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E - Everyone

Chapter 18.1: Ilami

by Lightsong


As she was walking through the hallway to her room, she found Aleveri strolling around. Joy filled her chest, prompting her to run to her friend. She didn’t care how childish she was acting in front of the other students. It was Aleveri. Her friend was alive. Hopefully, the same went to Haka, but right now she had to meet Aleveri. She had to make sure Aleveri was one hundred percent healed.

‘Aleveri!’ she said as she arrived in front of Aleveri. She hugged Aleveri before the latter could react, squeezing her a little bit.

‘Can’t - breath,’ Aleveri said before Ilami broke up the embrace.

‘Sorry. How are you?’ Ilami said, holding Aleveri’s hands as if they were her life line.

Aleveri gave her a weak smile and raised her shoulders slightly. ‘Alive and well, as you can see,’ she said. Instead of looking at Ilami, her eyes were focused on somewhere else - perhaps a wall that Ilami couldn’t find as being significant.

‘Is... is there something wrong?’ Ilami asked, noticing Aleveri’s change of attitude.

Aleveri sighed and shook her head. ‘Nothing. I guess my near-death attempt to heal someone takes a toll on me. I feel weak.’

Ilami grabbed Aleveri’s hand and led Aleveri to her room. They needed to talk about what happened to Aleveri after Jaxin’s people brought her to Natural-knew-where. After that, Ilami could ask her about Haka. Maybe that boy was alive as well as was heading to Gael. Ilami felt like skipping in joy right now, but she had to control herself. Being too childish would tarnish her reputation in the academy. Aleveri was silent as they went to Xesar-blessed dormitory.

Thankfully, Ilami’s roommate wasn’t in there. Ilami and Aleveri sat on Ilami’s bed facing each other.

‘What happened?’ Ilami asked. ‘Tell me everything.’

Aleveri shook her head. ‘There’s nothing to tell. The school’s ward doesn’t have the experts needed to treat my wounds, so I was taken to a special one. They treated me there.’

Ilami was silence for a few seconds before saying, ‘Is that all?’

Aleveri nodded. ‘I would say their healing magic is pretty advanced, but other than that, it’s a pretty normal treatment.’

Ilami wanted to believe Aleveri but she couldn’t. Not even a little bit. If there was a special ward in the academy, then why should it be concealed from the public’s view? There was no reason for that. She had the feeling Aleveri was hiding something, but what? At the end, Aleveri was here, well and alive. And yet… her actions felt somewhat off. For the time being, Ilami let the oddity slide.

‘How about Haka?’ she asked.

Aleveri sighed. ‘He was in a worse condition than I. I’d done everything I could to prevent him from dying, but I don’t know. We were treated separately.’ She bit her lower lip. ‘If they could treat me, then surely they could treat them. I think… I think we should just wait for his appearance. I’m confident it’s anytime soon.’

It wasn’t a clear answer, but Ilami felt slightly relieved. Although she wanted to tell Aleveri about her alliance with Felaris, she could feel Aleveri would resist to the idea. After what had happened, she wouldn’t be surprised if Aleveri force her to make another promise.

‘What have you been up to when I was gone?’ Aleveri asked, her eyes sharp on Ilami.

Ilami looked at her with an even gaze. ‘Nothing much. My extra training has been conducted by Mr. Haifei, though, so there. I guess Gael is too affected by what happened to Haka.’

Aleveri nodded. ‘As he should be.’ She frowned. ‘Don’t investigate the Restricted Area, Ilami. It’s obvious by now we students can’t handle whatever is in store there.’

I knew it, Ilami thought. ‘I won’t.’ She had to lie since Aleveri didn’t know the severeness of what the Restricted Area could contain. She had to know why Dayel and Arafel died, and whether Alyosha was involved in Arafel’s death. It was just the right thing to do, and if she ignored it, it would just irritate her.

Aleveri looked at her as if she wasn’t convinced, but then she sighed. ‘I guess I’ll have to trust your words. You’re smart, so I know you won’t risk investigating if it means doing it alone.’

ilami smiled. ‘That’s just it. Have you prepared for the upcoming test?’

‘How dare you! You know I don’t have time to study for it,’ Aleveri said. ‘That being said, it’s not too late. I can massive study in these couple of days.’

‘I expect nothing less from you,’ Ilami said, smiling wider. ‘I have to go meet Mr. Haifei. Want me to accompany you to your dorm?’

‘And feeling like a proper lady? I won’t pass that chance, of course.’ Aleveri said, also smiling. Suddenly, she intertwined her arm with Ilami’s. ‘Shall we?’

As they exited Ilami’s room, Ilami was thinking about their intertwined arms. Curious, she thought. I actually don’t mind having Aleveri’s arm around mine. Why isn’t it as uncomfortable as Seya grabbing my hand? Perhaps… perhaps I’m feeling what Gael feel with Haka? Is such thing possible?

Once Ilami left from Aleveri’s room, she went outside of the mansion. The afternoon air rejuvenated her and the sunlight warmed her. She went to the open field and found Mr. Haifei sitting under a tree. He wore spectacles, and in his hand was a book. It was an odd sight to behold. Who would have thought the stoic teacher specialized in combat lessons would bother to have a dip in the well of knowledge? In that exact moment, he looked more like a teacher for Scholar students than Fighter students.

‘You’re five minutes late,’ Mr. Haifei said without looking away from bis book.

Ilami rolled her eyes. It had been a couple of weeks since they practiced, and this was the first time she was late. And for a good reason too. ‘I met Aleveri. She just got out from… wherever.’

Mr. Haifei closed his book. ‘I see,’ he said. ‘After what she has went through, how is she doing?’

Ilami raised her eyebrows, her heart nearly stopped beating. ‘What do you mean?’

Turning away from his book, Mr. Haifei looked at her with his deep black eyes. ‘She was with you in the Restricted Area, wasn’t she?’

He knew! Ilami mentally screamed. Instinctively, she looked around, and was relieved no one was nearby. Then, she focused back on Mr. Haifei. ‘All this time, you’ve known. Why didn’t you say anything?’

Mr. Haifei shrugged. ‘There’s no reason for me to. I was being serious. How was Aleveri?’

‘She’s fine,’ Ilami said. Half of her wanted to start their lesson just to get away from this sensitive topic, while another half was curious how much Mr. Haifei knew and whether – whether -

‘All staffs know,’ Mr. Haifei said, as if he could read her mind. ‘We have to, if we are to help them conceal what they’re doing.’

Everyone knew. The thought sank. The teachers, librarians – even the nurses – knew. And they acted like – they acted like nothing happened. She felt pain piercing her gut. Betrayal. It was the only thing that could explain why she felt sick. It wasn’t just Jaxin she couldn’t trust – it was everyone who worked for Mother.

‘This is to be expected, Ilami,’ Mr. Haifei said, standing up. ‘Whatever Ms. Venaria has planned in the Restricted Area, it’s too big for people who work in the academy to not know – or at least, suspect.’

She felt anger like it was a second materializing around her. ‘You, who teach students to become better than their current selves – to help them achieve success – are also the one who help end their lives? Is that the kind of teacher you are?’

Mr. Haifei’s eyes turned steely. When he spoke, his voice was deep. ‘You have no idea what you are talking about. You don’t know about us staffs. Not all of us support whatever Ms. Venaria is doing in there, and to those who do, well, you can’t say their reasons are too simple to be chastised.’

‘What is Mother planning in there?’ Ilami asked, pressing on. ‘It must have something to do with experimenting people, mustn’t it? Innocent, unwilling people, right?’

‘I won’t tell you. You’re not worthy,’ Mr. Haifei said. With that, he tossed her a sword he had taken near the tree, and held one himself. ‘Now, we have a few classes left before your test start. Let us prepare yourself.’

Ilami held caught the sword and held it too tightly. I’m not worthy? The memory of Mother telling her about Gael’s secret flashed in her mind, as well as when Mother told her not to supervise Gael anymore. She gritted her teeth. She was frustrated of being told she wasn’t worthy. As far as she knew, she had the right to know what the academy was doing, seeing as she was one of its students. Here, she had found someone who could tell him the academy’s secret. If being worthy was required for Mr. Haifei to tell her about it, then… she would show him she was worthy.

And then he would pay for what he had done.


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Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:05 am
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DarkPandemonium wrote a review...



Hiya Lightsong! I read this a few days back but it's taken me a little while to get round to reviewing it. Let's get started.

Small Comments

It was Aleveri. Her friend was alive. Hopefully, the same went for Haka, but right now she had to meet Aleveri. She had to make sure Aleveri was one hundred percent healed.

'Aleveri!’ she said as she arrived in front of Aleveri. She hugged Aleveri before the latter could react, squeezing her a little bit.


Wow, that's a whole lot of Aleveri! Try swapping out some of these names for pronouns, because this passage is very repetitive at the moment.

‘Sorry. How are you?’ Ilami said, holding Aleveri’s hands as if they were her lifeline.


'Lifeline' is one word.

Aleveri sighed and shook her head. ‘Nothing. I guess my near-death attempt to heal someone took a toll on me. I feel weak.’


This is one of these times where you're making your characters say too much. The dialogue feels far too expository. Unless she's being sarcastic (which I'm guessing she isn't), it just doesn't feel natural for her to speak so specifically about her 'near-death attempt to heal someone'. Ilami was there - she remembers it. It just comes across like you're trying to not-so-subtly jog the reader's memory. If she just said something like "Nothing. Just...washed out, I guess. I still feel weak." I feel like it would come across more naturally.

Ilami was silent for a few seconds


She had the feeling Aleveri was hiding something, but what?


I can't help thinking that Ilami is being uncharacteristically dumb here. She's literally just found out that the academy is experimenting on people, yet she seems pretty blind to the possibility that Aleveri might have been on the receiving end of some kind of dodgy treatment.

‘If they could treat me, then surely they could treat them. I think… I think we should just wait for his appearance. I’m confident it’s anytime soon.’


Needlessly wordy and a bit weirdly expressed. Just something like 'I'm sure he'll come back soon' would do fine.

It was just the right thing to do, and if she ignored it, it would just irritate her.


'Irritate' seems like the wrong word. An itch is irritating. A spot on your eyebrow is irritating. Ignoring a potential illegal conspiracy that has already claimed at least two lives? It would haunt her.

I can massive study in these couple of days.’


Iffy expression because you're modifying a verb with an adjective, which isn't great. 'Study massively' would be the more grammatical alternative, but it still sounds weird to me. Maybe 'cram' would be better? People often talk about cramming for a test.

Curious, she thought. I actually don’t mind having Aleveri’s arm around mine. Why isn’t it as uncomfortable as Seya grabbing my hand? Perhaps… perhaps I’m feeling what Gael feel with Haka? Is such thing possible?


Hmm, this feels like a pretty big leap. Ilami seems to be forgetting the crucial difference between Seya and Aleveri: the latter is actually her friend. It's not exactly uncommon for female friends to link arms and make physical contact. It feels like you're trying to push for Ilami discovering things about her sexuality, but there are more natural ways to do it than this. Revelations like that, at least in my experience, tend to creep up on you.

Ilami raised her eyebrows. Her heart nearly stopped beating.


There was a comma splice here. I'd also scrap 'beating' just because it's a bit redundant - if a heart stops, we know it won't be beating.

‘All staffs know,’ Mr. Haifei said


When you're talking about people employed by a particular organisation, 'staff' does not have a plural 's' form. It's a mass noun, which means Mr Haifei should say 'the staff' here. If you want to reference them in the singular, you'd have to say 'a staff member' or 'a member of staff'.

(It is possible to say 'a staff', but only if you're talking about a long stick, like a magical staff!)

Overall Thoughts

1) So, I've got some mixed feelings about this chapter. The first thing I want to address is the matter of Mr Haifei and the rest of the academy staff knowing about Venaria's sinister deeds. For starters, why on earth does Mr Haifei just...tell Ilami that he knows about it? Considering that Ilami literally just attempted to break into the Restricted Area, it seems beyond idiotic to stoke her curiosity further and effectively confirm that the conspiracy is real. If Mr Haifei opposed Venaria, perhaps I could understand why he would reveal all to Ilami, but it doesn't seem like he does. It's not like he tells her anything useful, either, which begs the question of why he bothers to tell her anything at all.

Secondly, I'm not convinced that Venaria would tell her staff what she was doing. Even if it's hard to conceal, actually telling them about her goals is still massively reckless. Given how many people work in the academy, she's putting herself at huge risk of whistleblowing and blackmail. I could understand if the staff had suspicions, or if they looked the other way when they shouldn't - but the idea that all of them would be actively playing a part in the conspiracy is just too much for me. It just seems far more likely that Venaria would keep everything as hush-hush as she possibly could.

You could still maintain Ilami's sense of helplessness just by showing the staff as passive rather than actively involved. If she desperately brought her suspicions to a teacher she trusted only to have them brush them off and tell her to leave it alone, I think that would capture the same sense of betrayal while also maintaining more realism. Remember the old phrase: 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing'.

2) I'm very glad to have Aleveri back, but I do think her reintroduction was a bit on the rushed side. It felt like we hadn't really settled into the chapter before BAM, she's back. I also think you need to be more subtle in how you portray her. Right now, it's so completely obvious that there's something wrong with her. I don't know if it's out-and-out brainwashing or if they've just terrified her into submission, but it's plain as day that something isn't right. I wish it was a bit less evident. I want to relate to Ilami's uncertainty about whether she's trustworthy, but I don't, because it's so clear that there's something wrong with her.

3) I wasn't fully sure about Ilami's reaction, as well. Given how strangely Aleveri was acting and the fact that she was carted off to some unknown place to be treated, I'd expect her to be much more wary, but she seemed pretty unperturbed by Aleveri's odd behaviour most of the time.

4) The ending does leave me hopeful that we're going to get back towards some action soon. We've been lingering in some slower, allegiance-making chapters for quite a while now, and while they have been interesting, I'm keen for you to pick up the thread of the main plot again and start revealing more about what Venaria is doing. It feels like it's been building and building for so long that I really want to get to the heart of it.

So, still an enjoyable read overall, but there were some parts of this chapter that didn't convince me. My main question is why Mr Haifei bothered telling Ilami about the staff involvement only to clam up and call her unworthy of the truth a few lines later. Way to make her even more desperate to find out the truth.

Keep writing! :D
~Pan




Lightsong says...


Thanks for the review! :D I promise you, everything will be answered when the time comes... which might not be soon! >.> I'm taking baby steps in carrying the plot, since I feel most comfortable that way. >.>



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Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:44 pm
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Mea wrote a review...



Hey Light! Back again as always. :)

Small things
The first thing I noticed is that in the first sentence, you didn't refer to Ilami by name, and that confused me for a moment until I remembered that the chapter title was Ilami, so we had to be in her viewpoint. A good rule of thumb whenever you start a new scene is to use all the characters names as soon as possible so the reader isn't taken by surprise.

‘Can’t - breath,’

A small grammar thing - "breath" is a noun, but here you're using it as a verb and that's incorrect. The verb you meant to use is "breathe," with an 'e'.

Natural-knew-where.

I thought this expression was a bit clunky. I know you were trying to base it on "god-knows-where," but it didn't quite sound right because "natural" is three syllables instead of one. But I think you could make it work if you said "Naturals-knew-where" instead, since there are more than one world - I've seen other fantasy books use "gods-knew where" and that worked pretty well.

‘How dare you! You know I don’t have time to study for it,’ Aleveri said. ‘That being said, it’s not too late. I can massive study in these couple of days.’

The "how dare you" didn't really make sense to me. I can tell she's trying to tease Ilami, but it just doesn't quite work. Also, instead of "massive study" (which isn't really grammatically correct) try "cram," as in "I can just spend these last couple of days cramming."

Bigger thoughts
Yay, Aleveri is all right! Glad to hear that, though I agree she's keeping secrets from Ilami, particularly about what's going on with Haka.

I didn't really like the way you hinted at a possible relationship between Ilami and Aleveri. It just felt forced, particularly because it's not at all abnormal for friends who are girls to link arms like that, and I feel like Ilami has too much else to think about to be having such a thoughtful reflection on the topic at this moment. I feel like romance is just not something that would cross her mind unless she was suddenly hit with a *serious* crush on someone, which is not what this seems to be with Aleveri.

Wow, I was not expecting all the teachers to know what was going on, though I guess it makes sense. I think you could write the reveal that they all know a bit better - I didn't see anything wrong with Mr. Haifei's statement about the Restricted Area at first, because I thought it would be common knowledge among the teachers (if not the students) that the group had been in the Restricted Area and gotten caught. They would want to know why they weren't in classes. But that doesn't mean they would know about the experimentation, right? So instead I think he should say something that more obviously betrays that he knows.

But I like the fact that all the teachers know - it really adds to the menace. It makes it feel more like the whole school and all the people in power are against them, rather than just Ilami's (slightly insane) mother. So I think this is great and it really ups the stakes.

And I think that might be all I've got for the moment! This was another good chapter, and I'm looking forward to the next as normal. :)




Lightsong says...


Thanks for the review! The part about Ilami and Aleveri is meant to show Ilami is okay when she links arm with Aleveri (as part of friendship), but didn't feel the same when Seya grabbed her hand (as not part of friendship - doesn't feel like it). No romance between Ilami and Aleveri here! :D



Mea says...


Ah, that makes more sense and fits better! I think I got confused because you were comparing it to Gael and Haka, when I really should have remembered that Ilami doesn't know that Gael has a crush on Haka.




The emperor is rich, but he can't buy another day.
— Chinese Proverb