Matrioshka: Moby-Dick, Ahab, Queequeg, Daggoo, Tashtego, Queequeg’s coffin, Ishmael
OK, I’ma put this out there again to get it out of my head: Harry/Voldemort is so obvious that in the book Voldemort’s always already inside Harry. But if you were to rewrite HP from Voldemort’s perspective, a la Wicked, the story would turn out to be Moby Dick, right down to Voldemort’s business, which involves killing people like Harry as a form of routine work.
So here’s the plot synopsis: Voldemort exploits and rends the world as is his wont until in a surprising and ill-fated moment the world resists, and he nearly dies. Years later he obsessively works to conquer this one wrinkle in his otherwise perfect rapacious record. He seeks intelligence of the enemy, he gathers his forces, girds up his body, and confronts again, but he has not adequately understood his place in the drama. Inexplicably again, from his perspective, he fails and dies, condemning all who are with him to endless perdition. Only latecomer Draco Malfoy, meanest of the crew and tutored in humble observation by the bluster of his father, is left to tell the tale. Which he does, with many side discourses on the refreshing vistas presented to young minds by obsessive destruction, the methods of totalitarianism, the majestic power of the werewolf death eaters, the strange and blurry lines between themselves and other monsters, muggles and muggle-friendly wizards, and the uncanny blank blackness of the dementors.
On the flipside, a young whale, marked twice by albinism and scars, is targeted by a strange reaver of the sea, scourge of all whale-kind. Unable to run, he turns and fights the tarred and bannered enemy and miraculously, bizarrely, survives, ingesting in the process the enemy’s leg, which speaks to him ever after of its owner’s hate. He knows from that moment he is marked, and that defense is unknown to his kind against such a foe. He avoids the society of other whales, since he has over him the revenge-genius of the thwarted man. Years later, and after many rumours of the man’s passage, he faces the revenant Ahab and is injured again, but this time he turns on the ship and destroys it, freeing all whale-kind from the tyranny of Ahab’s iron. Moby-Dick, the whale who lived.
Remembering the onion skin logic* of Sandy Petersen’s essay on Call of Cthulhu campaigns, I’m tempted to make a matrioshka of Shadows of Yog-Sothoth or Masks of Nyarlathotep. In each case the denouement scene is the outermost layer: the final mystery is the small beginning – a meeting with an old family friend IIRC.
* Update: from Wikipedia’s CoC page – Sandy Petersen introduced the concept of the Onion Skin: Interlocking layers of information and nested clues that lead the Player Characters from seemingly minor investigations into a missing person to discovering mind-numbingly awful, global conspiracies to destroy the world. …[In] Shadows of Yog-Sothoth… the characters come upon a secret society’s foul plot to destroy mankind, and pursue it first near to home and then in a series of exotic locations.
Sandy says (more or less) that the investigation should start with small occurrences and that each subsequent clue should reveal a larger and more awful mystery, so that at each point of successful resolution the PCs get a strong sense of also getting in deeper over their heads. So that with success comes dread, regarding the next revelation.