Saturday, August 26, 2006

Death Eater: Part - 1 : The Horcrux

Folks, this is my first real attempt at fiction. Fan fiction it may be, yet I am finally taking that step into writing fiction..... a very, very difficult task if I may say so. Friends of mine and a few teachers had long asked me to try a hand at fiction.... I couldn't go beyond some "inspired" stories or the trivial fiction one churns out in English Literature papers, yet they might have seen something in me.
As a tribute to these good folk, I have chosen the mysterious Lord Voldemort, born Tom Marvolo Riddle, from Harry Potter universe and I attempt to give him a backstory and more depth. It may not be the finest work of English fiction, but please see it as a attempt to hone my story writing skills (well, my url is a take on "The Storyteller", right? ;) ) . I may continue this particular saga if the feedback is good and I feel it is worth the electrons it is consuming.


Hoping not to have landed an absolute turkey,

Anand K

Chapter I

The Quest


Varanasi the ancient, the place of atonement for man and god, the cleanser of spirits..... the path to the other side. The hordes of tourists, hawkers, wannabes, faux "holy men", the Ganga turned into a veritable Vaitarini by the avarice of man, the dirt-ash-garbage and feces stained gullies of the city couldn't hide the true nature of Varanasi to the sensitive ones. Those few sentient beings, human and otherwise, who could hear the sounds and see the colors normal beings cannot have always felt the surging power at Varanasi... despite her appearance they recognized her for what she was. Varanasi is older than history, older than legend, older even than myth. The power existed even before the first altars were built by sons of Manu, it existed even before Lord Shiva himself came to atone for his sin of Brahmahatya epochs ago. Very few places in this world still function as doorways to the higher and nether planes, only these spots still have residues of the "magic" of those ancient ages; the ages where gods and demons walked the Earth. Varanasi was a veritable Motherlode for all those interested and steeped into the philosophic and the esoteric. Yet, Tom Marvolo Riddle had never been more afraid in his life.

Unlike most denizens of the wizarding world, Riddle was rather well acquainted with the ways and the arts of the mud-bloods. Once, during his childhood in the orphanage he had stumbled upon the works of a budding writer named J.R.R.Tolkien.... those books belonged to a literature student working as a part time apprentice at the orphanage. The fantasy world woven by the master storyteller Tolkien had offered respite from the dreary modern world; the grey, mechanical world little Riddle somehow realized he had *no* place in. In these works he read about Valinor, the undying lands of the Gods and appreciated that concept. Now, immortality and the prospect of godhead appealed to the blood of Salazar Slytherin.... as much as it was disturbed by the “unknown” that awaited mere mortals. Tolkien suggested that the immortal Elves (and even the gods) viewed death as a gift by the Supreme Godhead, Eru Illuvatar, to his favorite children. Even the first, uncorrupted mortals welcomed death at the end of their time as a last adventure……… but Riddle was afraid of the unknown. The prospects of being consigned into the “nothingness and oblivion” as he perceived it had disturbed him no end. It was no “childish” trifles like spiders or the dark or bullying older kids which terrified little Tom Riddle, it was death.

And in Varanasi, death was everywhere….. death was all around him. He could feel the souls and voices of thousands if not millions drift into the unknowns, he saw throngs of elderly pray earnestly for death in the doorways of the endless stone cut temples….. he even saw countless thirsty spirits hover over the tranquil Ganga waiting intently for their living loved ones and descendants to release them from limbo. Some of these spirits had immense bellies and hungry, lustful eyes but mouths the size of a pin’s head, some had the content look of a person at the end of the journey while the eyes of some spirits were unfathomable pools of regret. The malevolent ones on the other hand wandered around the forsaken “disgraced” cremation ghats and the forests on the banks of the rivers of Varanasi.
Death and transition to the beyond did not feel like the cold scythe of the Grim Reaper as commonly thought in the west, it was not even that painful and terrifying experience birth is.... Riddle could see it now. Yet, Riddle was afraid. Like all those scurrying, vain tyrants who fear what awaits them in the beyond, that great equaliser where one is no different from his vanquished victim from the mortal plane, Riddle was afraid. His august predecessors who harbored the same fears tried to cheat death and postpone their punishment or "ordinary" existence or obliteration in the beyond.... in vain. And here he was, in Varanasi the citadel to the other worlds, beholden to the splendor of death, salvation and Karma.

Still, he HAD to stay. Even evil has to face its tremendous fears and supreme loneliness. He had come to the city of death precisely to do the impossible task. He was there to cheat if not defeat death….. the mysterious power various cultures depicted variously as a dark lady in red, the grim reaper, the dark god on his terrible buffalo or more “conveniently” as psychopomps like Charon, the raven and even St. Peter. Attempts by the puny human mind to understand this phenomenon by casting death into easily digestible anthropomorphic forms…

His quest for invinciblity, if not true immortality, had taken him to the ancient lands where magic and the occult had been a way of life; the groves and stone circles of his homeland and Ireland, the necropolises and pyramids of Egypt, the catacombs of East Europe, the dark alleys of Istanbul, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Persia and now India. Till now, all his efforts had been in vain, the old religions and the arcane knowledge of those lands had been all but obliterated by the new faiths. The prophets and seers massacred, the books of the dead burned, the runes scraped off, the metal plates melted.... all by the ravaging Jihads, reconquistas, crusades and inquistions. Even the wizarding world of those lands were not spared. The new faiths that seeped into the sequestered wizarding community had made them forsake the occult and the dark. The demons and the Jinns were trapped in crystals and hidden away for eternity... if not destroyed; the dark tomes burned by holy fires; the Golems returned to clay and rock; the black eggs of the phoenixes destroyed by powerful incantations.... it was a merciless massacre. Priceless knowledge, "good" and "bad"collected through millenia of efforts had been destroyed at the exhorting of a few priests who were terrified of what they couldn't comprehend. An aged Dervish in Isfahan advised him that it is perhaps only in the ancient land of India (where every juggernaut had ground to a screeching halt) that he would find his answers. Yes, India with her unbroken tradition and arcane teachings might have something to give him.... hadn't she blessed so many knowledge seekers from all corners of the globe? Didn't she still hide the magical realms, the ancient sages, the Nine and their arcane knowledge, the immortals from the earlier age? Didn't she stay away from the so-called international wizarding community with their ridiculous "ministers of magic"? This is perhaps the only land where the powers keep to themselves, unhindered, immutable and magnificient..... Yes, he would find his answers here.

Tom Riddle's mind was buoyant as he walked to a cremation ghat and settled near the burning pyre of what once used to be a man. His thoughts raced back to that last year at Hogwarts, to the chain of events that led him into his dark quest and pilgrimage....


It was not that sixteen year old Tom Riddle was a stranger to darkness.... hadn't he killed his own father and his grandparents, hadn't he framed his own slow-witted uncle and did he not release the terrible Basilisk and killed a filthy mudblood? Most importantly, did he not pour a part of his self, his malice and his wisdom into an ordinary diary which could outlast even his mortal self.... long before he actually killed? Riddle himself not knew exactly know how he achieved it, people would later say "Riddle sealed a part of his 16 year old self in the diary", but one wonders even if HE knew what he was doing. Was he trying to emulate his old hero, Sauron who poured his entire self into the "indestructible" One Ring? Sauron was a powerful Maiar, a Demigod.... and he was fictional too! Tom Riddle on the other hand was real, he was still human... well, atleast for the moment he was. However, Riddle had sensed something; a palpable sundering of his being when he killed his father (and such a likeness of his father he was) and his grandparents a year later. The sundering of the soul actually started when he opened the chamber and started cleansing Hogwarts of the Mudbloods.... The death of innocent Myrtle, though not by his own hand had caused the first gash in the fabric of his soul. The warping of his soul amused Tom Riddle more than anything... the chaos and the distort of the being that would have driven any lesser person insane was embraced wholeheartedly. It was like a challenge, a new dimension had opened.... he was not just Tom Marvolo Riddle anymore.
It was actually the weak sundered part of his self that he manifested into the diary. He still did not know how he was able to do that, all he did was listen to the voices of the generations of Slytherins surging through his veins.... quite serendipitous that episode was. Riddle himself began to understand the nature of his diary only in bits and pieces.... it took hours of introspection and experimentation before he realised that the diary indeed contained that sundered part of his soul. Now that his horizons were further expanded with his multiple murders, Tom Riddle needed to understand what was happening to him. He HAD to know if he could go further.....

The Hogwarts Library turned out to be useless in his quest for a greater understanding of the phenomenon...... it was woefully stocked when it came to tomes of the Dark Arts. Probably it had something to do with the official policy of Hogwarts which stresses teaching *defense* against the dark arts..... or maybe Dumbledore's cliche might have succeeded in keeping the resources out of bounds of curious students. It was a chance encounter with a grizzled wizard at The Hog' Head pub that same year where he stumbled on a possible answer to his questions. The said wizard, a decorated veteran from the Great War of the wizarding realm was totally sloshed and bloated with alcohol that fateful night. In the course of Riddle's toadying and innocuous questions on the finer aspects of the Great War, the veteran boasted on being on "a part of this super secret mission with Dumbledore to the forests of Saxony to locate something called the Horcrux..... a demonic talisman that was the source of Grindelwald's immense powers". Apparently, they were briefed only that destroying the talisman would hasten the defeat the of the dark wizard who was causing untold mayhem in the wizarding as well as the muggle world. Riddle had questioned the wizard endlessly, to increasing frustration..... the wizard-soldier knew nothing more than the grunt work he was assigned to. He did not know who or what this Horcrux thing was, he did not even see it. It was seen only by Dumbledore who went right through that terrible door or fire and returned in about an hour, his face flush with victory and relief... while the rest of the team stood guard against any devices of the Grindelwaldist Ahnenerbe and the Thule Society.

Contacting Dumbledore was out of the question, he had been wary of Riddle since the day he first laid eyes on him. The Head Master was aloof and quite unaccessible, he was close to Dumbledore and Riddle did not enjoy a personal relationship with the headmaster either. But Professor Slughorn might know something......


Riddle snapped back to the present at the sounds of a group of ascetics chanting lustily to... whichever power they were invoking. A wild, ash smeared and naked ascetic was foraging the still warm embers of the pyre while the rest gathered in a circle around the pyre and called to the heavens in a primeval voices.
"This land was so strange, the conventions so different, the occult more unbridled and developed..... no statist Ministry of Magic peeking over your shoulder either", mused Riddle once again. He was certain the quest for power over death, the quest that took a definite form in Horace Slughorn's office so many years ago will be successfull here.
"I already possess receptables to hold a soul like mine and I have done what is required to go further than any wizard ever had.... " said Tom Riddle to himself, "..... but I do not know the way. I have traced the footsteps of my predecessors and I have finally come to the land that holds the answer. I swear on the name of Salazar Slyther, my quest shall come to fruition here!"

Riddle solemnly rose up from the stone cut steps that led to the river and walked into the night, apparently yet another white man who had come to India seeking answers to esoteric questions. The ordinary locals, the beat police, the false priests and the faux "sages" paid no attention to him... yet there were some in Varanasi who sensed the Black-Hole that was Tom Marvolo Riddle.



At 10:43 AM, Blogger Alexis Leon said...

I should say your teachers and friends are right. You should continue this. I read your story with great interest and I was amazed by your command of the language and your writing style. Your research is excellent and the way in which you connect the facts, fiction and fictional facts makes reading it a very enjoyable and worthwhile effort. Since my GK is not as good as yours on a few occasions I had to google to find the connection.

I urge you to continue your ‘saga’ and I assure you that it is worth the electrons it is consuming. Best wishes and looking forward to the next part.

At 5:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think its a great effort.

i feel that u should however make the plot move quicker. i somewhere get the feeling that u are being burdened by the references that you keep making. i would prefer the fredrick forsyth style where he finds space to give you gyaan on everythign under the sun but still keeps a plot tight. looking forward to part 2.


At 8:46 AM, Blogger Jiby said...

aliya, superb...thats it....u have made a greats start...u know i never wanted to read lotr and harry potter but now since ur trying something out in the same genre i decided i would read your work atleast!

i see jaru has some advise for u...u know i cant critique anyone...i guess since this was chap1 u had to give us a lot of background helped me anyways coz i know little of the characters in lotr and hp.

the readers will come along...keep at it...since you have started a good effort i want you to coninue this saga to its fruition whether readers come along or not, which i think will! if u want another reason to keep continuing with this tale...think abt not getting little debbies swiss rolls...haha!!!

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Anand K said...

@ Jacob:
Heil, Herr Yakov! :) Log time no see...
You are right on being burdened by info and links.... that is a problem faced by hard sci-fi/fantasy/mil/spy fiction writers all over the world. (Of course I am not in the same leauge like Stepehn Baxter or Tolkien or Melville or Richard Condon!). I faced this prob when I first read Tolkien after our entrance exams (in British Library)... felt bored! However, I was saved by an illustrated encyclopaedia of Middle Earth which sort of lightened things up... Sometime later when I got hooked on Stephen Baxter, I found myself in a similar spot.... It was much easier reading the space operas and simple fantasies/thrillers like Star Trek and Robin Cook and Crystal Shard etc.

The thing is , I loathe leaving loose ends. I feel the reader needs a better deal and needs to get the very fine picture , rather than the big picture.... This funda is a take on Stephen King's uvaacha on writing stories which he recounts in his semi autobiographical "On Writing". He illustrates it with a very "modern-minimalistic" and "inert" rendering of the Hansel and Gretel story.... There were two siblings in Prussia who had a bitch of a step mother and a hen pecked, hick dad. Now the bitch couldn't stand the kids and she sent them into the forest where they were captured by a witch. This witch was big time into cannibalism.... :D King says one *can* write a rather viable story in this way and convery a message, but the magic of storytelling lies in the small things... the seemingly trivial details. In the Hansel and Gretel story, the magic is in the kids using marbles and later breadcrumbs as markers so that they don't get lost.... the magic is in the ravens eating the breadcrumbs which makes the children lose their way deep into the forest. The magic is in the house of candy and the kindly old woman who apparently loves children...

See my point? IMO it's in the details that the actual story lies... Of course the problem is when the details I put are "Elvis has entered the building" quality trash (unlike the real 7th circle magic woven by the Grimms or King or Alan Moore). Still, I must try in this regard... maybe I'll do a decent job in my endeavour. I was trying to provide a comprehensive backstory to Lordy-Voldy and weave in the rich and mysteriou occult/myth of India (and other lands in the subsequent parts).... wish I could do that better without the reader finding himsekf in a quagmire of trivia and hard theory.

{PS: Our Sakaria has also written a hilarious "post modernist"minimalist story (similar to King's version of Hansel and Gretel) as a F*ck You to all those brave new kids who chastise the older writers for adding "romance", "details" and condiments like that.

Similarly; In Saturday Night Live, Mike Myers (Austin Powers fame) had a running gag where he played Dieter, a supremely bored, dissolute, world weary, gothic German expressionist and minimalist. This was also a satire on the fad modern-expressionist-minimalist culture that originated in Germany.

PPS: Maybe it's a vampire thing that I try to add in all the details and tie up the loose ends ;).. you know, they can't just resist puzzles, knots, riddles etc!

At 11:05 AM, Blogger Anand K said...

@ Alexis:
Thanx for the kind words Alexis... I have a general outline of the story and I have created a skeleton draft. Been working on it for like 2 weeks in my spare time.... that's why I had a long hiatus following my Omkara post nearly a month ago. I have sorta conceptualised a three part story of Voldemort chronicling his life from 1944 to mid 1970s (i.e end of Hogwarts phase to his rise as the Dark Lord)... lemme see if I am actually able to pull it off! For all I know, I might get a writers block or I may be trapped stone cold.... or worse, the whole story could go haywire!

As Kamraj Nadar always said, "Parkalaam, parkalaam.." ;)

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Anand K said...

@ Jiby:
The blackmail was below the belt, you vile monster! You know Debbie is my weakness! ;)

Thanx for the comments though... as I told Alexis, let me see how far I can go. The main factor that's goading me is "to see if I could do it" (as Sean Connery says in Entrapment ;) )...

I guess I should make a new (mebbe seekret!) blog to post my fiction so that I won't chase away my regular readers who might be incensed at this upstart pawing on Harry Potter world! Moreover, if I score a turkey, nobody will know! My Honor and Dignity (H&D as we quip in BR) will be intact... :P

PS: Dad and Mom are coming here on the 5th... they preponed their plans... they'll be back on the 13th. But pleej ask ur mom and sis to carry out the planned Op Debbie nevertheless! Dad loves it too! And mebbe he can find some way to send them to me right away.

PPS: Instead of two swiss roll packs, can you ask them to try for the one Boston Creme Roll pack and one Swiss Roll pack? Pretty Pretty Pleae? Much Gracias, Senor Hiby!

PPPS: Readers guess what, I am a foodie beyond reason or redemption!

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Anand K said...

Oh forgot something.... this post is *CHAPTER 1* of Part-I. More chapters to follow in this part which I call The Horcrux. Couldn't specify it in the site.... too bad the software doesn't allow multiple lines in the title.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger >|' ; '| said...

komrade have exceeded our expectations. whens the next epidose coming? :) put in some romantic flings for dear voldemort(just kidding!)

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Anand K said...

@ Poison:
Soon, my brother Sith..... soon.

PS: Watch out for the torrid love-hate equation between Voldemort and Nagini. :P

At 9:45 PM, Blogger venus said...

You have made a great effort dude! This is very detailed and intense review. May be I should wait for your reviews before I go watch a movie from now on :)

At 7:49 AM, Blogger jhantu said...

interesting, but why the revert to fiction??

At 11:20 PM, Blogger Anand K said...

@ Venus:
Errr, you replied to ze wrong post mein Venus-San! My Omkara post is in the archives....

@ Jhantu:
Zimblee... just to see if I could do it. Guess I am going to write a whole Part and post it in bulk (unlike in chapters).... in *another* blog.

At 6:17 AM, Blogger venus said...

ooops! I thought this was another review of Varanasi or something :( I remember a new movie coming up i thought is called varanasi :(:(

At 6:18 AM, Blogger venus said...

btw, I have been wondering since long, and so, here, i'm asking u--- why do u have oosama pic in uvaach ??

At 2:24 PM, Blogger deepthi said...

Superb!Tom Riddle and his dark side and his past had been the most intriguing in J.K.Rowling's imagination, according to me. Great start to explore more abt him!! Just a critical comment, I feel you could come to the point whenz the next chapter coming?

At 10:07 PM, Blogger Anand K said...

Phirst of all, sorry for ze delay in relying. Uncle Anand was offline for a few days on account of chaperoning/escorting Mahabali during his yearly visit to our fair state. I had to drag him kicking and screaming out of his palace 'coz he DID NOT want to see one more grotesque and baroque Pookkalam made of powdered brick, salt, saffron and assorted fake/cheap flowers they pick off the road.

@ Venus: Osama on my page? Zimbly Onlee. Absurdist Black Humor, eh? What "better" that a d1ckhead like bin Laden to grace my recent pearls of wisdom? :P

@ Deepthi: EP....... long time no see! :)
Thanx for the comments! They are most welcome....
The second chapter is under construction. It is very difficult to flesh out a character, add dimensions to him/her.... to write something that isn't mundane and hasn't been said before. I'm exploring some stuff on Indian dark occult, symbolism and fringe sects before actually penning it down.

PS: In Sandman series by Neil Gaiman, there is this library of books that were conceptualised/dreamed of but never written. Hope this "tome" of mine doesn't end up there. ;)

At 5:08 AM, Blogger Pooja said...

Long time no blog...whats up?

At 2:47 AM, Blogger Maya Cassis said...

Dude!Write a book!get on it ...move it move it

At 12:58 AM, Blogger Anand K said...

@ Pooja: Your wish has been fulfilled, My Lady! ;)

@ Maya: Book? I am sorta considering it. Been reading a bit of theory of dramatic storytelling thesedays so as to polish my writing skills. I have made a basic framework but I need to flesh thing sout, scrape off the rough edges and cross a lot of t's...
Hope I get some spare time soon!

At 6:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

my two cents:
i have read LOTR n all d harry potter series books, so i appreciate the attempt to weave a story in between the two. however ppl nowadays have very short attention spans especially while reading of a computer screen, so it might make the story more reader friendly if u would care to b somewhat more succinct.

At 5:41 AM, Anonymous sweety said...

Look at this great post about mysterious places! I really like that!


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