Hi, there! Tagging you from Review Tag!
So more than anything, I love what you did with Salazar in this chapter. His goals are becoming more clear, as is the way that he's able to manipulate young Venn. I'm pleased, in one way, to see that I was right about Edeline's relationship with Nentres Peverell becoming a big problem for Venn. In another way, it's enabled Salazar to spring his trap on Venn. There's no way to know whether Peverell, coming from an old and presumable wealthy family in his own right, even has designs on Venn's barony, but it's an easy string for Salazar to pull. I also liked the contrast between how tiresome Venn finds it to manage his family's lands and how desperate he is not to lose them. He's a classic young man in the sense that he doesn't really seem to know what he really wants. Now, apparently, it's to be married straight away.
Salazar is brilliantly menacing with his talk of turning the Basilisk loose on the muggle villagers. I'm still a bit curious as to why Venn finds the idea as odious as he does, having no particular love for muggles. Is the Basilisk just such a horribly dark creature that no wizard who isn't dark would ever condone the keeping of one?
The game of truth or dare between Helena and her servants nicely complimented the frame of mind that she seems to be in. It's a bit childish, which is sort of how she's behaving at this point. I understand her motivations, but the way she's going about avoiding her upcoming wedding doesn't reflect all that well on her. She and Venn are well matched in that sense. It's awful that fate has thrown the obvious barriers up between the two of them. Otherwise, the two of them could be quite a pair, I think.
For once, I thought Venn came off as very reasonable when he made his ultimatum to Helena. I don't think he necessarily sees through the smokescreen she throws up to conceal her true motivations, but the effect is pretty much the same. He's been patient and understanding as he can be, and he's putting the onus squarely back on her shoulders. I felt a bit badly for her, although not nearly as bad as I felt for Ainsley and Isobel. Awkward...
And then you turned me right around and left me feeling terrible for poor Helena at the end. There was something incredibly pithy and tangible about the imagery of a young woman packing a few belongings and fleeing. It was really easy to relate to, no matter the separation in time. I liked the idea that she took the ink, quill and parchment along. It holds open the door, albeit narrowly, to the possibility that this isn't permanent. And then there's the diadem. This is really it, isn't it? This is the moment it became lost. You brought an interesting sort of practicality to something that's wrapped in lore and legend by the time of the books. If worse came to worse, she was actually planning to sell it.
I can really feel the story drawing to a close at this point. Both Venn and Helena have drawn their lines in the sand and Helena has stepped past a point of no return. Rowena has sealed her own fate, in a way, and Salazar's schemes are in full swing. Only two more chapter to go. Such sweet sorrow!
Author's Response: Hey Dan, nice to hear from you again!
I love your analysis of the relationship between Venn and Salazar. I think you're the first person to consider that Salazar might be lying to Venn about Nentres's claim to his inheritance, though you're right that what Venn believes may be more important than the truth in this scenario. Once again we see that Venn wants to have his cake but have someone else cut it for him, in a manner of speaking. Obviously he's not ready to be a good husband to Helena right now.
I think Venn's opposition to the Basilisk is more an issue of control than a reflection on his true feelings about the creature. Salazar's deep-seated evil is starting to frighten him, definitely, but more than that he worries about what effects this dangerous beast could have for the upcoming wedding and his ability to settle into his reign. It's just kind of a disruption for him, though I do think he's made of slightly better moral fiber than his uncle.
If they were more mature, I think Venn and Helena would be a great match and could really bring their kingdoms together. As is, though, they're obviously very immature and not ready to enter marriage or adulthood. On the other hand, though, as you mentioned--they do seem to have developed a bit of insight as to how to deal with one another, Venn with his loss of patience and Helena with her dislike of Venn's attitude. Again, with a slightly bigger dose of maturity, we could have two good rulers.
This is Helena's great escape, yeah. It's her last ditch attempt to put off or cancel the wedding by virtue of her just not being there and being hidden from everyone else. She's practical in some ways, with the tiara (well, sort of... it's a dead giveaway as to her identity), but not in others, like packing a whole wardrobe of fancy gowns. She's really just a scared little girl.
I hope to see you back for the last two chapters. Thanks so much for your kind review!