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The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Eleven: The First Task, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Eleven: The First Task, pt. 2
Ack, bad week. Sorry. Once I get through the task itself and back to the mystery, I should do better. Provided my computer doesn't crash again and I don't end up stuck in bed with this horrible cold I've picked up.

First task ahoy! Celia has been taken away to do pre-task interviews, and James has gone down to the staging area with the rest of the Hogwarts and Durmstrang students. They survey the area, which is set up with mirrors for broadcasting (with a thank you to the Department of Mysteries in London for the idea). Programs appear, and when James opens it, he finds the story of Hercules and the Stymphalian Birds.

Could a reader of the French text tell me how they translated "Triwizard Tournament"? I know that it would be in English, as I have it here, but it would be simplest to use the term already established in the translations.

Table of Contents So Far

"Are they joking?" Abby Carrow asked. "I thought the Stymphalian birds died out ages ago!"

Emilija Tomicic laughed. "Oh, no!" she said. "Oh, Veronika has this one! They have lived in Croatia. Ve have studied them with the old folk, in case ve see them!"

"That's not fair!" Scops protested.

"Everything lives somevere," Katharina Strobel said, obviously pleased.

"You said you studied them," Electa Campbell said, then sniffed at the Durmstrang nods. "There's a big difference between study and practice."

"At least ve haff one of them!" Anton said.

James let the argument go on around him, and re-read the story. The birds, which had beaks and talons of brass, had been wreaking havoc around Lake Stymphalia, and Eurystheus had sent Hercules to get rid of them. Along with their beaks and talons, they also had metal feathers that they could fire like arrows (James wondered what kind of wand those feathers could make a core for), and their dung was venomous.

James was suddenly glad that Lupin had reminded Celia about her umbrella charm for things that flew. It would be quite embarrassing to be disqualified because a bird decided to use her for target practice.

He shook his head and turned to the next page, with the biographies of the champions and judges. Celia's mentioned her lycanthropy, but only in passing. It was mainly concerned with her role as Keeper on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. James thought she'd be pleased with this. Veronika's revealed that she was "more nervous around boys than monsters"--James rather doubted this--and Titouan's mentioned that he loved the music of a French wizard named Julien Roussel (a great favorite of the witches at Beauxbatons).

The next page talked about the mirrors.

Because of security concerns raised in the last Triwizard Tournament, the text read, the Department of Magical Law Enforcement in London has worked with the Department of Mysteries to develop a way for the judges to maintain a view of the champions in all parts of their tasks. The invention has the happy benefit of allowing these events to be viewed all over the world, at specially designed venues, including The Leaky Cauldron in London, common areas at both visiting schools, the famed Parisian café Les Deux Dragons, the Elfegarten in Berlin, and several other prominent wizarding sites.

Developer T.R. Lupin
--it took James a moment to remember that they were talking about Teddy, who'd apparently found some time to invent something other than babies this year after all--explains that the agents of the Department of Mysteries, traditionally called "Unspeakables," were able to use the principles of a kind of two way communicating mirror developed by Sirius Black to expand into a general broadcast to several sites. "It's quite simple," Lupin explains. "You start with the idea that the mirror identity is able to... er, perhaps it's not that simple. But it works perfectly well, and until we learn to adapt Muggle image transmission to work on magical power"--he seems wistful at this idea--"this is the best we can do."

By the time James had finished reading, most of the seats around the arena were filled. The judges sat on a high dais, and the mirrored panels were currently focused on them. Madame Maxime appeared to be biting her lip. To James's annoyance, Denis Laurent was still sitting on the panel, looking smug. Robards had adopted the pose he used in class while he was waiting for an answer and doing his best not to give a student a hint. Shevchenko was perusing the program (it looked to James like he was at the biography pages), and Dani, dressed in uncomfortable-looking fashionable robes, was watching the field below as eagerly as a spectator. She'd overdone her make-up a bit, in James's opinion.

At Dad's tournament, Ludo Bagman had served as both a judge and a commentator, but here, there was a young Frenchman James had seen pictures of pasted to the notebooks of many Beauxbatons girls. He stood atop a high tower, surrounded by the reporters from various media around the world. James could see Mum's head. She seemed to be leaning into a microphone, and he guessed her voice would be broadcast over Wizarding Wireless at home.

A swell of music came up, bringing the attention of the crowd to him, and words appeared in the air, circling past the mirrors: "Triwizard Tournament -- First Task -- November 2019." There was a flash of sunlight as one of the mirrors swiveled to face the young man, and his face appeared on the great viewing panels. The crowd erupted in cheers.

"Welcome, welcome!" he called out in French (James supposed the media representatives in the box beside him were translating for home audiences). "I am Audric Berenger!" (James sneaked a glance at the program, now that he had a name for the man, and discovered that he was a well-known star of a daytime drama on France's Wizarding Wireless.) "It has been over one hundred and fifty years since the Triwizard Tournament was hosted here at Beauxbatons, and welcome back to our friends around the world! Today, our champions will face their first task--a task that has been faced by great wizards of ages past, including none other than Hercules himself! Ladies and gentlemen, from the shores of the Black Sea where they now live, we have brought a flock of Stymphalian Birds!"

No one present expressed surprise, as they'd all read the program by now, but Berenger paused for a long enough time that James supposed the reporters were reading the information to their listeners.

After a moment, Berenger went on. "Our champions are in seclusion, and none will know, before they enter the arena, what manner of creature they will face. Their task is to pass through the arena, find the nest which will be concealed for each champion, and retrieve a silver skull." (On the field, a Beauxbatons groundskeeper held up a skull he was concealing in a patch of high grass.) "Needless to say, they must do this without being killed or injured! Points will be awarded for creativity and skill. Champions will lose points for injury to themselves or to the Symphalian birds, which are, of course, an endangered species.

"Our guests here at the tournament are protected by strong spells, which will prevent the birds from leaving the field of play.

"And now, the first task.... BEGINS!"

Something shimmered at the far edge of the arena, and James was suddeny able to see a large tent that had been set up on the far side. The flap lifted, and Titouan Boulanger entered to great applause. The concealing spell came back, and he seemed, once again, to be alone.

Titouan squared his shoulders and looked up at the mirror. On the viewing panel, his face took on a look of great gravitas.

There was a strange moment when nothing happened, then another concealing spell shimmered out of view, and huge golden cages appeared. The doors opened, and the birds flew out.

On the viewing panel, Titouan's face went from studied bravery to revolted terror as the first birds flew in on him. He jabbed his wand into the air, sending out a shockwave that pushed them away. They scattered, feathers flying in all directions, but not for long. He made it a few feet into the arena before they were on him again.

James leaned forward in his seat, watching, wondering what he would do. The shockwave was a good spell--he guessed it was "Butio" or something of that sort--but it didn't seem to keep them away long. Hercules had used a loud noise and scattered them that way, then shot quite a few with his bow and arrow to scare the rest away, but that would be against the rules here. The loud noise by itself probably wouldn't be any more effective than the shockwave.

In the arena, Titouan jumped wildly and screamed as one of the birds' feathers flew at him and scraped across his face, leaving a thin, bloody cut. He blasted out another shockwave and ran at top speed to the middle of the arena. The birds flocked on him again.

I'd try a distraction spell, James thought. Something to make them look somewhere else. Or instead of the arrows, I'd use Stunning Spells. But maybe they'd bounce off and--

A cheer went up. Titouan had reached the silver skull, and dived into the nest. He was cradling it like some odd doll. Birds whirled around him in a maelstrom, pecking madly.

He raised one bloodied arm, and the shockwave spell came out again, scattering them.

He staggered out of the nest as the bird-keepers came out on the field, dressed in heavy armor, to gather up their charges.

Titouan was led to a medical tent that appeared just outside the arena, and the school healers started to hover over him.

The mirrors focused on the judges, who were conferring in quiet tones.

The scores came up: 8, 7, 7, 8, 6, for a total of 36.

The arena was cleared again. A second skull was set up.

The concealing spell on the champions' tent wavered again and this time, when the flap opened, Celia Dean entered the field of play.
31 comments or Leave a comment
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: November 12th, 2011 06:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay! The Story is Back!

But wasn't Gilderoy Lockhart a permanent resident of St. Mungo's as of the end of Book 2? And I seem to recall an interview in which Herself says he never recovers...
reannanshaw From: reannanshaw Date: November 12th, 2011 06:19 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay! The Story is Back!

Besides that, he showed up in book 5. Even if he did recover eventually, he wouldn't have gone from crazy to sane and back to crazy within a few years. ;) Although I do think that having insane!Lockhart do the commentary would have brought a whole extra level of awesomeness to the tournament.
reannanshaw From: reannanshaw Date: November 12th, 2011 06:16 am (UTC) (Link)
I love the bit about Teddy inventing something other than babies. *giggle* Cool how Sirius's mirror is involved, too.

At Dad's tournament, Gilderoy Lockhart had served as both a judge and a commentator -- Um, I don't think you mean Lockhart, seeing as he was crazy in St. Mungo's at the time. Although that would have been hilarious.

Sheesh, wizards really are insane. They let kids participates in sports that could literally get them killed very easily. Maybe that's one reason the worldwide wizarding population is so relatively small.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 14th, 2011 09:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was trying to think of a way to broadcast video images that they'd have the technology to pick up. The mirror was the only thing that came to mind!

Yeah... the insurance companies would be clutching their pearls and most of the things these schools allow. (Including Quidditch, or even Gobstones... what's in that noxious substance they let out when they explode? And even if that were fixed, couldn't an exploding marble hit someone in the eye?)

Meanwhile, the generation of kids who weren't allowed to ride a bike with training wheels around the block without full tackle football defensive gear on gobbled these books up like candy.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 12th, 2011 06:27 am (UTC) (Link)

Small mistake


I think you mean Ludo Bagman rather than Gilderoy Lockhart.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 14th, 2011 09:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Small mistake

Yup, like I said above--hopped up on cold medicine is not the best way to remember details.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 12th, 2011 08:30 am (UTC) (Link)


Glad to see you're back! Brilliant chaplet! As was mentioned before gilderoy lockhart wouldn't have been able to judge harry's tournament because he was in st mungos but ludo bagman was the commentator but I'm not sure if he was a judge too? I know crouch sr was the judge but I thought percy replaced him after crouch died.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 14th, 2011 09:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: yay!

Yeah, meant Ludo. Oops.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: November 12th, 2011 11:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Others have asked the Gilderoy Lockhart question, so I'll just say rousing start to the first task. Those birds are definitely alarming. Looking forward to Celia's turn.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 14th, 2011 09:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Me, too... wonder what she'll do. (I say on the day I mean to write it...)
starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: November 12th, 2011 01:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

first things first- Welcome back and on the name error

it's nice to hear from you again Fern. So sorry to hear you had a bad week.
(for the cold I Highly Recommend a mixture of Honey and chopped onions- grab a jar of honey- put the chopped onions in small pieces inside- let it sit for 24 hours and then drink in spoonfuls the honey inpregnated with onion juice.

it sounds a bit yucky, but it's very effective in curing cold faster.

As for the Name Slipup- It Wasn't Gilderoy Lockhart- it was Ludovic "Ludo" Bagman who was the "celebrity" commentator/judge.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 14th, 2011 09:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: first things first- Welcome back and on the name error

Yeah, I remember.
starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: November 12th, 2011 01:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

now the chapter....

love the new method for the audience to see what's going on (clever too)

the task looks pretty exciting- althought Yikes- the birds may not be as dangerous as the sirens, but they do seem capable of cause A lot of damage. poor Titouan.

also ouch on his score. it's not too bad but he did lost a lot pf points (i do think it's highly unfair that they take points if the champions are injured. that should be neutral- i mean what are they going to do if the champion gets a life-threatening wound? give him/her -1?

poor dani with her uncomfortable "fashionable" robes- i mean are they really necessary to be uncomfortable?

also James Jr, sweetheart, let the issue with Veronika go. it's not that big a deal. besides, unless she reciprocated And moved to england- it wouldn't have worked.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 14th, 2011 09:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: now the chapter....

I spend too much time reading a pair of fashion bloggers who always "rate" whatever the celeb du jour is wearing. It always looks so uncomfortable!
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: November 12th, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm thinking positive thoughts toward Celia. These birds sound challenging. Love the reference to Teddy and his baby-filled life!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 14th, 2011 09:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it's the poison poop that gets me about them. Like it's not bad enough that they can peck and scratch you to death with brass claws and beaks, no... they have to kill you in a really embarrassing way, too.
cleindori From: cleindori Date: November 13th, 2011 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Eek, so exciting! Can't wait for Celia's turn!

Also, loved the Teddy inventing something other than babies line. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 14th, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
James is a little embarrassed, I think, by Teddy's fecundity...
nevrafire From: nevrafire Date: November 14th, 2011 08:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

also I love the greek myths!

I love how you're using Greek Mythos for the Tournament!

it's really awesome
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 14th, 2011 09:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: also I love the greek myths!

I do love my Greek myths. I stole my mom's copy of Edith Hamilton in second grade or so, and kept it until she gave me a new copy when I went to college. ;p
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 14th, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
nothing like a little schools competition to raise the stakes, eh?

good think tito didn't got turned into chopped meat.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 14th, 2011 09:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Always makes it more interesting!
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 14th, 2011 08:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Croatia? why did the birds moved to Croatia?

stephan-the onlooker
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 14th, 2011 09:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
They just flew north from Arcadia.
vesta_aurelia From: vesta_aurelia Date: November 18th, 2011 02:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I check back every morning to see if there's a new post. (Fern, I just can't quit you :) )

Anyway, I was tiding myself over re-reading and I noticed a little typo. Since you're a bit of a perfectionist, I thought you might like to know.

After a moment, Berenger went on. .....Champions will lose points for injury to themselves or to the Symphalian birds, which are, of course, an endangered species.

Stymphalian is missing it's "T" in this paragraph, where Berenger is explaining for the folks at home.

A very squeeful reader :)
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 20th, 2011 12:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
And I'm finally back after another two-week business trip--I missed my Fern fics! ;p
To answer your question, "Triwizard Tournament" was translated as "Tournoi des Trois Sorciers"--nothing very original here.
Here's hoping this naughty cold has stopped bothering you. Your computer should really understand who's boss in your house, and that it [your computer] is not allowed to eat your work. Non mais!(*)

(*) Non mais!: A phrase that expresses outrage and petulance. Roughly equivalent to "for God's sake!", "so there!", "come on!". Variants: Non mais oh! Non mais des fois! Non mais quand même!...
31 comments or Leave a comment