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The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Eleven: The First Task, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Eleven: The First Task, pt. 3
Okay, I'm going back to V-S. It needs to get finished, and I realized I still have way too much backed up on the challenges to wait until I'm done.

We're on the first task, and the surprise monster is a flock of Stymphalian birds. Titouan Boulanger, the Beauxbatons champion, managed to get the silver skull from the hidden nest, with a total score of 36 out of 50. Champions lose points for injuring the birds or being injured themselves. The birds have impenetrable metal feathers, metal beaks and claws, and poison dung.

Celia has just entered the field of play, after spending the morning with Lupin's portrait, going over generalized strategy. James is watching from the stands. He has noticed that Ginny is there covering the event.

I am totally off my outline, in case people hadn't guessed by my sudden freeze-up. ;p There was originally supposed to be a just James-and-Ruthless scene here (it was in a shortfic earlier), but that didn't make any logical sense with what's here now.

Table of Contents So Far

The mirrors turned to Celia, and her face was projected up onto the giant viewing panels. The wind was blowing, and James could see that a bit of her sandy-colored hair was lodged in the corner of her mouth. She pulled it away, staring out at the field of play, where the birds were still concealed.

The spell broke.

The cages opened.

Celia frowned slightly (on the panels, the little line between her eyes seemed roughly the width of the grand canyon), then took a deep breath and raised her wand as the view became suddenly wider. The birds flew in.

Celia had apparently cast an Umbrella Charm on herself, as bits of white stuff that James preferred not to to think about were floating around her like satellites. She twirled her wand and let off a very loud Ululatus Charm. The birds flew back. She cast a net upward and ran madly as it brought some of them down.

The others flew at her.

Impedimenta, James thought, as hard as he could. Impedimenta, Impedimenta, Impedimenta...

"Impedimenta!" Celia managed.

The closest birds stared flying in slow motion.

Celia made a wild dive for the nest and came up with the skull, but the Impeded birds had already been shoved aside by their more active flockmates. Golden feathers flew through the air like flocked arrows, and Celia was only able to Conjure a quick shield to catch them. She clawed her way out of the nest, did another Ululatus, and rolled toward the finish line.

She was safe.

The keepers came back.

The Healers came and took Celia off the field (the viewing panel showed several cuts on her face, and to James's complete annoyance, Audric the Announcer took the opportunity to explain what heavy precautions were being taken against her lycanthropy... which wasn't even spread by blood, though you'd never know it by his narrative. James took out a pair of binoculars and looked down toward where Mum was translating, and he could tell by the look on her face that she was giving a spirited commentary on the translation.

Celia's scores came up--9,7,8,8,7. Total of thirty-nine.

The Hogwarts contingent exploded with applause.

"We're in the lead!" Scops said, dropping down beside James. "Celia's got it."

"Veronika's still going," James reminded him, as the keepers re-set the field of play.

"Yeah, but we're already ahead of Beauxbatons by three points." He raised his wand, and shot out red and gold sparks for Celia. James thought it would've be nice if he'd kept up his Patronus practice, so he could send her a "Well done" message, but he'd been lax since the Goblet hadn't chosen him. He decided to rectify that so that he could send one when she finished the Second Task in February. He practiced as surreptitiously as he could (with no visible results at all, somewhat to his alarm) until the concealment spells went back up and Veronika Horvat came into play.

Celia's lead didn't last long. Veronika did the same sorts of spells Celia had done--there were only so many ways to defend oneself against a swarm of deadly birds--but she was a more graceful runner, and ended the task with only a few scrapes. She came out with forty points, most of the ten points lost because she'd nicked one of the birds' wings, and it needed the attention of a Healer.

Scops sighed. "It's only one point," he said. "Celia can earn it back in the next task."

The Beauxbatons students seemed muted in their cheers, and James couldn't blame them--it couldn't be great fun to have the lowest score in their own tournament.

Back at the Visitors' Garden later, Veronika and Celia didn't seem to be particularly bothered by the slight difference in scores, though they'd had a bet, and Celia was forced to sing something in Croatian that Veronika had apparently taught her. There was a party outside, between the ship and the train, that lasted far into the night. Mum showed up for part of it, after she'd filed her report, and told both girls that she'd been impressed. Nikita Janowicz was a Harpies fan and wanted to ask her any number of questions about her time there, and about various women on the team who he admired--supposedly as Quidditch players, though he kept forgetting which positions they played, leading James to assume he had the team posters on his walls and not much else.

When this was over, Mum beckoned to James to join her in the train ("wouldn't want to embarrass you in front of the Durmstrang girls") so she could give him a hug and a full hamper of food from Nana Weasley. She passed a few words with the portraits, who she seemed to miss having in the house, then hugged James again, and went on her way. This was something James appreciated from her: she had a keen sense of where mothering belonged, and where a bit of independence was needed.

After she left, he found himself talking to Emilija Tomičić for a long time. She seemed quite nice, and rather interested in him. The thought of Al having snogged someone occurred to him, and he asked if he could kiss her, to which she was quite amenable, although Celia interrupted them before they got much further than nose-bumping.

"Really, James," she said, dropping down on the log beside him where Emilija had been sitting (she'd made sudden excuses and run back off to the ship). "Will you settle on someone? You've been making eyes at Dani, Veronika, and now Emilija. Not to mention various werewolves who will slap you if you do it again."

"Well, if you don't want me looking at you, then why do you care how many other girls I look at?"

"Is this just because Al has a girlfriend?"

James didn't dignify this with an answer.

Celia dropped the subject. "Do you want to have a look at the skull I got?"

"Yeah! Does it have a clue, like Dad's did?"

"I don't know. I haven't done anything with it yet."

"Who else do you want looking at it?"

"Just you for now. And the portraits. Let's see if we can get it solved by"--she checked her watch--"well, midnight's over, but maybe by one-thirty."

They went to the campfire, where the two skulls were displayed on a table, and Celia took hers. Veronika bowed sarcastically and said, "I'll give you the head start. I can afford it."

Celia's returning gesture wasn't exactly a bow, but it did seem to be in good spirits. She took James's arm and led him back to the train.

They set up in the common area on the second floor, with both Talitha and the Marauders could comment.

"Even getting the clue will be a puzzle," Talitha said. "In my tournament, they hid a riddle in the center of a crystal, and we had to get it out without breaking the crystal."

"Was it infused, like in a wand?" James asked.

"Probably. One of the judges was a wandmaker."

James wanted to ask how she'd got the clue out--it might have a clue as to what the infusing spells were--but Talitha would be sidetracked for a long time, and it wasn't very likely that Celia's clue was infused in the silver skull.

"Do you think there'll be a hostage?" Sirius asked.

"There usually is," Celia said. "Different people in different tournaments. In 1753, it was teachers. I reckon Robards would fail me on a NEWT on principle if I didn't rescue him."

"Maybe we'll get to find out who you love the most," Granddad said, grinning.

Celia fetched a deep sigh. "Oh, but Mr. Laurent is on the judging panel, so they couldn't very well take him, no matter how much it would break my heart to have him painfully killed by a monster or three."

Lupin cleared his throat. "Before we get to your revenge fantasies, maybe we should have a look at the clue."

"Oh, right." Celia held up the skull and looked it over. "It's hollow. Nothing is shaking inside it. She pointed her wand at the eyes. "It's very glittery inside, like a geode. I can't see anything."

"Dad had to take the egg into the water to get his riddle," James said. "It was just screechy noise before that."

Celia gave a yank at the skull's jaw, but it didn't move. "Nothing to that," she said. "There's no sound to hear, unless it's really hidden. Do you suppose Robards will cheat like that Death Eater did, and find a way to get me the clue?"

"Probably not," James said.

Talitha snorted. "In that case, he doesn't know how this game is played."

"And here I thought you didn't cheat!" Sirius protested.

"I didn't. But my headmaster did. All of the headmasters do. It makes them feel useful."

"Try opening the mouth magically," Lupin suggested.

Celia tried Alohomora, to no effect.

"Is there writing hidden in the decorations?" Granddad asked.

There wasn't. Nor were there patterns of colored crystals that Celia could see inside the skull (Sirius's suggestion), recognizable maps or images (James's), a special shadow cast on the wall when wandlight was cast up from the jaw. Other students drifted up and made suggestions that didn't work. One-thirty came and went, and Robards finally came in and sent everyone to bed. James went to bed thinking about the problem, but, much to his disappointment, did not dream an answer.
12 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 15th, 2012 03:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
yeah, quite a number of requests yout got- was it like 100?

glad to see ville savage again.

still, a pity the requests were dropped, they were quite cool to read.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 15th, 2012 04:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I haven't dropped them, I'm just going to alternate, because I didn't want to leave the real story alone for another two months.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 15th, 2012 05:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
that's clear it up then. my apologies.

seems like a good plan.

on Ville Savage, Celia is particularly badass here, and that was fun to read.

and do i detect a romantic jealous!Celia? ;)

malinbe From: malinbe Date: February 15th, 2012 05:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great! I'm happy to see an update. It was an interesting first task. I look forward to the clue-finding!
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: February 15th, 2012 07:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah! An update! I only had time to skim -- I'll read in detail later, but this seems to be full of action and plot movement.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 15th, 2012 07:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Glad to be back!

Did the ficlet about Fleur at Beauxbatons restart the gears for Ville Sauvage?

Sara Libby
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 15th, 2012 11:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Glad to be back!

Kind of--it reminded me that I hadn't meant to take a three month break in the middle of a chapter!
reannanshaw From: reannanshaw Date: February 16th, 2012 01:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Poor James and his girl problems.

You know, I just recently read a book where the main characters had to fight these kind of birds. And yet I don't think I'd ever heard of them before your story. I seem to have some gaps in my mythological knowledge.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 16th, 2012 03:52 am (UTC) (Link)
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 16th, 2012 03:53 am (UTC) (Link)
PS: this is Leith, I did a journal name-change. :)
starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: February 16th, 2012 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)

wow Can't believe I missed seeing this new chapter!

Wow it's nice getting back to the story!!

and Celia is pretty good at the defense spells! me reckon that she be good to have in a fight.

and Of course the comentator had to be a complete prejudistic ass.

so now I'm fully on board on Team Celia for triwizard champion. Go Celia!

and oh James Jr., and here I thought his dad have had a rought time with fancying girls.

and Wow the clue Looks real tough as clams in seeming unsolvable. Really looking forward to see how it gets cracked.

willowbough From: willowbough Date: February 16th, 2012 05:12 am (UTC) (Link)
The ficlets were all great, and I applaud your productivity, but it's great to see this back. Glad that Celia does so well in the First Task.

Portraits are love, especially when giving advice.
12 comments or Leave a comment