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Children with Stars in their Veins (Chapter 2.1)

by mellifera


a/n: hey, thanks for checking out Starry Veins! This is the novel I wrote for Round V of LMS, and it's still a first draft! While I don't discourage any feedback, I prefer not to receive feedback on grammar! I'm not polishing this draft up yet, so I'm not as concerned about editing. I am, of course, open to all feedback, but I ask that you keep this in consideration! Thanks <3

*

[Mishal]

It had been a week since Mishal had been the target of one of Cassius’ pranks. Ember had just finished history lessons with Cassius.

Which was all that say that the pouch attached to the belt at her hip was highly suspect.

Ember’s hair was pulled firmly back into a ponytail that did not even reach her neck, her curls so tight and wild they scrunched into a ball of frizzed auburn hair. Several curls were too short to be secured and fell above her eyes and over her ears. She was carrying one of the standard, blunt training swords. It was loose in her fingers; she wasn’t gripping it right.

She hated training with swords, but it was good for her to practise.

As she stepped into the sandy dust-ring—difficult terrain practise made fighting on steady ground much easier—Mishal sunk the tip of his own blunt sword into the ground and crossed his arms over his chest.

“What’s in the pouch?” he asked.

To Ember’s credit, she met his gaze with determination and raised an eyebrow. If there was an expression that was the opposite of suspicious, she wore it. “Gears. Laska gave ‘em to me to fiddle with. Why?”

He glanced behind her. Alanna was only partially watching, kicking at pebbles with her boot-encased feet, her black hair pulled back in a braided bun that Isadora had probably done for her. If she knew anything about the pouch or its contents, she would have said something.

“If it’s gears, you won’t mind me looking in it then, right?” he asked, though it wasn’t really a question.

She stared at him with sharp amber eyes as if she’d issued some kind of challenge, but she said nothing as he approached her and removed the pouch from her belt. Her cheek twitched.

He sighed before he’d even opened the pouch. She’d been lying. If he hadn’t been thinking about the meeting that Guildmaster Margaretta had pulled him and Isadora aside for, and Cassius sneaking out of the Guildmaster’s study, he might not have noticed.

The pouch was full of a shimmering, dusty substance. Whether it was spell dust that was bound with something mischievous, or it was just glitter. He wasn’t sure which was more unpleasant.

“Tell Cassius to stop interfering with training,” Mishal said. He tried not to think of the last incident, with the hollowed sword that he couldn’t balance or fight with. Or the incident with the tracking hounds. “And you should know better.”

Ember shrugged. “Should I? I’m thirteen.”

He glanced over to the crab apple tree nearby. Rowan was sitting in its branches, scribbling in a leather-bound journal elegantly. There was a clock that chimed every hour on the front cover and engraving around the edge. Rowan offered no back up for Mishal, though whether they were ignoring him or hadn’t noticed was anyone’s guess.

They were wearing a ridiculous hat. Looked like the roof of a tower with a sweeping brim. They, as usual, did not look ridiculous, but the hat did. Mishal didn’t know how they had gotten into the tree without losing the hat or tripping on their flowing robes.

“That’s not an excuse,” he told Ember. “And I’ve told you that before.”

“It’s a double not-excuse!” Alanna chimed in, finally raising her head from her perch on a wooden stool. “Or Mishal won’t train you anymore!”

He opened his mouth to correct her on her delivery, but then shut it. He hadn’t slept well enough for this.

“If I don’t have to train with a sword anymore, I’ll make sure he skips his tailoring lesson with Belle to come himself,” Ember muttered.

“They’re learning embroidery. It’d have to be a good payoff to convince him,” Rowan said, staring skyward at nothing in particular. Their expression was contemplative.

Mishal gave Ember a look. “It’s good for you. It makes you versatile. Swords are more common than hammers or flails, it may be your only option in a situation where you need to defend yourself.”

“Untrue,” Ember said, although she did raise her sword and practise swinging it. She was badly off-balanced and could be disarmed with little effort. “I’m gonna be a blacksmith. I’ll have hammers all around me. I’ll make lots of flails to have around.”

“You won’t always be in a smithy,” he said. Then he picked up his own sword and pointed at her feet. “Start with position. I know that you know that. Quit trying to pretend you’re standing on a wobbling board.”

She corrected her position, somewhat, but still held her sword as though it were covered in thorns. He brought his own sword up and, with a flick of his wrist, knocked it from her hands.

“Eugenia.”

She glared. “Don’t call me that.”

By the time he’d managed to get Ember focused on the training session, Rowan’s journal had chimed sweetly, and Alanna was attempting form the pebbles outside the dust-ring into some kind of picture. Isadora always told her to bring books or at least come to tailoring practise with her and Cassius while Ember was training, but Alanna refused.

The patience of a ten-year-old was not long lived, however. Mishal tried to practise with her and Ember together when he had the chance, but Ember’s stubbornness since they’d begun swordplay was hindering the usual routine.

He was attempting some defensive parrying, when Ember said, “Heard you and Belle are leaving.”

Mishal put his weight too heavily on his left foot. With a similar wrist motion as he had done earlier but with more of a swirl, Ember twisted the training sword from his hand and it clattered uselessly into the sand. She stepped forward and tapped her sword to his chest, tilting her neck back slightly to look up at him.

He swatted it away. The air around them had grown still—as still as could be with other training sessions in the background—and he was now aware of both Alanna and Rowan’s gazes directed at him. “Where did you hear that?”

There was a tight set to Ember’s jaw as she looked up at him, brow stiff. “Raz told me.”

Of course. Cassius must not have snuck off far when the Guildmaster had told him and Isadora about the expedition to the ruins.

Alanna scrambled to her feet, icy eyes wide as she stared between them. “But it’s not true, is it?” She hugged her arms around herself. “It isn’t, right?”

The sound thud of a book shutting made him instinctively turn to look right. Rowan had shut their book and was swinging nimbly down for the tree. Their thick, dark hair swung over their shoulders in a loose braid. They set their journal and mechanical pen on the ground and watched with silent curiosity.

He bent to retrieve his sword. He hadn’t been instructed to keep the expedition silent, but surely if the Guildmaster had wanted them to know, she would have told them? Or had their parents tell them?

Especially Alanna.

word count:

1,173


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Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:48 am
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Vil wrote a review...



I'm baaack! :P

What I Like
“It’s a double not-excuse!” made me smile every time I saw it as I scrolled back and forth on the page.

What I Dislike

It had been a week since Mishal had been the target of one of Cassius’ pranks. Ember had just finished history lessons with Cassius.
Which was all that say that the pouch attached to the belt at her hip was highly suspect.

I feel like this spot here should be summarized a bit better; it feels long and wordy, and I'm about 90% that last sentence there is a fragment. I also don't understand why "with" was placed in italics? Just seems a bit odd...

They were wearing a ridiculous hat. Looked like the roof of a tower with a sweeping brim.

I think you meant to combine these?

Using Ember and Eugenia threw me off for just a moment. It would help if you clarified a bit more clearly that they are the same person.

In Summary
Another great chapter, but it still needs some work!

Have a nice [*insert time of day here*]!!!




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Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:11 pm
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ShadowVyper wrote a review...



Scribs!

Guess who's back... back again... no? Okay, let's just get started...

It had been a week since Mishal had been the target of one of Cassius’ pranks. Ember had just finished history lessons with Cassius.

Which was all that say that the pouch attached to the belt at her hip was highly suspect.


Omg I LOVE this opening!! I was hoping to learn more about Mishal when I saw it was his perspective, and this is such a cute and authentic way for it to open. Maybe he's not as bratty as I initially thought lol. Sounds like he's got a good reason not to like Cassius xD

Whether it was spell dust that was bound with something mischievous, or it was just glitter.


I feel like this is a sentence fragment?

Isadora always told her to bring books or at least come to tailoring practise with her and Cassius while Ember was training, but Alanna refused.


Honestly, this is a confusing sentence to me. There's just a lot of items and people in a single sentence and it's hard to keep it all straight.

There was a tight set to Ember’s jaw as she looked up at him, brow stiff. “Raz told me.”


The number of alternate names in this chapter is also confusing me. I'm guessing Raz is Cassius? And Belle is Isadora? And Eugenia is Ember's real name while Ember is a nickname? But the characters are still so new to me that adding in additional names for them here makes me not-quite-sure I know who is being referenced.

~ ~ ~

This is a really cute chapter! I really like it!

This honestly might be my favorite chapter so far? Seeing things from Mishal's perspective really made him a more relatable and likeable character, and I really liked getting to see a bit more personality from the others as well, such as Rowan with their book in the tree. I am really starting to like your characters a lot more than I did in the first part of chapter one and am really excited to see where you take this!

Keep writing and Happy RevMo!

~Shady

Please enjoy this banner by @starlitmind!

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mellifera says...


Maybe he's not as bratty as I initially thought lol.


I MEAN he is 15 and he thinks he's Very Mature so,,, but he is also a sweetheart. he just be giving that stink eye to Cassius lol

The number of alternate names in this chapter is also confusing me. I'm guessing Raz is Cassius? And Belle is Isadora? And Eugenia is Ember's real name while Ember is a nickname? But the characters are still so new to me that adding in additional names for them here makes me not-quite-sure I know who is being referenced.


I mean, you got them all right! I'm sorry it's confusing, I didn't want to wait for it to be introduced and then it be like "well why wasn't this mentioned sooner :/", you know? but I also know the nicknames are confusing too, so I'm definitely,,, wrestling with that for the next draft.

you're so sweet I weep omg!! I'm so glad you're enjoying it and my babies (I love them all so much but yes some of them are brats. cassius is a complete rat, but he's baby too, so it's ok)

Thank you so much for you're reviews!! they're very helpful AND YOU'RE SO KIND TO ME :') and I so greatly appreciate them <333



ShadowVyper says...


<3333



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Wed Sep 02, 2020 10:49 pm
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starlitmind wrote a review...



Hi hi! I'm loving the story so far, and I'm eager to read the next part :D

Ember had just finished history lessons with Cassius.


I don't really see the need to italicize "with"

Which was all that say that the pouch attached to the belt at her hip was highly suspect.


"Which was all that say that the..." doesn't make sense to me. I think "Which was all to say that the pouch..." makes more sense to me. Also, if you're going to use suspect as a noun, it sounds better with an article before it ("the pouch... was a high suspect"). Or you could change suspect to an adjective ("the pouch... was highly suspect able"). And I agree with other reviewers that that the one liners seem to be a bit overdone.

Looked like the roof of a tower with a sweeping brim.


This technically isn't a sentence by itself. I like your similes though! You always have such unique ones.

and Alanna was attempting form the pebbles outside the dust-ring into some kind of picture.


You need a "to" after "attempting" to make "and Alanna was attempting to from the pebbles..." Otherwise, it doesn't read well.

“Untrue,” Ember said, although she did raise her sword and practise swinging it. She was badly off-balanced and could be disarmed with little effort. “I’m gonna be a blacksmith. I’ll have hammers all around me. I’ll make lots of flails to have around.”


You switch to present tense with "practise" so I'd put that in past tense. Also, I'm loving Ember's character. She's so cute and refreshing! :)

Isadora always told her to bring books or at least come to tailoring practise with her and Cassius while Ember was training, but Alanna refused.


Where I'm from, I use "practice for everything" but I notice you use "practise" as well. I looked it up to confirm and sources said that "practise" is the verb form and "practice" is the noun form. I used this article from the knowledge base British and American Spellings: The Differences Since here, practice is being used as a noun, shouldn't it be "tailoring practice"? Because it's not the action but the noun?

Rowan had shut their book and was swinging nimbly down for the tree.


I believe you meant "from the tree."

Their thick, dark hair swung over their shoulders in a loose braid. They set their journal and mechanical pen on the ground and watched with silent curiosity.


This is a bit nitpicky, but you start these sentences next to each other with the same word. I think it would flow better to change up the sentence structure.

Alanna scrambled to her feet, icy eyes wide as she stared between them. “But it’s not true, is it?” She hugged her arms around herself. “It isn’t, right?”


Uh oh. Aw. Poor her and everyone else.

Ooh, so I feel a bit of tension in the end. I love your writing style, from your similes and descriptions to your subtle characterization. This is such a great story so far. I'm thoroughly enjoying this and can't wait to read what comes next. I hope this helped! :D


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Fri Jun 19, 2020 7:50 am
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HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

So that's a quarter of the way through my goal for Day 1

First Impression: A lot of characters and names that are being introduced her. As I said earlier this is not bad but it just a little difficult to have to keep up with all of this. Overall I think it's a pretty good scene in terms of characters introduced, their appears to be a good amount of personality introduced.

Okay on with it,

It had been a week since Mishal had been the target of one of Cassius’ pranks. Ember had just finished history lessons with Cassius.


This seems like two totally unrelated things that were just fused together.

It was loose in her fingers; she wasn’t gripping it right.


The sword being held loosely has nothing to do with a wrong grip. There's a way to grip and then there's having to grip it tightly.

She hated training with swords, but it was good for her to practise.


These one liners are fun and impactful but you seem to use them far too often.

As she stepped into the sandy dust-ring—difficult terrain practise made fighting on steady ground much easier—Mishal sunk the tip of his own blunt sword into the ground and crossed his arms over his chest.


Mentioning blunt again isn't necessarily. That part can be figured out from the earlier description.

He glanced over to the crab apple tree nearby. Rowan was sitting in its branches, scribbling in a leather-bound journal elegantly.


Scribbling doesn't sound very elegant but it could be just me.

Mishal gave Ember a look. “It’s good for you. It makes you versatile. Swords are more common than hammers or flails, it may be your only option in a situation where you need to defend yourself.”


That sounds contradictory. How can you be versatile by learning to use a common weapon. Seems like learning one of those other things would be the way to be more versatile.

“You won’t always be in a smithy,” he said. Then he picked up his own sword and pointed at her feet. “Start with position. I know that you know that. Quit trying to pretend you’re standing on a wobbling board.”


Wait, can't she just carry around a hammer all the time.

Mishal put his weight too heavily on his left foot. With a similar wrist motion as he had done earlier but with more of a swirl, Ember twisted the training sword from his hand and it clattered uselessly into the sand. She stepped forward and tapped her sword to his chest, tilting her neck back slightly to look up at him.


I think you should make it a touch clearer where the swords are connecting for this disarming technique. If they're just hitting the blade it would never work. You must hit the actual hilt or handle to twist a sword out of someone's hand.

He bent to retrieve his sword. He hadn’t been instructed to keep the expedition silent, but surely if the Guildmaster had wanted them to know, she would have told them? Or had their parents tell them?

Especially Alanna.


Why is he this worried about it? Is he meant to be that way? He does seem to follow the rules a lot.

And we're done.

Overall: Some interesting characters but it still feels like its just a little too much in such a short space of time. Feels like we're just having each character come out, do something to introduce their personality then then next one comes up. The actual plot hasn't begun to flow yet. Still they are done very well and you do a good job making them unique.

As always take what you think will help and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




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Sun Feb 02, 2020 9:17 pm
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yourboysalem wrote a review...



Hello again n_n

I like how we are getting more characters and they're interacting with each other. On that note, I'll have to agree with something that has already been said in the other reviews - we need a little bit more description of the setting and more explanation of who those characters are, what are they like so our mental pictures can be clearer as we go through this dynamic scene.

As of now this is it and I am having fun reading your story, so good on ya! <3




mellifera says...


thank you for your reviews!! <3



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Sat Jan 11, 2020 3:54 pm
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Panikos wrote a review...



Heya, mellifera! Just dropping in for a quick review.

Small Comments

kicking at pebbles with her boot-encased feet


This feels kinda awkward. Do you have to mention that she's wearing boots? I feel like just 'kicking at pebbles' would do the job.

The pouch was full of a shimmering, dusty substance. Whether it was spell dust that was bound with something mischievous, or it was just glitter. He wasn’t sure which was more unpleasant.

“Tell Cassius to stop interfering with training,”


I don't know if I'm missing something because I haven't read the other chapters, but I don't understand how glitter could interfere with training. You open the chapter by mentioning the prank, but it doesn't really come to anything in the end - it'd be nice if it had more payoff and actually did disrupt the lesson in some way.

The bolded sentence is a fragment, too, and not one that works. Maybe change it to 'He wasn't sure whether is was spell dust...'

Ember shrugged. “Should I? I’m twelve.”


Oh man. I love this kid. Is she wrong, though?

Rowan was sitting in its branches, scribbling in a leather-bound journal elegantly.


'Scribbling' doesn't really suggest elegance to me.

“Or Mishal won’t train you anymore!”

He opened his mouth to correct her on her delivery, but then shut it. He hadn’t slept well enough for this.

“If I don’t have to train with a sword anymore, I’ll make sure he skips his tailoring lesson with Belle to come himself,” Ember muttered.


I didn't really get what point Ember was making here. What does her not training with a sword have to do with Mishal skipping tailoring lessons? Maybe I'm just confused because I thought Mishal was some kind of instructor, and therefore wouldn't be having lessons.

Overall Thoughts

It took me a little while to get my teeth into this chapter, but that's not surprising given that I've come into this without context. Like Jabber mentioned, though, it does seem like there are a lot of names to familiarise ourselves with, so I think that contributed to my confusion. Provided that most of the characters have been introduced gradually in the previous chapter, this probably isn't an issue overall. Still, it never hurts to pare down a scene and make sure that there aren't too many names flying around.

That aside, I think the strongest thing about this chapter is the characterisation. I loved Mishal and Ember's interactions - teacher/mentor dynamics are great fun to read about, and you really nail this one. I particularly love Ember's sullen insolence. Mishal seems like a good foil to her.

I think you could've done with a smidge more setting description, just because there are quite a lot of characters in this scene and I wasn't always clear on where they were positioned relative to one another. Other than that, I thought the prose was pretty solid. Your dialogue is particularly good - nicely paced and distinctive to each character. There are a few moments where I couldn't quite untangle the topic of conversation, but a lot of that's probably down to me having not read earlier chapters.

The mention of the expedition is a nice hook to tie into the next bit. Overall, I enjoyed reading this.

Keep writing! :D
~Pan




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JabberHut wrote a review...



UH. UH. ALANNA? WHY ALANNA? Because she's young or is sHE SPECIAL?? WHY ALANNA?

Okay, FIRST OF ALL. Ember is adorable and I love her already. She is spunky, I love her freaking HAIR, and she wants to be a freakinG BLACKSMITH I MEAN OMG I LOVE HER ??? Children nerds like this smithy engineer girl is among my FAVORITE KIND OF CHARACTERS.

And omg she is fearless. And I think coupled with Mishal, these two are just going to be a joy. They both are critical of the other, but they clearly care and respect each other enough that it's just so endearing. They're basically family. The dynamic is going to be so much fun.

To think that the magic dust (or glitter) in her pouch was going to be used for a prank. I'm almost disappointed I didn't see it in action! XD THey had a master plan!

I did notice there are a lot of not only names (duh there are a lot of names) but nicknames for those names as well. Hopefully, I don't get too mixed up as we get into the story. Ember is Eugenia (this ALONE presents so much personality to her character XD) and Raz is Cassius, I think? And Of course, Isadora is Belle.

It is interesting that Mishal would think that if Margaretta wanted the kids to know, she'd have made sure they did. It's interesting because that isn't the norm in my eyes. It didn't seem like secretive informatoin, and as he said, Margaretta didn't say it was; so the fact that Mishal is still keeping quiet about it due to uncertainty is interesting to me and probably says a lot about his character. I wonder if he's perhaps the cautious type; he certainly seems like someone who abides by the rules and ensures he does things right.

Okay, now I also have to address Rowan. They already seem like such an intriguing character (aLSO FAMILIAR) and because of it, I'm super excited about what they could have in store for us. On that note, it's a similar intrigue that I have about Alanna. All these kids, in fact, are just so unique and wonderful and I hope we see so much more to them. They all seem like they could potentially play a part in a grand adventure!

Overall, this was a fun introduction to these new characters. I look forward to the next segment where we can potentially get to know them even more and see how Mishal handles them/the news!




mellifera says...


UH. UH. ALANNA? WHY ALANNA? Because she's young or is sHE SPECIAL?? WHY ALANNA?


because she's isadora's sister lol sORRY THAT WASN'T CLEAR


you got all the nicknames right! honestly idk how much they'll be used (except for ember and rowan's!! they'll probably be used a lot, especially as ember doesn't like to be called her given name!!) I just wanted some Fun Character Stuff

also ahhh I'm so glad you're picking stuff up about Mishal's character I was definitely thinking about that as I was writing!!

thank you so much for your review as always you're the bestest! <3



JabberHut says...


Oh shoot, I forgot that. That's just my bad for forgetting because you've made that clear in previous segments. Derp!

Also, I LOVE Fun Character Stuff! Totally all for it! It's a good sign that I'm keeping them all straight already. :D




Every really new idea looks crazy at first.
— Alfred North Whitehead