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The Valen: Chapter 1.2

by Carina


After crawling through the tiny hole, colors that Mel did not expect embraced her: the blue sky littered with clouds sat on top of a lazy green forest and quiet orange town. Sky and trees—underground. She found herself gaping from the sight presented before her, and even squinted from the setting sun—an underground sun?—that glared down on her skin. They were on a cliff looking down onto a forest lined with small houses, which immediately sent chills down her spine from the nostalgia of leaving Sector 4 to come here. Farther out, the trees faded away into a small town with towering buildings and empty fields.

“Not what you expected?” the younger guard asked after following her in, smirking.

“No time to talk. Follow through,” the older guard said, standing next to a cleaner and sleeker elevator than the one they were in before. He pressed a button and sounded a soft ding along with the nearly silent door opening for them.

“Let’s go,” the younger man beckoned. “Your teacher is meeting you below.”

They step in together and descended, the calm music filling the empty conversation between them. The guards didn't seem to notice, but Mel was in awe of what she heard. Back in Sector 4, music could mainly be crafted by banging metal, shaking loose pebbles, or blowing through special wooden pieces. The sounds resurfacing from years of old memories were nothing like the cradling tune in the elevator, and instruments were not even around. She made a mental note to ask someone other than grumpy guards—perhaps the teacher he mentioned—to somehow borrow this stored, non-live music technology.

The elevator dinged and opened once more, and immediately a tall, middle-aged woman greeted her. “Melakae! Hello!” she said excitedly with wrinkles flaring up around her eyes as she smiled. As soon as Mel stepped out of the elevator, the woman gave her a tight hug then pulled out and nodded over to the guards.  “Thank you, Karl. Thank you, Oliver. I can take it from here.”

So that’s what their names were, Mel thought as she looked back to wave them goodbye, but they already disappeared in the elevator going up.

The woman kneeled to capture eye contact with Mel, locking her big blue eyes onto hers.

“You probably have so many questions!” she said. “My name is Jeanie. I will be your academic instructor until you turn sixteen.” She paused and looked at Mel closely, studying her. “My records say you are thirteen now. Is that correct?”

“I think so? That sounds right,” Mel said without confidence. Not having been born in the Capital meant not keeping records, but somehow, it seemed like Jeanie knew this.

“I was also told that this is your first time in Sector 3, and you don't have family here.” She took a brief pause. “My responsibility is to not only teach you, but look after you, too. Everyone in the Capital will be your family.” She stood back up and smiled. “Let me show you around.”

As they walk down a trail through the woods, Jeanie continued to drone on and on about the school. “I’ll take you to the school and introduce you to your group,” she said. “The academic classes are team-based learning, and we've divided the classes into groups. I've put you in Group 1 so now all three groups have five people.”

Although Jeanie continued to talk about her class setup, Mel completely drowned out her voice and focused on her surroundings instead. The trees stood tall and gently waved in the wind, and as Mel pushed back her hair blown by the breeze, she wondered... how was there even wind? So many unanswered questions buzzed through Mel’s thoughts. She had witnessed entering a dingy elevator and crawling through a wet and dirty underground tunnel to get here, but it was like she was outside again. How can there be sun and sky and trees and people here? Maybe they weren’t underground. But if they weren’t, something felt off. The sun may be shining, but Mel only felt light hitting her skin. She didn’t feel the warmth or—

“Do you have good control over it?” Jeanie asked, interrupting Mel’s thoughts. She had completely drowned out her voice to the point that she now had no idea what she was asking.

Well, it was a yes or no question. “...Yeeees,” Mel said after a hesitation, hoping she answered that right. She suspected that it was better to answer blindly rather than listen to whatever she had to say again.

It seemed like she answered right. “Good!” Jeanie exclaimed. “Vale awakens around puberty, so you’re not a late bloomer. But the boys in your group haven’t awakened theirs yet, so you have something to show off.”

She continued to ramble about vale in the classroom, but Mel found herself once again fading out her voice and watched how, with each step, the trees started to melt into a civilization. They passed several small abandoned-looking houses made from brick, and then they reached a gated area with a spread-out building behind it. Remembering her view from the cliff, Mel realized that they had just reached the end of the woods and have not yet entered the town.

“Here we are,” Jeanie said, opening the gate. “This is the school you'll be attending. Classes are out of session now, but your group is here to meet you.”

They both slink in and head towards the entrance of the school where a group of four students in school uniform waited. As they walked closer, Mel noticed that they were her age, and they whispered and snickered at each other when they saw her. When they were close enough, Mel noted the four people: blonde boy, glasses boy, messy-haired boy, and braided girl. 

“Group 1,” Jeanie called, “meet your new team member, Melakae.”

All four of them stared at her in awe, and Mel couldn’t help but wonder if it was because she looked so different in comparison to everyone else. She especially felt exposed with her darker complexion; the four of them stared at her like they had never seen someone who had darker skin than them. Except for the blonde boy, everyone she met so far had pearly skin and uniformly dark hair. It was as if they were never touched by the rays of the sun, even though Mel could feel the sun gently beating down on her now.

“Well,” Jeanie began, interrupting Mel’s thoughts and the group’s stares, “since your group is already here, I'm going to go ahead and get your bedroom ready.” She paused, giving Mel a long look. “And also get you fresh sets of clean clothes.”

“Melakae, huh?” the blonde boy said as Jeanie scurried away. “That’s a weird name.”

“Len!” scolded the boy with the glasses, elbowing him.

“What? I’m just saying. You can tell she’s from Sector 4.”

The messy-haired boy next to them leaned forward with his arms crossed, looking at Mel closely. “Is it true that you were raised by pulpas?” 

All three of them looked up to her again, awaiting her response. Mel blinked in the sudden change in attention from them to her. Suddenly the conversation moved so fast, she hardly processed it. “You can call me Mel,” she said instead.

It didn’t take long for them to respond back. “Oooh, sweet accent!” the blonde boy said with a grin. “But I think I like Melakae better. It sounds cooler. Oh, and I’m Len, by the way. So, how do you spell Melakae? Is it—”

“My name is Alan,” the boy with the glasses interrupted Len before he could continue on another tangent. “Sorry my friends are weird.” 

“So, Mel,” the messy-haired boy next to Alan said, skipping his own introduction, “were you raised by pulpas?”

Before Mel could respond, Alan rolled his eyes and gestured to the messy-haired boy, who was still leaning over and staring at Mel. “And this is my brother Alistair. Sorry he’s weird too.”

“Am not,” Alistair grumbled.

Len sneered. “Alan, you’re the weirdest one of us all. How many books do you read in a week? Like, who even reads books for fun?”

Mel watched the bickering between the three boys, awkwardly standing in front of them and wondering if she should say something. In the middle of their argument about who was the alpha male, she noticed the braided girl standing nearby who watched the boys in a daze and not contributing to their conversation. Mel immediately noticed how pretty she looked: her skin was fair but rosy, and her eyes stood out as a soft shade of a blue morning sky. Although she looked approachable, her facial expressions and lack of conversation seemed to suggest she was shy.

“Are all the boys like this?” Mel asked her, gathering her attention.

That seemed to snap her out of her train of thought. “Hm? Oh... no, it’s just these three that fight all the time.” She looked over at Mel and smiled sheepishly. “I’m Evaline, by the way. It’s nice to meet you.”


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Tue Aug 21, 2018 6:24 pm
elysian wrote a review...



hello I'm back and hungry for more <3

**disclaimer: I will most likely focus on negative aspects more so than positive aspects when reviewing, and this is just to help you grow as a writer! It is totally okay not to agree with something I say! Also, If I repeat anything already said, it's probably because it needs to be changed!**

So that’s what their names were, Mel thought as she looked back to wave them goodbye, but they already disappeared in the elevator going up.


i think there should be a comma after elevator.

“My records say you are thirteen now. Is that correct?”


AHA.

ugh I wish you would give me more to actually critique! I was intrigued this whole chapter and there's so much I want to know but I'm not mad you haven't answered yet if that makes sense? great job. just wow. I have nothing but love for this <3

sorry I can't be more help!

- del




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Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:44 pm
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PrincessInk wrote a review...



Carina!! Hello!

A nitpick I have is how you occasionally have present tense instead of past. Maybe watch out for them, but this isn't too important because this is, for heaven's sake, a first draft.

Ooh, so Mel's 13. I imagined her to be older and I'm not that sure why...maybe she feels quite calm in this situation as if she's quite grown up and has already experienced this sort of thing quite a bit? It's been quite a gap between my reading of 1.1 and 1.2, so it's entirely possible I'm just mixing things up.

And I am in wonder just like Mel is. How can there be a SUN underground? And trees? And a town? It's like there are several layers of sky and land in this universe :p Anyway, your description is so nicely done! I really love the way you mix in Mel's emotions and memories in them. That's the kind of description I like a lot. Also I am very curious to know how this all works. Does it have something to do with Mel's Vale?

And there are OTHERS with Vale. I'm looking forward to see Mel meet them (and maybe fall in love with one of them later on :P) I can totally get how Mel is overwhelmed by the "welcome", how they start talking to her and then start bickering with each other IMMEDIATELY. I'm not sure that makes a great impression on her and I'm looking forward to read her conversation with Evaline (also that is a fabulously elegant name).

One thing I liked was how they asked her those questions like "were you raised by pulpas?" It reminds of this scene in a novel called RIVER SECRETS where the main character is asked "Do you eat babies?" and "Do you have horns and a tail?". It reminds of how people of a nationality different from yours sometimes ask questions that sound a bit silly (though occasionally such questions perpetrate harmful ideas) And I like the way you showed personality with each of the 3 boys.

I don't have a lot more to say other than just an overall "great job", so I think I'll end here :D

-Ink




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Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:37 am
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soundofmind wrote a review...



*spongebob narrator voice* "One. Eternity. Later."

Hi Carina so guess who's super late but here to review ur awesome story? *points to self* THIS KID.

Okay so Carina I love this chapter and this might just be me gushing because I uh?? Love Mel?? So much?

They step in together and descended, the calm music filling the empty conversation between them.

AYYY NICE WE GOT SOME TUNES instead of TERRIBLE LOUD SCREECHING

...she said excitedly with wrinkles flaring up around her eyes as she smiled.

Okay this is probably just me but when you said wrinkles flaring up I thought of like, skin flaring up into a rash at first, and then the flaring of nostrils. None of which I associate with wrinkles, lol, but that's again, ME.

So that’s what their names were, Mel thought...

Mel is me. This is exactly what I was thinking lol.

The woman kneeled to capture eye contact with Mel, locking her big blue eyes onto hers.

This is........ uncomfortable. PROBABLY MOSTLY FOR ME because this is what my mom does all of the time except like imagine the making eye contact but also someone's face being just a little too close. Like borderline super-invasive of personal space. So I guess for me my brain just demands to know HOW CLOSE is the teacher in proximity to Mel but that's probably just my issues FLARING ayyyy up hhahahahAaaaa. But uh wow? Eye contact is uncomfortable and whenever an adult kneeled down just to make eye contact with me when I was little I thought one of two things: 1. This better be really important for you to make me this uncomfortable and 2. Why do u gotta look into my eyes tho bro.

But uhhh that's more just personal rambling omg I should stop.

The sun may be shining, but Mel only felt light hitting her skin. She didn’t feel the warmth or—

THAT'S BECAUSE IT'S FAKE MEL!!!!!!!!! But I really like how Mel just kinda spaces out and is thinking about the place because 1. it helps us visualize it more and 2. uhh I was wondering the exact same things and I'm glad Mel is thinking about it too.

They both slink in and head towards the entrance of the school where a group of four students in school uniform waited.

Oop uhhh for a sentence there u changed tenses aAaa

She paused, giving Mel a long look. “And also get you fresh sets of clean clothes.”

.... is she throwing shade? I feel like she's throwing shade...

Len sneered. “Alan, you’re the weirdest one of us all. How many books do you read in a week? Like, who even reads books for fun?”

Len...... Len u know nOTHING

Also okay so I really really love the dialogue exchange at the end. I love how it's super clear that these dudes have chemistry and they're friends and they chat and argue a lot. It's super natural for Mel to feel awkward apart from already being awkward already because NEW PEOPLE and NEW PLACE and everything is different. I'm super excited to see who she gets close to but I already have a feeling that Evaline is going to be a closer friend of hers?? Unless my gut is wrong, which is has been uhhh... a lot of times before. BUT YEAH OKAY I LOVED THIS CHAPTER And you did a great job setting the scene and creating the atmosphere and creating realistic interactions and conversations and it all felt really natural and enjoyable to read so GOOD JOB!! LUV U!! <3 I love M EL.




Carina says...


WHOOPS SORRY I ALSO TOOK AN ETERNITY TO RESPONSE BACK

(also to review the lost dragon askdjfhlksjdfh I WILL CATCH UP.....SOON)

but sound
ur reviews give me LIFE

thank you thank u thnk u thx u ty FOR BRINGING UP GR8 POINTS, whether it be about stuff you agreed with/liked or tense changes or things i could improve!!! AND THE COMMENTS LOL

tbh I'm also trying to figure out who will be the closest to Mel in these chapters <_> I know who she'll be rlly close to when they're older, but not when she's still growing up. buuUUUUT ur right on the money with Evaline because lol I figured since they're still young, they still discriminate against boys??? LOL yeah I'll probably go w that

I'M SO HAPPY U LOVE MEL AHHHHHH



soundofmind says...


DUDE <3 <3 <3 NO WORRIES ily and i'm happy u like,, my gOOFY reviews haaaaa

ALSO LOL kids discriminating against boys :,) poor boys never had a chance



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Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:00 pm
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StellaThomas wrote a review...



Hey @Carina! Thanks for the ping, sorry it took me a few days!

To be honest, I loved this and most of my criticisms are things like, you could mention this now, but it'll probably come later in the story. So as such I'm going to tell you a set of questions now that you don't need to answer in this section, but have piqued my interest, and that I'd be expecting answers for later:

1) is there anything to suggest that the Sector 3 environment is fake? Any glitching, anything that's too hyper-realistic, anything about the colours or the textures or anything? Or does it really all, honest to god seem real? Is it really real? I'm looking forward to figuring this out.

2) If Sector 3 is the capital, what are sectors 1&2?

3) I was assuming at this point that Mel got brought here because of her vale, and that her teaching would all be about trying to use it. As such, I'm surprised that the boys in the group haven't got theirs yet. I like the detail because girls do hit puberty earlier and it's not something we often think about, but I'm just surprised that they were in the group. Maybe I'm missing the point of the group!

My only vague concern is that I'm going to get the names Len, Alan and Alistair mixed up but this is coming from a girl who has an Astrid, Alicia, Antonia and Ambrose so you know what? I'll manage!

Mainly, I'm intrigued, I'm excited to see what happens next and this part really added to the mystery you built in part one, so I'm intrigued to see where it goes next!

I have one line edit for you:

Although she looked approachable, her facial expressions and lack of conversation seemed to suggest she was shy.


This seems awkward and something you could get across better with body language. Bashful smile? Avoiding eye contact? Sitting a little bit a way from the group? You can do it!

I'm sorry that this was an unhelpful review xD but good job!




Carina says...


!!!! this is actually really helpful!!! my answers:

1) THIS IS A VERY CURIOUS THOUGHT, and one I did not even think thoroughly about lol. Well, in the future chapters (as you can tell, I'm going reeeeeally slow lol), I'm going to exaggerate the environment so Mel can tell it's fake since she, ya know, knows what the outside world is like. Your comment about possible 'glitching' is interesting, and one I'm probably going to incorporate (subtlety) in the future!

2) SEKRETS. Well, kinda. So far I've only mentioned Sector 3 (where they are right now) and Sector 4 (where Mel is from), but I will say that every sector has a capital, and Mel isn't from the Sector 4 Capital because...well, the rumors Alistair has heard is a hint to why that is. :P

3) Good point about grouping!! When Chapter 2 comes around, you'll see why they have groups. Jeanie mentioned that her class is team-based learning, and she also said that she's the academic instructor until Mel turns 16. A very not-so-obvious-but-still-kinda-ish-spoiler: nearly everyone in the class would have already awakened their vale after turning 16, and so they will then move on to a vale instructor (not Jeanie). It's not so obvious now, but they've been in the same group since they were little kids, so they're all growing up together and learning together. And now Mel is included, yaaaay


The one line edit you mentioned was actually the line I was thinking about scrapping too! so I'm glad to get another opinion on that. Also, about the names -- I purposely chose names that have same sounds to them because they're all "Sector 3" names, similar to how there are English names and Asian names. Before LMS started, I had a crisis on trying to make Mel's name sound more foreign, but people in the write-in told me Melakae is foreign enough. NOW I'M REALIZING THERE'S AN L IN THERE AND ALL THE NAMES HAVE L'S NOW AHHHHHHHHHH ok i'm done lol sorry this got so long >.>

THANK YOU FOR THIS FABULOUS REVIEW THO, U DA BOMB <33



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Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:12 pm
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TheBlueCat says...



Yay much love + want 2 read moar plz thnks <3
maybe someday i will remember how to review xD




Carina says...


LOL i r8 this comment 8/8
much lahv <3



TheBlueCat says...


lel <4



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Sun Jul 15, 2018 2:45 am
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Clairia wrote a review...



Hi, 'reena! Arden here to leave a review.
(I find it easier to analyze pieces from top to bottom in order to get everything on the table more efficiently, so let's do that!)

After crawling through the tiny hole, colors that Mel did not expect embraced her: the blue sky littered with clouds sat on top of a lazy green forest and quiet orange town.

I enjoyed this use of imagery. A good start to the chapter, it made me feel warm.

Sky and trees—underground. She found herself gaping from the sight presented before her, and even squinted from the setting sun—an underground sun?

This caught my attention quickly. What an interesting proposal; the world turned "upside down" in a way, having all its beauty brought underground. This line seemed to be a hook, and from here I was interested to read more.

“Not what you expected?” the younger guard asked after following her in, smirking.

“No time to talk. Follow through,” the older guard said, standing next to a cleaner and sleeker elevator than the one they were in before.

I would have liked a reaction from Mel in between the dialogue here to the first guard's question. It seems she never was given a chance to respond. I would suggest editing that just a bit.

The sounds resurfacing from years of old memories were nothing like the cradling tune in the elevator, and instruments were not even around. She made a mental note to ask someone other than grumpy guards—perhaps the teacher he mentioned—to somehow borrow this stored, non-live music technology.

This was a rather sweet/mysterious insight to her past that satisfied me.

...she said excitedly with wrinkles flaring up around her eyes as she smiled.

There should be a comma after "excitedly".

“I’ll take you to the school and introduce you to your group,” she said. “The academic classes are team-based learning, and we've divided the classes into groups. I've put you in Group 1 so now all three groups have five people.”

You've used "groups" a lot here. I'd suggest using some synonyms. (Here are a few examples!)
-crowd
-company
-party

The sun may be shining, but Mel only felt light hitting her skin. She didn’t feel the warmth or—

This caught my eye-it was an interesting statement. Made me think.

“My name is Alan,” the boy with the glasses interrupted Len before he could continue on another tangent. “Sorry my friends are weird.”

There should be a comma after "sorry".

“Alan, you’re the weirdest one of us all. How many books do you read in a week? Like, who even reads books for fun?”

I do! (pf)

Mel immediately noticed how pretty she looked: her skin was fair but rosy, and her eyes stood out as a soft shade of a blue morning sky. Although she looked approachable, her facial expressions and lack of conversation seemed to suggest she was shy.

Well done in terms of description. Enjoyed this introduction to the character.

Overall, well done! I really liked this chapter. It was lacking description/details in some places, but that description thrived in other parts. I look forward to reading more!

Thanks for sharing,

Arden




Carina says...


<333 THANK YOU THANK YOU FOR THE REVIEW <333millionharts

In the last chapter, I was grilled on using the word "very" and "narrow" a lot, and honestly, I didn't even realize it until it was brought up. Likewise, I didn't realize how often I used "group" in the blurb you mentioned. Do let me know if I make more of these repeated words; it's v helpful insight for if/when I edit this!!!

Also, would love to know in the future specific places you think I'm lacking detail so I know where I'd need to improve. I AM WEARING A LEVEL 9000 ARMOR FOR CRITIQUE, SO HIT ME UP

tyty again reens, your reviews are fab <3



Clairia says...


aw tHAnk U iLY <333

Also goshdarn I should have been more specific! I%u2019ll definitely keep that in mind 4 the future (& PLS ping me 4 da next chapter bc i really like what I%u2019ve read!!)



Clairia says...


the frikin %u201C %u2018 %u201Cs turn into %u2019 uGg



Clairia says...


I CANT EVEN SPEAK LOL



Carina says...


YES YES OFC OFC

R U SPEAKING IN ROBOT CUZ I WANT IN



Clairia says...


JUST PUT AN APOSTROPHE LITERALLY ANYQHERE AND IT TURNS INTO FRIGGIN %u2018 %u2018 %u2018 %u2018 %u2018 %u2018



Carina says...


LMAOOOO WHAT EVEN

ARE YOU ON YOUR PHONE. BECAUSE THAT HAPPENED TO ME TOO SO I DISABLED THE 'SMART APOSTROPHES' THINGER ALL SO I WOULDN'T LOOK ST00PD ON YWS



Clairia says...


OH YES I%u2019M ON MY PHONE HOW DO I DISABLE IT SKKSK



Carina says...


OK GUIDE TIME IN A REVIEW LOL
i'm assuming u have a iphone, so go to your settings and then under keyboard. disable the "smart punctuation" and BAM NO MORE %u2018'ers



Clairia says...


I'M TESTING IT OUT



Clairia says...


OMG IT WORKED LOLOLOL



Carina says...


LOLOLOLOL

CONSIDER THIS MY THANK U PRESENT FOR REVIEWING



Clairia says...


AW <333 THANK U AND I'M HAPPY TO REVIEW 4 U ANYTIME




When you cut pieces out of the truth to avoid looking like a fool, you end up looking like a moron instead.
— Robin Hobb