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Chapter 16.2: Ilami

by Lightsong


Ilami stared at Seya’s hand and considered. From what she had observed about the interaction between female friends, it was normal for them to hold hands. Still, she didn’t have a girl friend before entering the academy – even Aleveri never held her friend – so she didn’t know how to react. She did know pulling back her hand would be rude, so she let it be. She looked up to Felaris.

‘I guess that’s it,’ Ilami said, rising. ‘I’ll keep in touch.’ For some reasons, she couldn’t wait to get out of the room. Perhaps the awkwardness she felt with Sensa was one of them.

When she reached the door, Felaris called her. Ilami turned.

‘My brother – don’t you know anything about him?’ she asked. Her voice was lower and a bit shaky. She didn’t look at Ilami and instead stared at the floor.

‘I – I don’t,’ Ilami said, her chest feeling like a weight was on it. ‘I don’t believe Alyosha has anything to do with his death, but – but I’m not close with my brother, so I don’t know for sure.’ She wanted to apologize, but she suspected Felaris had heard it many times and wouldn’t appreciate one coming from her. ‘We’ll solve this mystery, Felaris. And avenge Arafel.’ She didn’t know why she said the last part.

Felaris just nodded. Ilami left. The sadness radiating from Felaris at the end was too poignant for Ilami. She felt it strongly and didn’t like how it overwhelmed her. The sight of Zivil flashed in her mind, prompting her to shake her head. Deaths. They seemed to follow her as days passed – maybe they wouldn’t stop.

*

As she was about to reach her room, Mr. Haifei walked towards her. From another direction, Jaxin approached her as well. The sight of them both aroused her suspicion. Did she do something wrong in fighting class? Was Jaxin about to deliver a bad news to her? She couldn’t escape them, of course, but she preferred to meet Mr. Haifei instead of Jaxin. The latter’s presence made the air tasted bitter, what with his cold treatment towards her earlier.

When both of them were in front of her, Mr. Haifei spoke up. ‘Jaxin, I have an issue to discuss with Miss Ilami about her performance in my class. I hope I can borrow her for now.’

Smiling, Jaxin shook his head. ‘I’m afraid that is something I cannot allow, Mr. Haifei. Principal Venaria herself instructed me to bring Young Mistress to her. I’m sure you understand she doesn’t make requests easily unless they are of utmost importance.’

A dark shadow flashed across Mr. Haifei before he wore a smile with ease. ‘Of course. My discussion with her can wait.’ He turned to Ilami. ‘See me at my office after your meeting with Principal Venaria.’

A heavy boulder fell in Ilami’s stomach. She was expecting Mr. Haifei to take her with him, but you simply couldn’t refuse Mother’s will. After he left, she turned to Jaxin and immediately said, ‘Urgh.’ She folded her arms. ‘What do you - wait. What does Mother want from me?’

‘Her Ladyship thinks it’s time to properly attend to the trouble you have stirred in the Restricted Area,’ Jaxin said, maintaining his neutral expression and composed posture. ‘If you can follow me.’

As they walked to Mother’s office, Jaxin brought up an issue Ilami didn’t want to talk about. ‘I apologize for being somewhat harsh to you the other day,’ he said, with a voice still composed but had the quiet intensity to it.

What’s the point of apologizing if you’re going to do it again later? Ilami kept her silence. She really didn’t want to talk to him now.

Jaxin looked at her and whispered, ‘You have to understand I’m just following Her Ladyship’s order. What you have done in the Restricted Area could lead to your suspension - and even the status of being the principal’s daughter wouldn’t save you from it.’

If he wanted to talk about it, fine. ‘Look,’ she said, staring ahead of their way, ‘you can do whatever Mother tells you to do. It still doesn’t mean you’re being loyal to the right person. She asked me to kill someone, Jaxin! Why would you serve someone like that? And you know what kind of books the Restricted Area has. It seems to me the academy has an interest on experimenting innocent people and let the failed ones to die. Like what happened with Dayel and Arafel.’

Hearing the names, Jaxin’s stare sharpened. ‘You believe the rumors.’

‘I think their deaths are more than some accidents,’ Ilami said, pleased with how on-guard Jaxin looked. She wanted to tell him she would still continue to find out the exact nature of their deaths, but she stopped herself. In this academy, Jaxin wasn’t her friend. He was, first and foremost, Mother’s servant. ‘If this continues, this place is going to have a very bad reputation.’

Jaxin turned his eyes forward to the door of Mother’s office. ‘Her Ladyship is going to solve this,’ he said, his composition back to normal. ‘She’s more than what you think she is. Here we are.’ He left her before she could say another word.

Ilami entered Mother’s office and saw Mother looking up to her. Mother wasn’t doing anything; she sat there expecting Ilami’s arrival.

‘What were you doing in the Restricted Area?’ Mother said as soon as Ilami took her seat. ‘You could have died in there!’

‘Why would you care?’ Ilami shot back. ‘I’ve killed Zivil for you; I’m expendable now. You don’t need to waste your time making me the perfect student in this academy. I don’t want any of it. This place is toxic enough as it is.’

‘Behave, child,’ Mother said. ‘You might not believe this, but I still care for you as a mother. The dead Seshier was instructed to guard the Restricted Area by all means, including killing any intruder. Do not make troubles you cannot handle.’

‘Do you want to speak about troubles?’ Ilami said, feeling her blood boiling. ‘How about Dayel? How about Arafel? Aren’t those the troubles you can’t handle? Do you know Arafel’s sister, Felaris, has a grudge on me? On Alyosha - heck, on our family as a whole? Why don’t you tell me Zivil, the man I was forced to kill, was Dayel’s father? Why - why do you put me in this hell?’

Pouring everything she felt on Mother was satisfying. And yet, she could sense her tears threatening to come at full force. When she wasn’t focused on solving the mystery of those deaths, she pondered about what she had done. Killing Zivil when he couldn’t harm her. Putting her friends at risk by infiltrating the Restricted Area, resulting one of them in the brink of death while the other unconscious for Natural knew how long. Felaris only agreed to help her because they shared the common goal. She suspected Felaris would go back to hating her once this matter was over. Gael wasn’t in his best state and the only way she could make sure of his safety was why by keeping him away from troubles. If she told Mother about all of these, could Mother understand? She doubted it.

‘Dayel’s and Arafel’s deaths are accidents,’ Mother said. ‘Felaris’s hatred on us is unfounded.’

‘Is it, really?’ Ilami said, forcing her tears to go away. ‘She’s a clever girl - one of the best Fighter students at my age. I don’t think she’s going to accuse Alyosha - a member of the famous XieZhi’s family - for her brother’s death for no reason.’

‘Felaris comes from the Ashav family and, like us XieZhis, is one of the Great Houses. We don’t want to have any grudge on her family and Alyosha is smart enough to know that.’

Knowing that doing something is bad doesn’t mean you won’t do it, Ilami thought. She knew it was useless to argue about this matter with Mother. From her observation, adults were all self-righteous - Jaxin was one, for example. ‘Is this why I’m here? For you to scold?’

Mother kept her silence for a few seconds before shaking her head. ‘No. I have something far important to talk you about.’ She reached for a few pieces of paper at the corner of the table and inspected them. ‘I have rearranged your extra fighting lessons. Instead of Gael, Mr. Haifei will be teaching you how to conjure spells of various functions. He has agreed with the payment for that. After my recent meeting with Gael, I don’t think the boy is suitable for the responsibility right now.’

‘But you weren’t asking me to learn from him just for the sake of learning,’ Ilami said, surprised with this news. ‘You wanted me to supervise him.’

Mother waved in dismissal. ‘I have taken care of that part. You do not need to worry about it. Just focus on your study and aim to be the best in the upcoming test. You can leave now.’

Ilami did that gladly. Still, she felt trouble with the new lesson schedule. Gael didn’t just teach her about spells - he was also part of the infiltration group. Mr. Haifei would complicate her investigation with Felaris and her friends. She wouldn’t have any reasonable excuse for him to skip some of the lessons. Also, what did Mother mean about the issue with checking on Gael? How was it solved? Ilami sighed, realizing more questions had started to pop up instead of answers. What a mess this academy was.


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Thu May 24, 2018 7:15 am
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Mea wrote a review...



Hey Lightsong! I'm finally here to review this.

Plot and character-wise, this was a really good chapter. It feels like we're getting deeper and deeper into the plot, and now that we're very familiar with Ilami's character, her reacting this way feels right.

The sight of Zivil flashed in her mind, prompting her to shake her head. Deaths. They seemed to follow her as days passed – maybe they wouldn’t stop.

I really liked this line. Ilami is tough, but it's good to see all this affecting her.

In particular, I really liked Ilami's confrontation with her mother. She's tired of all of this and angry, and you show it well. That being said, I definitely think Ilami's mother should push back against Ilami's accusations more. Although she isn't always quite who I expect her to be, which is a good thing, overall I really think she's not the type of person who would sit there and let her daughter yell at her. She'd be a lot more stern and try to shut Ilami's accusations down, possibly dismissing them as overreactions. I feel like she'd tell Ilami not to be so childish.

Aw, Jaxin. Why does he have to be so cold? :( Although he does seem to still care for her, and I'm glad about that. I hope in the end we'll either see that he does have good reasons for his loyalty, or he'll wind up actually helping Ilami. And I like how Ilami throws her suspicions in his face and enjoys his reaction - it's somewhat petty and defiant, but that's exactly how she'd react to a betrayal like this.

‘Felaris comes from the Ashav family and, like us XieZhis, is one of the Great Houses. We don’t want to have any grudge on her family and Alyosha is smart enough to know that.’

I didn't really understand what you meant here. Is Ilami's mother saying that Alyosha wouldn't have been involved in Arafel's death because he wouldn't have wanted to cause problems between the houses? But I thought she knew whether or not he was involved? I'm also not really sure in what way Arafel's death could have been an accident - I don't remember the circumstances surrounding it.

From her observation, adults were all self-righteous - Jaxin was one, for example.

I'm not quite sure what your intention was, but I don't think self-righteous is quite the right word in this context. It implies being more generally stuck-up, which includes being unwilling to listen to people but also other things that don't really fit and I don't think you were intending to apply. Maybe just say "adults were always convinced they were right" or something like that.

Overall, the biggest problem I had with the chapter was just grammar and awkward sentences, mostly involving prepositions, but Dark covered most of the confusing ones, I think. So I guess I'll leave it at that! Again, this really was a great chapter plot-wise and character-wise. Looking forward to the next!




Lightsong says...


Thanks for the review! I have Chapter 17 finished, do you think I should post it now?



Mea says...


Sure, I'll review it either today or tomorrow. Gotta start getting them when they're in the Green Room. :P



Lightsong says...


Well I guess I'll post it soon then. :D



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Wed May 16, 2018 12:59 pm
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Panikos wrote a review...



Hiya, Lightsong! Finally I can get round to reviewing this for you. As usual, small grammatical or phrasing corrections will be shown in blue.

Small Comments

Still, she didn’t have a girl friend before entering the academy – even Aleveri never held her friend – so she didn’t know how to react.


Assuming you meant 'hand' here? Even with the typo fixed, I still find the progression of the sentence a little bumpy. It doesn't feel like it develops along the right lines. If it was me, I'd go for something like:

'Still, Ilami's personal experience with girl friends was limited - she only had Aleveri, who always kept her hands to herself, so she didn't know how to react'

Obviously just a suggestion, as always, but I feel like this makes the point of the sentence a bit clearer.

For some reason, she couldn’t wait to get out of the room. Perhaps it was the awkwardness she felt with Sensa was one of them.


'For some reasons' is grammatically okay, but a bit odd to a native speaker. You typically see 'reason' used in the singular in that phrase.

The sight of Zivil flashed in her mind, prompting her to shake her head. Deaths. They seemed to follow her as days passed – maybe they wouldn’t stop.


Lovely end to the paragraph. Nice sentence variation and rhythm.

As she was about to reach her room, Mr. Haifei walked towards her. From another direction, Jaxin approached her as well.


Be more specific here. From where are Mr Haifei and Jaxin emerging? I'm having a hard time picturing the setting and the positioning of the characters relative to each other.

‘You have to understand I’m just following Her Ladyship’s orders.


It seems to me the academy has an interest in experimenting on innocent people and leaving the failed ones to die.


Ilami entered Mother’s office and saw Mother looking up to her. Mother wasn’t doing anything; she sat there expecting Ilami’s arrival.


There's a whole lot of Mother in this sentence. I'd swap a few out for pronouns, like this:

Ilami entered Mother's office and saw her look up at her. She wasn't doing anything; she was just sitting there expecting Ilami's arrival.

Do you know Arafel’s sister, Felaris, has a grudge on me? On Alyosha - heck, on our family as a whole?


1) 'Has a grudge on me' reads quite oddly. Typically you hold a grudge towards someone.

2) 'Heck' seems really out of place here. It's such a mild, almost comical exclamation, and it just feels really at odds with the rest of Ilami's vocabulary. She's usually very formal.

‘Felaris comes from the Ashav family and, like us XieZhis, belongs to one of the Great Houses.


Even with the grammar corrections, I find his line of dialogue too expository. It's like you're trying too hard to remind us of everyone's second names.

Overall Thoughts

1) So, there are some good notes of intrigue in this chapter, particularly towards the end. I'm still holding out that there's going to be more to the matter of Venaria and the Restricted Area - perhaps the whole thing isn't quite as clear cut as it seems to Ilami. I do think Ilami's mother is one of your more complex characters - or I at least have a hunch that she will be, given that she's shrouded in mystery at the moment.

I'm interested in why she's suddenly changed tack in regards to Gael. She was keen to have Ilami spy on supervise him, yet now she seems keen to keep them apart. I wonder why that is. Unless she simply just doesn't want them conspiring together anymore, though I do hope there's more to it than that.

2) You do lack subtlety in parts of the chapter, though. I felt that the moment with Sensa at the beginning was a bit heavy handed - though I'm somewhat sympathetic to that, because if there's one thing audiences are rubbish at picking up on, it's girls who are attracted to girls. Still, there's plenty of time to make it clearer, so don't feel like you have to be obvious from the outset. It just comes off like you're hammering the point home.

Same goes for the conversation with Venaria in the latter half of the chapter. Some of the dialogue just felt a bit...I don't know, obvious? It's quite hard to put into words, but it almost felt like the conversation was moulded around giving Ilami the excuse to rant. When she's shouting at her mother asking why she puts her in this hell and saying how toxic the academy is, it just didn't quite ring true for me. It reminds me of those fantasy conversations we all have in our heads, where we say exactly the right thing at the right time and everyone is rendered speechless. Except those conversations never happen in real life, because people interrupt and argue back and we get our words mixed up.

I'm probably explaining this horrendously. In summary, the conversation between Ilami and Venaria didn't feel real enough to me.

3) I definitely think your writing style is best suited to Ilami out of all of your characters. The narration is quite removed and formal, which can create problems sometimes, but it definitely echoes Ilami's measured, analytical perspective on the world. Even though the moment with Sensa was a bit on the nose, I liked seeing Ilami trying to puzzle out the meaning of it by considering how female friends typically behave and contrasting Sensa's behaviour to her relationship with Aleveri. That response felt really in-character for her.

That's about all I've got to say for this chapter. I'm keen to see some more action in regards to the Restricted Area, and I'm looking forward seeing how this partnership with Felaris pans (or doesn't pan) out. The next chapter is a Gael one, right? I'm glad of that, because I want to find out more about Serra as well.

Keep writing! :D
~Pan




Lightsong says...


That was fast! Thanks for the review. And yes, the next one is from Gael. :D



Panikos says...


I thought I owed it to you to be fast after such a long wait! Looking forward to the next one. :)



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Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:21 pm
elysian wrote a review...



Hey, here as requested! As I have not read any previous chapters, you might have to disregard some of my confusion haha.

Ilami stared at Seya’s hand and considered.


This is such a short, choppy sentence, and it's even more awkward because it's the first sentence. She considered what? How? When? this will finish that sentence.

When she reached the door, Felaris called her. Ilami turned.


this is also choppy, and very boring way to explain the events happening. Show, don't tell!

Felaris just nodded. Ilami left.


This one also, try combining them to help flow.

"Felaris just nodded and Ilami turned to leave."

I feel like as I continue reading I'm seeing a lot of sentences that are stylistically just saying, "first this, then that, next this, and then this happened, and then...etc." and It's a really boring way to write. Try changing the syntax, or combining sentences, and do more showing and not telling.

When both of them were in front of her, Mr. Haifei spoke up. ‘Jaxin, I have an issue to discuss with Miss Ilami about her performance in my class. I hope I can borrow her for now.’


There are a couple things wrong with this quote. First, before dialogue, if you have a lead into it, such as what you have here with "Mr. Haifei spoke up" then you put a comma after "up". Also, quotations are " two lines, instead of apostrophes which are ' one :-)

A dark shadow flashed across Mr. Haifei before he wore a smile with ease.


wait like an actual dark shadow? confusing...

If he wanted to talk about it, fine. ‘Look,’ she said, staring ahead of their way, ‘you can do whatever Mother tells you to do. It still doesn’t mean you’re being loyal to the right person. She asked me to kill someone, Jaxin! Why would you serve someone like that? And you know what kind of books the Restricted Area has. It seems to me the academy has an interest on experimenting innocent people and let the failed ones to die. Like what happened with Dayel and Arafel.’


This is very cool, and as someone who hasn't read anything before this makes me interested in the current conflict which is cool.

Putting her friends at risk by infiltrating the Restricted Area, resulting one of them in the brink of death while the other unconscious for Natural knew how long.


*on the brink

‘Felaris comes from the Ashav family and, like us XieZhis, is one of the Great Houses.


*and, like us, XieZhis

He has agreed with the payment for that.


*to the payment

Okay, I just finished and I'm very intrigued. Maybe I'll go back and read other chapters because I am very interested in this plot and the characters and I wonder how they all got here. Very good job! If you just incorporate those few fixes this will be close to perfection!

- Delonie




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Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:25 am
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fraey wrote a review...



Hey Lightsong! Thanks for requesting a review, and I hope this helps!

First Thoughts

Although I haven't read any of the chapters, this is a really interesting premise. Academy-based stories will never get old, and the magic weaved into this makes me excited too, since fantasy stuff is fascinating.

I like third-person a lot, especially in novels with multiple views, so I'm happy to see that in this story. And the narration from Ilami really drew me in, which is always a good introduction to a story.

And, that opening scene was really cute, with at least Ilami considering Seya’s actions.

Characters

So, I really like how you’ve written Ilami here. I’m guessing she’s late teens, her being in an academy, and I admire the personality you created in her.

One moment I’d like to talk about is this line:

‘We’ll solve this mystery, Felaris. And avenge Arafel.’ She didn’t know why she said the last part.


This got me a little amped up, as now I’m looking forward to the next scene with these characters, in addition to liking the show of regret in Ilami. However, I think there’s something here you can expand on to make this hold more sentiment as well.

Instead of “She didn’t know why,” you could connect the reason for saying that to your very next line of

Felaris just nodded. Ilami left. The sadness radiating from Felaris at the end was too poignant for Ilami. She felt it strongly and didn’t like how it overwhelmed her.


If you don’t want to connect these lines, that’s fine, but you have an opportunity here to really reel in your sentences and bring in your characters to the reader even more. For you could write in something basic like

She didn’t know why she said the last part.

But, Ilami realized, she did, actually. The words sprung from her mouth, much due to the poignant sadness radiating from Felaris.


You could do a much better job at that, but I just wanted to point that out if you were interested in editing later, or in that idea at all. Hope that made sense.

I don’t have much to say on the other characters, for I know them even less than Ilami, but I like the way you’ve created pretty decently rounded characters. The mom was interesting, and I liked how you lay in apparent pieces of the plot into the dialogue. I followed the conversation decently, I think, and I do feel like I understand at least a part of this story, even if I’m on chapter 16.2.

Content

As I had stated above, I really like how the characters interact, including how Ilami mentioned Felaris had grown as a person. Those are some neat little tidbits for the reader to check out, especially much later in a novel to think “sweet, character development.” Maybe one day I can actually read the rest of this story, so I can do that too. Eventually, at least.

Overall

I like this a lot. Your writing style does a good job at drawing the reader into the mind of the main character, and I like these characters a lot!

There were a couple of typos in here, but I’m not the best at grammar, so I’ll leave that to another reviewer XD.

I hope this helped, and I’m looking forward to more!

Kille





Once you have read a book you care about, some part of it is always with you.
— Louis L'Amour