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Children with Stars in their Veins (Chapter 19.1)

by mellifera


Ember was out of bed the moment she was roused by the deafening ring of the warning bells.

Yesterday’s clothes had been haphazardly strewn onto the chair next to her bed. Her laziness had been useful. She slipped on trousers, a simple shirt, and a leathery vest. Her heart was stuttering in her chest from the rude awakening.

It was night. It was too dark to see the stars from her window and shadows dripped across her room. They had never done any drills with the warning bells in the middle of the night. But what would be that would be so bad?

She stepped out into the main living space, where her parents were gathering. They looked confused and worried. Not a drill.

Something was wrong.

And then the warning bells stopped, only trailing off with a faint echo.

“What’s going on?” she said, any traces of sleep shaken anyway by the intensity in the air.

“I don’t know,” Mum said. She gestured her closer and nudged her gently towards Mama. “You two stay here, I’ll go see what the problem is.”

She allowed Mama to place her hands on her shoulders for comfort, but then immediately ducking and leapt out of reach. “No way! I want to know what’s happening!”

The door swung open and slammed against the wall. Three figures poured into the room, clad in monotonous grey attire and masks that covered their faces. One held a sword, one a dagger, and the last held nothing but a vial secured in brass to keep the glass protected.

Mama lunged towards her and grabbed her, pulling her back. Mum stepped forward, grabbing a fire poker lying nearby, and positioned herself between them and the figures.

The figure in front, the one holding the sword, stepped forward. His position was relaxed, but he wasn’t unprepared for an attack. “Give up the girl and this will remain peaceful.”

“Touch her and you’re dead,” Mum said, and then spat upon the floor in front of the figure.

She eyed her surroundings. She had always thought of bringing one of Laska’s old, beat up hammers back but never had, and now she wished she had followed through. If she could get to the kitchen, there were knives. But knives against a sword? Maybe she should have spent more time with Mishal and his stupid swords.

The figure with the knife began to shift away, moving around the room. They were going to flank Mum. She had to—

“The girl, and nobody will be harmed,” said the sword-wielder, firmer this time. “We aren’t here to hurt anyone. Give her up.” Then, shifting forward with sword poised, said, “She was never yours anyway.”

Mum swung at the figure and the clash of metal rattled through the walls, hissing like a viper.

“Mum!” she cried. She tried to rush to her mum’s aid, but Mama was there to catch her, tugging her back and shoving her towards the master bedroom.

“Em, look at me.” Mama put her hands on either side of her face. “The locked drawer on my desk, you know where the key is. There’s a rolled-up piece of leather with a note for you. We knew we’d have to tell you someday, but you need it.” Her grip tightened almost painfully. “You take that letter and the moment you have an opening, you run.”

The clatter of metal against metal and the thud as the one wielding the dagger hit the wall filled her ears, but she couldn’t look away. “I’m not leaving,” she said.

Her mama grabbed her shoulders. “Ember, I love you more than anything, you know that? Listen to me this time!”

The figures were between them and the door, and in the hall, she could hear more activity and a blur of grey. The others!

“I need you safe, baby, I need you away from here,” Mama said. Then she pulled away and ran for the kitchen. For the knives. She was going to help Mum.

The figure with the potion was watching her and began to advance. Ember turned, chest seizing tightly, and ran into the master bedroom. She slammed the door shut and grabbed the nearest chair, shoving it under the door handle. The door shook from impact as the grey masked figure tried to break in.

She went for the key hidden in the mattress and then for the drawer. The rolled leather scroll was small, only the size of her hand from the heel of her palm to her fingertips. She shoved it in the pocket of her vest. The door shuddered.

In the few times she had practised magic, it always went wrong. Whenever she asked, the only thing she was able to produce was a fire that was nearly blinding.

She approached the door, heart pounding like a hammer against an anvil. Then she kicked aside the chair and let the door fly open.

The grey-clad figure stumbled into the room and she reached for their arm, grabbing them mid-fall. She snarled like she’d seen Lore do whenever the cat felt threatened.

Adolebitque,” she spat, and her hands caught fire.

The figure yelped in surprise and shoved her away, staggering backwards as their clothes caught on fire. The flames curled from her hands, flickering in her palms, and she had half a mind to rush over and shove them against his face.

She closed her fists instead and the fire went out. As the figure began to swat at the brilliant flame to put it out before it spread, someone screamed.


She jerked her head in the direction the scream had come from, and her pulse stuttered. Without sparing the burning figure another look, she bolted out the door and towards the hall.

There were grey figures crowding in the opened doors of each of the living quarters, but at the end of the hall was one retreating. The mask was partially pulled back, revealing a scarred lip and the beginnings of stubble.

In his arms, clad only in a warm cotton nightdress, Alanna kicking and wriggling like a caught wolf. His hand covered her mouth, but her shrieks were only muffled, not silenced. Her cheeks were coated in tears.

“HEY!” she screamed. “LET HER GO!” And, as the man glanced up at her through the soulless black eye panels in his mask, charged towards them.

Before she reached them, she saw a flicker of movement, like a shadow.

Excaecant oculos,” someone said, almost drowned out by the ringing of metal, Alanna’s muffled screams, and the general chaos.

A light flashed in front of the man’s mask, blinding and almost instantaneous. In his surprise, the man let go of the uncontrollable Alanna. She staggered, recovered, and leapt forward towards Ember.

She grabbed Alanna and held her tight to her side as the man reached up to clutch at his eyes. As he shifted forward with the motion, he revealed behind him Rowan, whose eyes were a solid jade and the faint shimmer of blue rushing down their dark hair. Beside him, Cassius, who was gripping a dagger in a white-knuckle hold.

Rowan’s eyes faded slowly back to normal and they gestured to them. “C’mon you two, we have to go!”

Alanna twisted in her grip and tried to wriggle away. When she caught Alanna’s midsection, the girl howled. “MUM! DAD!”

She tugged Alanna towards Rowan and Cassius. “What’s going on?” she asked, as Rowan ushered them further into the dark hallways and away from the activity. Alanna continued to scream.

“They’re here for us,” they said. “I don’t know why.”

“What about our parents?” she pressed as she and Rowan wrestled Alanna towards the stairwell.

Rowan’s brows furrowed. “They’ll figure it out. The grey masks aren’t here for them.”

word count:


Adolebitque = Burn

Excaecant oculos = Blind the eyes

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489 Reviews

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Sun Apr 26, 2020 10:43 pm
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Holysocks wrote a review...

Hello! I have to admit now that this was really well written, and that being aid, I'm struggling to think of things to critique!

Not too many chapter 19's make me want to go all the way to the beginning and figure out what the story is all about, but this one certainly did! I'm super intrigued by of course the magic, and then just this whole scene with all the adrenaline of getting woken up by an warning alarm and then the whole "there's something you need to know that we've been waiting for forever to tell you" and it all mixes together and makes me VERY CURIOUS.

It was night. It was too dark to see the stars from her window and shadows dripped across her room.

So there's a couple things with this bit I noticed! First of all, I feel like "it was night" was a tad irrelevant to mention, since the sentence goes onto to talk about it being too dark and stars and all that. And then the line "it was too dark to see the stars from her window"-- I just feel like, darkness definitely actually helps you to see the stars clearer, so this part didn't make much sense to me. Unless it's because it was really overcast out, therefor blocking the stars? But that's not because of the dark, that's because of the clouds being in the way. The last thing about this bit isss if it's so dark, howwww are there shadows? (I LOVE the imagery of that line by the way, but it just doesn't quite make sense to me given the circumstance).

The other thing I wanted to mention, is that there were times that I was a TAD confused as to what was happening. Honestly, I think that's just sometimes the nature of action scenes, and coupled with the fact that I jumped in randomly, it's probably nothing to do with your writing. But just in case, I thought I'd mention it.

Something else I thought I'd mention- though it's not a huge deal, it's just my own thoughts: when the mother calls the daughter "baby". I don't know, I just get the sense that this is a teenager and I don't think I've ever been called "baby" by my mum or heard someone else call their kids that-- unless they're really young. But, I mean, my mum DOES have really child-ish nicknames for me that she STILL calls me, so I guess it's not that far out there. And I guess people do say odd things in strange situations, too. I just thought I'd mention it, cause "baby" just seems like an odd kind of pet-name for a mother to say to her daughter. (then again, I also think "baby" is an odd pet-name for couples to say to one another, so I MIGHT be a tad biased).

Anyway, I hope you keep it up-- and it's so awesome you've managed to come so far in your novel!! So envious of writer's who make it passed chapter 3!! Keep it up!

mellifera says...

thank you for your review!! it's greatly appreciated <3

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Sun Apr 26, 2020 10:30 pm
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ShadowVyper wrote a review...


This work is officially the oldest in the Green Room, at this very moment. Do you know what that means? Ayup, Shady here for a Review Day review, courtesy of the Slytherins. Let's get started...

Ember was out of bed the moment she was roused by the deafening ring of the warning bells.

Exciting start! I am just now jumping into the story, and am already interested to know what happens next! (Also, your blurb for this, getting serious 'Rona vibes from it lol)

But what would be that would be so bad?

I don't quite understand what's going on in this sentence?

~ ~ ~

Oh my goodness! I don't think I breathed this entire chapter! Wowza! I always forget how much I adore your writing until I read it again and have the moment of OH MY GOODNESS like I had with this chapter.

Your pacing is seriously on point. I don't know any of these characters -- I have no reason to be rooting for either side, yet. For all, I know Ember and Alanna are terrible and deserve to die. And yet, the way you wrote this, I was fully Team Ember the entire chapter. I am so INTRIGUED. I want to know what the heck is going on and who the masked men are provided it's not the WHO, because, you know, that bio and what's going to happen. It's so exciting!

You also ended this with such a cliffhanger. My goodness. I saw you had a few more chapters of this in the green room so I was already planning on going on for another review, but this just cinched it. I can't /not/ know what happens next, now can I? I NEED TO KNOW WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME?


~Shady 8)

Oh yeah, schadenfreude and fahrvergnügen and all that Review Day Jazz.


mellifera says...

I don't quite understand what's going on in this sentence?

I think I meant "what would happen that would be so bad" but honestly who knows xD

your review was so sweet omg <3

thank you for both of your reviews!! <3 ily [also I promise I'll get to fleeting eternity very soon!!]

ShadowVyper says...

Ahah awesome <3 I got my second review for the latest chapter I posted this Review Day, so I guess now I've actually got to get my act together and figure out another chapter to post xD Looking forward to your reviews whenever they come <33

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Tue Mar 17, 2020 7:06 pm
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JabberHut wrote a review...

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I have no time to write this because I need to read the next paaaaaaaaaaart--

The pacing was AWESOME. I was at the edge of my seat reading the entire thing, and before I knew it, it was over. It was so exciting and scary and the emotions all came through so clearly.

I love that this is in Ember's PoV because I love her family and also because Ember is a Tough Cookie. She's got a lot of spunk, a lot of fight in her, and is very protective of her friends and family. (Also, Ember's PoV just flows perfectly well after how last chapter ended.)

I mentioned this before, but I just LOVE the dynamic of Ember's parents. They are each their own character, and it very obviously works out as a loving and balanced family unit. I did get mixed up a lot with the pronouns overload. Since there are a lot of females in that scene, it was very easy to get confused as to who "she" was in several cases. (This happened briefly with Ember/Alanna later, but it was more pronounced here.) This also resulted in my getting lost as to where Ember was currently standing, where Mama was (I think Mama was the one that went to the kitchen, not Ember?), and things like that.


Also the timeliness of their arrival to help Ember and Alanna was perfect and just. just perfect.


I also fear about what might've happened to Alanna's parents 'cause we never even SEE them. ;_;



I'm going to read more. You will hear from me momentarily.

"I wish we could all get along like we used to in middle school... I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy..."
— Unnamed Girl from "Mean Girls"