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Children with Stars in their Veins (Chapter 29.1)

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

*

[Ember]



Ember, I love you more than anything, you know that?

She stared at the back of Enoch’s boots. All this time, her parents had known. The argument they’d had that day when she had asked about the truebloods. They had known. Truebloods are the heirs to their thrones. That made her a princess. It made them all royalty.

More than anything else, she hoped her parents were safe.

She had started the second fire. When they had turned back to look at the Citadel, it wasn’t just the blue of magefire. It was hers to, the unnatural golden flames licking at those stones. But everything Professor Coquelin said— Why did she always—

There was a dead twig on the road, and as they plodded along, she kicked it. It clattered off the path and she scowled at it. Cassius shot her a look, but even his expression was shuttered and dull.

“Now you’re all so bloody quiet,” Enoch said, glancing back over his shoulder towards them. His stern features were set in a frown. “Ravens pick out your tongues?” He looked so severe and yet, in that moment, she almost swore she noticed concern.

Ugh, it was probably her imagination. No kidnapper felt sympathetic about the kids he’d grabbed and tied up. That would be stupid.

She turned her scowl unto him. “I thought you wanted the quiet.”

Enoch grimaced. “Now it’s creepy. I might as well be lugging giant dolls with me.”

Artemesa chirped from her stance beside Cassius, but otherwise was preoccupied with nudging his palms. She had already heard him mutter several times, “I don’t have food for you, Mesa.” But Artemesa was persistent.

At least one of them had energy and drive for something. Stars above, she hoped Artemesa wouldn’t starve. The poor thing had already been through enough.

When he received no response, save from the dragonling, Enoch grunted and turned back away.

As soon as he had, she stuck out her tongue at him.

Her legs ached and there was a persistent stitch in her side that had become her constant companion. She was exhausted and she wanted to rest, but when Cassius had tried to complain once, Enoch had merely tugged at their rope and said nothing.

What about home, and their parents? What about the expedition? What was going on with Mishal and Isadora? Were they okay?

She didn’t know how long had passed, only that the sun was behind darkening clouds and she was relieved for the respite—she and Cassius were both now victims of the sun’s irritable eye and there were red splotches of burn on both their cheeks, though thankfully their disgusting clothes protected most of their skin despite the foul heat that it brought upon them. She missed changing clothes.

Artemesa halted and her ears began to swivel around like a startled horse’s. Cassius stopped with her, which yanked on Enoch’s cord. He turned with an opened mouth, and then stopped at the sight of Artemesa’s head wheeling backwards, nostrils flaring now in tandem with her ears. Everyone else had come to a halt as well.

“What the devil’s she doing?” Enoch asked, gesturing with a large, calloused hand to Artemesa.

“Mesa?” Cassius asked.

Artemesa swung her head back around and pressed her snout into Cassius’ palm, and began to trill low in her throat. It sounded like a warning.

As everyone grew quiet, the sound of hoofbeats in the distance began to rise gradually in volume.

She turned to Enoch and held out her hands. “You ought to take the ropes off, or whoever is coming will be suspicious,” she said.

He eyed her, nose wrinkled in a sneer. “Not if they’re bandits or highwaymen. I reckon they’d try to steal you then, and cold stars above, I would not fight them for the lot of you.”

“What if they’re not?” Rowan asked, eyes glittering and hard. “What if they’re just regular people?”

Enoch gave him a disgruntled look. “Why, so you four can run off?”

She glanced down at her hands. What was the point? They’d nearly died on their own, and the Citadel had burned. There were people looking for them. She was never yours anyway.

“No.” She met the full weight of Enoch’s gaze and didn’t shrink away. “I’d swear on it. I’d swear on the Twin Eyes and the Sky Mother. I’d swear on anything.”

The rest were now watching her with both curiosity and confusion. Enoch’s expression had mellowed into an almost concealed surprise.

“You don’t seem the religious sort,” Enoch said, cautious.

“I’m not,” she said. “But I know someone who is, and I think she’s just about the finest person, and I believe her.” She felt some of her guard chipping away, and she couldn’t stop her shoulders from slumping miserably. “Please.”

The hoofbeats were louder now. Enoch glanced at the others, who all, in mute agreement, nodded.

He exhaled deeply and pulled out a dagger—the one he’d threatened Cassius with—and approached her. In a few quick sawing motions, the rope fell away from her wrists. The skin beneath was chaffed and red, but the groove marks weren’t deep. She flexed her hands and rolled her wrists.

Then she tried to catch Enoch’s eye, but he was already moving on to the others, gaze downcast and expression unreadable.

As soon as Enoch cut the rope from Artemesa’s neck, Cassius waved his hands towards her. “Go hide somewhere,” he told her. “Be safe.”

“Now you wait—” Enoch started, but Artemesa was already bounding away like a frightened deer, little fledging wings kiting out at her sides as she disappeared into the long grass of a meadow spread out to the side of the road. Ember watched the waving grass that marked her path but, after a moment, it stilled, and the grass only moved in the shallow breeze washing over them.

Cassius levelled Enoch was an innocent glance, as though to say who, me? “Did you really want someone to question what she was doing here?”

Enoch growled, but the hoofbeats were thunderous now. When she turned, the lines of the riders approaching grew on the horizon.



word count:

1,030




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Sun Jun 21, 2020 12:02 pm
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HarryHardy wrote a review...



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

Marching on towards the end.

First Impression: This kidnapper continues to be a little strange. And it looks like they are finally going to be spotted by somebody.

She stared at the back of Enoch’s boots. All this time, her parents had known. The argument they’d had that day when she had asked about the truebloods. They had known. Truebloods are the heirs to their thrones. That made her a princess. It made them all royalty.


Perfectly summarizes this whole piece of information that was revealed to them.

More than anything else, she hoped her parents were safe.

Artemesa chirped from her stance beside Cassius, but otherwise was preoccupied with nudging his palms. She had already heard him mutter several times, “I don’t have food for you, Mesa.” But Artemesa was persistent.


I thought they were being well fed. Why couldn't they get some food for Artemesa?

Her legs ached and there was a persistent stitch in her side that had become her constant companion. She was exhausted and she wanted to rest, but when Cassius had tried to complain once, Enoch had merely tugged at their rope and said nothing.


So this guy didn't take a rest himself either?

She turned to Enoch and held out her hands. “You ought to take the ropes off, or whoever is coming will be suspicious,” she said.

He eyed her, nose wrinkled in a sneer. “Not if they’re bandits or highwaymen. I reckon they’d try to steal you then, and cold stars above, I would not fight them for the lot of you.”


So there must be some kind of trade for people going on with these bandits also getting on in it.

Enoch gave him a disgruntled look. “Why, so you four can run off?”


Can't he see that he would be worse off if they ran into regular people.

The rest were now watching her with both curiosity and confusion. Enoch’s expression had mellowed into an almost concealed surprise.

“You don’t seem the religious sort,” Enoch said, cautious.


Why would this be so surprising to Enoch?

He exhaled deeply and pulled out a dagger—the one he’d threatened Cassius with—and approached her. In a few quick sawing motions, the rope fell away from her wrists. The skin beneath was chaffed and red, but the groove marks weren’t deep. She flexed her hands and rolled her wrists.


Good description.

As soon as Enoch cut the rope from Artemesa’s neck, Cassius waved his hands towards her. “Go hide somewhere,” he told her. “Be safe.”

“Now you wait—” Enoch started, but Artemesa was already bounding away like a frightened deer, little fledging wings kiting out at her sides as she disappeared into the long grass of a meadow spread out to the side of the road. Ember watched the waving grass that marked her path but, after a moment, it stilled, and the grass only moved in the shallow breeze washing over them.

Cassius levelled Enoch was an innocent glance, as though to say who, me? “Did you really want someone to question what she was doing here?”

Enoch growled, but the hoofbeats were thunderous now. When she turned, the lines of the riders approaching grew on the horizon.


Good on Cassius to have the presence of mind to immediately think of that and a another great ending here with a neat cliffhanger to set things up. The question is whether they will get kidnapped by someone worse or will they be able to run away?

And that's it.

Overall: The chapter does a good job of building the tension to the next scene although Rowan and Alanna are a bit neglected. Also shows the effects of learning that life changing news pretty well.

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




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Sun May 31, 2020 12:28 am
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JabberHut wrote a review...



I love that the mood drastically changed after hearing the news. In fact, it makes even more sense that it's Ember who's behavior is so much different now. She's no longer sassypants while she's coming to grips with the truth she's just learned and how it all fits into the life she knows. I can't help but to feel so sorry for her and hope she figures things out alright. :(

I still question Enoch's, like, sense. They're already walking on the road with them all tied up, why does running horses change things? If he was worried about travelers seeing tied up children, he'd be walking along in the trees, not on the road. XD

But. Poor Ember. :(

The fact that she's like swearing she won't run off, that she's lost that kind of motivation at all, is just so disheartening. I'm surprised Rowan doesn't step in with some sense, but they're also pretty reserved so maybe that makes sense. I'd imagine they are also confused, but at least they're older and can think at least a little reasonably.

I love that Cassius just immediately tells Artemesa to hide without caring what Enoch has to say about it. This shows a certain amount of maturity coming from someone who's generally immature. But he's ensuring Artemesa survives whatever ordeal they're about to run into--

BTW IT'S TOTALLY THE TWO RIDERS, THOM AND ASDFJLAS I forget their names 'cause I delayed my reviews too long BUT IT'S TOTALLY THEM.

I did notice we didn't get much of Rowan or Alanna in this segment, but I think that'sr ather telling since this is Ember we're reading. It's just sad to see her so shutdown over the truth, and watching her digest this newfound information -- like DUDE the fact that at the very start of this chapter, she called them all royalty IS SO FREAKING HUGE. It really hit home what they just learned, and Ember's already acknowledging the truth, whether she can believe it or not, whether she knows waht that means or not.

omg enoch is gonna find out now isn't he I'M GOING TO GO READ IT NOW KBYE




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Mon May 25, 2020 11:27 pm
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JesseWrites wrote a review...



Hey Mellifera.

Artemesa halted and her ears began to swivel around like a startled horse’s.


Corrected to horse.

Okay, I haven't caught up on this. Please take no offense to my questionable attempts at figuring things out.

I must say that the title of this is so pleasing. I just really love it. I wonder how you came up with it 'cause it is aesthetic.

The names are also nice. I have a similar character named 'Cassius', so what a coincidence.

Now I'm rambling. Sorry. You have well-rounded characters, a good clue at description, and many chapters. That is farther than most I've seen.

No more errors, so yay.

Take care,
JesseWrites/Haley x





"We're just all nosy little busybodies."
— SirenCymbaline the Kiwi