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Children with Stars in their Veins (Chapter 2.1)

by mellifera


[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 twelve.”

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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Wed Oct 16, 2019 2:59 pm
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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




Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
— Mark Twain