The Caged Warlock | Flash Fiction

The soft clinking sounds of the windchimes should have been soothing, but they weren’t. They were chilling.

“He won’t take his eyes off me,” I muttered, looking everywhere but at our prisoner.

“He’s tied up,” my companion hissed, though he, too, looked uncomfortable.

“I just wish the others would hurry up with that truck,” I sighed, my eyes scanning the area. “We need to get him away from here before-”

I had been desperately trying not to look at our captive, but as my eyes darted through the trees, I caught a glimpse of his cage.

It was empty.


Word Count: 99.

This little piece of fiction was inspired by the Friday Fictioneers prompt challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-FieldsThanks for reading! You can click on the InLinkz button below to view more pieces of flash fiction based on this prompt.

Picture Credit: Liz Young.

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Harry Potter Revisited: “The Keeper of the Keys”

I am taking part in a Harry Potter reading project, where, each Saturday, I talk a little about each chapter of the Harry Potter books. You can view a full list of these chapter rereads here.

1.4

So, here we are with the fourth chapter of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, “The Keeper of the Keys”.

Chapter Summary

Chapter three left us on a little bit of a cliffhanger; Harry and the Dursleys were sleeping in their rundown hut on the rocks when there was a knocking at the door. Well, this chapter begins with the door being blasted off of its hinges as Rubeus Hagrid, keeper of keys and grounds and Hogwarts, bursts through the door.

1 - audioThis marks the moment when magic enters Harry’s life as Hagrid makes his presence known. He stands up to Vernon Dursley and lights a fire with a mere flick of his pink umbrella. Astounded, Harry asks who Hagrid really is, and Hagrid quickly uncovers that the Dursleys never told Harry anything about how his parents died, or even anything about the magical world.

Hagrid does more than tell Harry that he is a wizard, though. For the first time in Harry’s life, someone is kind to him. He gives him the letter that he has wanted to read for so long, and has even baked him a birthday cake. Hagrid is not the formidable half-giant that he may seem; he breaks stereotypes with his wonderfully kind heart.

Harry learns a lot about the magical world in this chapter, too. He is told that his parents were murdered by a famous dark wizard (Voldemort) and that, somehow, he had survived the attack. Harry is reluctant to accept these truths but, eventually, he agrees that he has always been able to do strange things (such as releasing a boa constrictor on his cousin in chapter two).

The Funniest Moment

If there’s one thing that you should always remember, it is to never insult Albus Dumbledore in front of Rubeus Hagrid. Nobody told Vernon Dursley this, though, and so he calls Dumbledore a “crackpot”. Hagrid responds by making a curly pig’s tail sprout from Dudley’s backside.

The Saddest Moment

The most emotional part of this chapter has to be Voldemort’s introduction. Hagrid recalls the story of James and Lily’s murder, and it really is quite chilling, especially with a foreknowledge of the journey that Harry makes throughout this series.

Some Further Thoughts

  • Hagrid says that Harry’s name has been down for Hogwarts since the day that he was born… but what if Harry had been a squib? A wizard and a witch can produce a muggle child, and this child is called a squib. For some reason, the Hogwarts teachers decided to overlook this possibility when it came to Harry.
  • Nobody likes saying Voldemort’s name, yet parents must tell their children, or else no one would ever know it. When Hagrid forces himself to speak the name to Harry, he really is solidifying his role as one of Harry’s many paternal figures as he takes on the responsibility of a parent.

A Quote

Something very painful was going on in Harry’s mind. As Hagrid’s story came to a close, he saw again the blinding flash of green light, more clearly than he had ever remembered it before – and he remembered something else, for the first time in his life – a high, cold, cruel laugh.

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The Cure

I had been sitting alone on a metal, slightly rusted park bench when he had come to me.

Hadrian's Wall4.jpgI can remember hoping that he would pass by me without stopping, for his appearance had been very eccentric. He had been tall, with sleek blonde hair that fell to his shoulders. On his head, he wore an old-style top hat and had a curious moustache that made me think of days gone by.

“Bad news?” he had asked, gesturing as he did so at the plain, grey mass behind us. I smiled cordially, not being in the habit of talking to strangers and, once again, I turned my back to the hospital.

I think that I had then expected the man to move on. I had purposefully not engaged with him so that I could be left to the solitude of my dark, brooding thoughts. Yet he did not move on. Instead, he crossed the patch of grass that had stood between us and came to lounge beside me on the bench.

“I had bad news once, too,” he continued, seemingly indifferent to how uncomfortable I was. “I went in there,” he said, gesturing at the hospital again, “and they told me that I had stage three cancer.” He laughed. “Well, obviously, you can imagine my surprise. It was not what I was expecting to hear, having only visited my doctor about a head cold.”

“I’m stage four,” I said, rather coolly. “It’s inoperable. There’s nothing to be done.” At this, the man put a sympathetic hand on my shoulder. It was nothing more than a friendly gesture, but it took me completely by surprise and I leapt to my feet.

“Hey, now,” cried the man, getting to his feet, too. “I didn’t mean to frighten you. I want to help you.” I looked at him then, taking in his kindly expression for the first time and, as my eyes met his, I felt something soften in me. It would have been impossible to say why, but something about this man had made me trust him. I still do not know what unearthly power flows through Dr. Jacques Mathok, but from the moment that I looked into his eyes, I became helpless. He had taken me by the hand and rubbed it gently, telling me again that he wanted to help me. Then he had led me into a dark car and belted me into the passenger seat, brushing my hair from my face as he did so.

“I want to help you,” he repeated as he drove me away from the park and out of the city entirely. We drove for hours, but I had not resisted. I had not asked him to stop. I had only smiled airily as my kidnapper had driven me away from my home.

Then, at long last, he had stopped driving. I do not remember too much about where he had taken me. I only remember that we were in a country lane with rocky cliffs behind it. The rest of my thoughts seemed clouded by my unflinching trust of this stranger.

Mathok had climbed out of the car and had come around to my side of the car, unbelted me, and then taken me by the hand as he led me up the rocky path behind us. Before long, we had come to a cave. It was small, and most of it was taken up by a large pool. An extended stalactite reached over it and, from its point, a steady drop of water was filling the pool.

My captor had then asked me to kneel by the edge of the pool and I, as helpless as ever, had obeyed him. I watched meekly as he pulled a curious, glass flask from his pocket and offered it to the pool. As the stalactite’s water began to fill it, he let out a low hum that echoed soothingly around the chamber. I smiled as he offered me the flask.

“This will cure you,” he had said and I, nodding, had drunk.

Mathok had not lied, of course; the pool’s water had cured my cancer. Yet it had also cured me of something else: my humanity.

From the moment that the water touched my lips, I felt my personality drain from me. I was no longer myself, but a spectre of the fountain. I no longer wished to contact my friends or family. In fact, I could hardly remember them. The word ‘career’ meant almost nothing to me and all of the problems that I had known that morning had simply melted away.

My only concern now is the same as Mathok’s. A slave to the pool, it is my wish to bring others to taste its waters. I go to the nearby hospitals and I wait. Then, when I have chosen a suitable candidate, I approach them. I let them look deep into my eyes, through which the pool’s waters now flow. They become entranced by me and I, using this connection, lead them to the pool. There they drink, and there they lose themselves.

It is a repetitive life, yet the pool makes it all seem worthwhile. I may be its servant, but what does that matter? It cured me. It will cure us all.


Word Count: 882.

This piece of creative writing was inspired by the prompt from Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. Unfortunately, I was unable to stick to the word count for this prompt, as the idea for this story really took a hold of me. I have therefore decided not to join the link-up for this prompt (this for flash fiction, after all), but you can read the stories that have managed to stick to the word limit by clicking on the blue froggy below! Thanks for reading!

Picture Credit (Photo #2): Enisa.

Pryon – Contents Page

My story of “Pryon” has now officially come to an end! As a way of closing off the story and making navigation easier in the future, I’ve put together a contents page; just click on the hyperlinks below to access different parts of the story:

Part One – Storm Clouds

Part Two – Questions

fire-768x286Part Three – A Travellerfire-768x286

Part Four – Unnerved

Part Five – Prisoner

Part Six – Déjà Vu

Part Seven – Aftermath

Part Eight – A Name

Part Nine – The Boy

Part Ten – Leashed

Part Eleven – Dorian

Part Twelve – The Kingdom

Part Thirteen – A Meeting with the King

Part Fourteen – The Prince’s Story

Part Fifteen – The Passage

Part Sixteen – Changes


Thanks for reading, and please do let me know what you think!

Pryon

Card Tricks

The applause pounded in his head as he walked: it was as though the leaf-strewn path was lined with spectators, not trees. They cheered and clapped as he marched through them, so he waved his arms in front of him, trying to push them out of his way. This only seemed to make the crowds cheer louder, though, and he began to smile, nodding and waving his hand as he came to the end of the path.

He turned, gave a small bow to the empty forest, and then made his way to his den. He settled down on the damp floor, careful to close the door behind him. He didn’t want any unwanted spectators or cameras sneaking their way into his private den; it was his personal space, and he couldn’t permit some stranger to gain even the slightest glimpse of its insides.

farhan-siddicq-200523-unsplashHe lay back against the floor, his smooth head pillowed by his open hood and his palms flat against the floor. A few deep breaths passed through his lips and his eyes fell slowly shut.

Then, quite suddenly, he was on his feet again and the cards were in his hands. First, he shuffled them, spiralling them into the air and catching them in one hand. Then, he spun them around and flicked through them, searching for his prize.

It was the very last card in the stack.

He pulled it out and cast the rest of the deck aside, leaning back against the den wall and breathing rather heavily. For a moment then, he had been convinced that someone had crept in and stolen it from him. What would he have done? He would have lost his mind. Without this card, he had nothing – nothing at all.

He held it up to the sky for a few minutes, tears of relief forming in his eyes. Then he cast it on the floor, his eyes rolling and his chest heaving manically.

There was a noise of rushing thunder and then, from somewhere outside, he heard the crowds again. Taking a few deep, steadying breaths, he pushed open the den door and stepped outside to roars of celebration.

They were all there – just as they always were: cheering, clapping and, unlike everyone back at home, they were pleased to see him. He tucked his stash of white powder a little deeper into his trouser pockets and then, arms spread wide, he began to laugh.


Word Count: 407

Thank you so much for reading! This little story was written for the purposes of the prompt challenge over at Creative Writing Ink. The other entries to this week’s challenge are listed on the website, so please do check them out if you have the time!

Pryon #13 – A Meeting with the King

The story of “Pryon” is one that I am writing across a series of separate blog posts. You can read the start of the story here. I hope you’re enjoying the story!


Dorian was beginning to grow impatient with Linyeve’s hesitations; he pulled her away from the busy shoppers with an angry snarl, nodding at the building now in front of them.

jacob-wall-575634-unsplash.jpgThe Palace of Pryon was a magnificent structure: marble pillars stood tall outside another set of double doors and large rubies and diamonds shone down from various crevices in its walls. Linyeve would have wanted to have taken more time to admire it, but Dorian had lost his patience. He forced her inside the doors and led her forwards into the throne room.

Their footsteps echoed loudly as they marched across the stone slabs set into the ground; now that the doors were shut, they were entirely cut off from the noise outside, and Linyeve found the silence somewhat eerie.

The King was set on his throne before them, his head tilted slightly back and his feet resting on a small stool that lay before him. He didn’t look up as they approached, although the sound of the footsteps sounded quite deafening to Linyeve. She took in his greying hair and beard, her eyes passing over his lined temple and the thick, fur collar that she knew must hide that famous battle scar.

Then her eyes slid to the left of him, and she found herself staring at the empty chair of the Queen. How strange it was that no one had thought to remove it after so many years. Linyeve supposed the King had wished for it to stay, but she couldn’t help noticing how sad its emptiness seemed. She looked at her feet, remembering the story that she had been told by her grandmother when she was only a small child.

“The King was a strong ruler,” her grandmother had told her. “There was not a person alive who did not admire him. He would keep us all safe whilst his wife, our Queen, would keep him sane. With any Kingdom there are going to be usurpers, though, and, one day, the Kingdom was attacked. They say it was the King’s half-brother, Ruian. He crept into the Palace by night and went straight to the King’s quarters.

“He would have killed the King right there as he slept, but the Queen awoke with a start and jumped in front of Ruian, protecting the King. He stabbed her right in the chest, the poor girl. Ruian’s blade went straight through her and then out the other side – he would have killed the King, too, but he only managed a cut. Our King then destroyed the usurper and order was restored to the Kingdom.”

Linyeve suddenly realised that Dorian was speaking.

“She’s the one from that village, father. You remember.”

With a heavy sigh, the King lifted his mighty head to stare hard into his son’s eyes.

“Why have you brought her to me?” he said, in much the same lazy tone as Dorian always seemed to use. Dorian hesitated, glancing at Linyeve.

“I captured her for you, father.”

“But why bring her to me?” the King repeated. “She’s from the village, Dorian. Now, get her out of my sight. If you don’t have the heart to kill her, send her to the dungeons and one of my guards can do the honour.”

FencesLinyeve opened her mouth to speak, but found it glued shut by Dorian’s strange power. She wanted to defend herself: to speak out against the King; if she was to die anyway, she wanted to fight back, but for some inexplicable reason, Dorian was still determined to control her. How she hated him.

“As you wish, father,” Dorian said quietly, and turned obediently from the King. Linyeve cast him a surprised look as she followed him towards a side door leading off from the chamber and saw, to her shock, that the strangest expression had crept over Dorian’s features.

It then occurred to her that perhaps he had not left the King of his own free will; it seemed that, just as Dorian was controlling Linyeve, King Pryon was controlling his son.


Thank you so much for reading! You can read the next part of the story here.

Picture Credit: Photo #1 by Jacob Wall (Unsplash).

Pryon #12 – The Kingdom

For the past few weeks, I have been writing a short story across a series of separate blog posts. Below, you can read the most recent instalment, but if you’re new to the series, you can check out the start of the story here. Enjoy!


It was strange how fast Dorian seemed able to travel from place to place. Linyeve fleetingly remembered how, back in Little Bringleton, he had somehow managed to disappear from right in front of her, and she wondered whether his powers were even greater than she had first imagined.

They had been walking for only half an hour, Linyeve obediently following at Dorian’s heels and the two hooded soldiers following a little way behind, when Linyeve saw, for the first time in her life, the Kingdom.

1171601_1486112858310039_1857327730_n.jpgWhen she’d been a little girl, she’d heard stories of the Kingdom, but none of them even slightly compared to actually seeing it. The walls alone were the most beautiful things she had ever seen; her shock seemed to momentarily overcome Dorian’s hold over her, for she came to an abrupt halt.

Great stone slabs rose up over the hill and out of sight, forming a perfect dome above the clouds. Within these walls, elaborate patterns had been carved by hand, swirls and zigzags tracing their way up into the sky. At the very bottom, Linyeve saw that people had scrawled their names into the stone, but rather than taking anything away from their beauty, they seemed to make them all the more imposing. A thousand people had marched, traipsed and been dragged over the threshold, and now Linyeve was going to join them.

Dorian was smirking at her over his shoulder, eyebrows raised. She scowled at him, looking away. It was almost impossible to understand what he was thinking; at first, it had seemed as though he was prepared to do almost anything to prevent her death, but now… well, now he was turning her over to his father, who had already murdered Linyeve’s entire village. Linyeve had very little faith in Dorian now; he was a two-faced traitor who was marching her to her execution.

“Come on,” he called, and Linyeve felt her legs moving forwards again.

They were approaching a set of ornate double doors, whose handles were curved inwards into a shape that Linyeve couldn’t quite make out, and which were bordered by intricate swirls and shapes that had been carved into the nearest stone slabs.

Two more guards were waiting for them at the entrance, their white hoods hanging over their faces and casting them into shadow. They nodded at Dorian and bent into steep bows as their party passed, and Linyeve heard curt greetings exchanged between these guards and the ones trailing behind her.

Just as they passed through the doors, Linyeve happened to look up at their handles, and a cool breeze ran seemed to run down her spine. They had been shaped to look like – not indistinct spirals, as she had first imagined – instead, they were dragons.

House.jpgShe felt a sharp pull on her heels and felt Dorian’s power lead her into the busy streets of the Kingdom. It was structured like the villages Linyeve was familiar with – to an extent. On the outer edges of the globe were the houses, only these weren’t the houses Linyeve was used to. They were elaborate, with spiralling wooden staircases and flowers trailing over balconies. As they passed through the streets, Linyeve thought she could see smoke rising from one of the rooftops, as someone turned a skewer over a hot fire.

Then, they reached the shops. Initially, there was the greengrocers and the fishmonger, and then there was a flower stand and a stall filled with what looked like multi-coloured sands. Linyeve ogled and stared openly as they passed shop after shop, pulled mercilessly on by Dorian’s strange powers.

What interested her most, though, were the people. Linyeve was used to seeing people ferrying from one place to another, burdened down by water or loaves of bread. Their aprons were tatty, and their hair was in rags. There was no finery; no pleasure to be taken. There was no time for such things when there was work to be done. Yet these city dwellers didn’t act like that, at all. They took their time chatting and walking around the various stalls, pointing out various objects and holding dresses up to themselves, twirling about and laughing.

It was as if there was no pressure; as if there were no responsibilities. Linyeve found herself, entirely subconsciously, staring at a girl that looked about her age. Her hair was darker than Linyeve’s, but it was bound into two thick braids that curled about her shoulders and down to the trim-line of an extravagant, silken gown. It was a rose colour, pale – impractical. Linyeve looked away, shaking her head slightly. If they knew, she thought bitterly. If they only knew what it was like out there. Then she realised her mistake: what it was like out there before the king burnt it all to the ground.


Thank you so much for reading this next part of “Pryon”! As you can tell, things are starting to get a little tense. I’m currently thinking that this story will be wrapped up in fifteen or sixteen parts (only three or four more to go)!

You can read the next part of the story here!