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Violence

Children with Stars in their Veins (Chapter 29.2)

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

*

There were seven riders at most, and they slowed at they approached. One of them broke from the rest and led his horse right up in front of them, his companions following at a slower pace. He had dark hair contrasted by splashes of grey, and eyes that searched over their group with a hungry intensity. He barely spared Enoch a glance.

“Good sir!” the man cried and swung from his horse with a face-splitting grin. “Thank all that is good on this earth, but you’ve found our children!”

She stepped backwards, until she was right beside Enoch. For once, his presence was comforting, as her stomach twisted and wrung.

Enoch’s expression had hardened, but he stood unwavering. Alanna deliberately hid behind him, and Cassius stood on his other side. Rowan watched quietly nearby Ember.

“Is that so.” Enoch glanced down to meet her gaze.

As subtly as she could, she shook her head. I haven’t a clue who they are.

But what would it matter to him? Her heart pounded. He said he wouldn’t protect them, not if someone tried to get them. He could turn them over in a heartbeat.

“Yes!” The man beamed at Enoch, but his gaze quickly darted over all of them. He glanced back towards the others, and she saw one of his companions nod. He turned back and clapped his hands together. “We were separated several days past. We’ve been looking for them for days!”

Enoch folded his arms over his chest. He looked terribly imposing. The strange man’s smile even faltered a moment.

“How strange that is,” Enoch said. “Because these are my charges from Chromium. You must have them mistaken, good sir.” His lip twitched into a sneer. “I’m on orders from Queen Inga herself.” He placed his hand atop his sword, which he turned just enough so that the hilt, and the insignia, glinted in the dimmed light. Or at least, she was pretty sure it glinted.

She stared up at Enoch and his unmoving figure. Her heart halted, and then fluttered. He was protecting them. But he said—

The man took a step back, smile wavering, accompanied by what she swore was the sound of a puttering engine. “How strange indeed,” the man said. “Then I suppose the children accompanying you are not, in fact, Rowan, Cassius, Eugenia, and Alanna?”

She blinked, and then glanced towards the others as if someone would have an explanation for her.

Cassius was staring at one of the figures in the back, his face drained of colour. He was too far away for her to try to signal, and he wouldn’t look her way.

Enoch glanced down at them, and then back up at the man. “You would be correct. The two beside me are my children, Hyacinth and Ruby. The other two are orphans.” He scowled mightily then, and it reminded her of a lion. “You would accuse me of not knowing my own children?”

The stranger’s smile finally fell away and twisted into a snarl. “This is ridiculous. These are the children we are looking for.” He reached for the sheath at his side, which she only just noticed. “You have no idea the power they wield. It would be in your best interest to give them up.”

She stepped closer to Enoch, so close now that she was touching him. Now it would be easy for him to simply agree with this strange man and release them. And how did this man know their names? Who the hell was he?

Behind him, smoke rose on the horizon. An engine puttered again. She had heard it, it wasn’t her imagination.

Her heart did not cease to crawl into her throat.

Enoch’s hand did not leave his sword, and in fact, he drew it an inch from its scabbard. “Do I hear that you would so contentedly question a knight? Do you challenge me?”

The man glanced down at his sword this time and, unlike before, paled upon sight of the insignia. He met Enoch’s gaze for a moment, his face twisted in unbridled fury, before he too heard the puttering of the engine and turned around. His companions, all still mounted and all with hands twitching towards weapons, turned as well.

An old and crippled, nearly dysfunctional from the designs she’d seen in book before, steam-powered cart was puttering up the road. More noticeable than that however was the driver.

Even from the distance, the dark metal of armour was shining even despite the hidden sun. As they neared, Ember could make out the figure. A woman with skin dark as ebony wood and hair pulled back in a bun that rose over her hair rode at the front of the cart. She was tall and imposing.

She looked more like a knight than Enoch did.

But as she pulled the cart to a stop with a lever beside the bustle of activity, Ember squinted to see her sword. She was carrying a greatsword strapped to her back, and there was no special ornamental sigils to be seen.

The woman observed the scene, brow bent into a slight frown. “Is there a problem here?”

There was a moment’s silence, upon which the door into the cart pushed open, and a girl’s head popped out. “Everything—” she stopped abruptly upon seeing everyone. She had fair skin and her face was littered, just as Ember’s was, with freckles. Black hair fell into a stubby braid over her shoulder, and her eyes were vividly blue that Ember could see even from where she stood.

Ember glanced back towards where the group of people now stood uneasily, their horses shifting or chomping at their bits.

And then she noticed one who had a grey cloth hanging off their neck. No, not a cloth. A mask.

The stranger who had dismounted pointed towards Enoch. “This man has—”

She stepped forward in front of Enoch, her veins alight with a hot anger. They had attacked her home and threatened her parents and her friends, and they had escaped. “You,” she snarled.

Enoch’s hand left his blade and thunked! back into its sheathe. He grabbed her shoulder, and hissed. “What—”

She uncurled her hands that had been clenched in fists and, before she could even spit out the hate building in her chest into words, twin flames burst on her palms. They twisted and danced with an eerie and intense golden light.

“Ember, no—” Rowan tried to scramble forward to stop her.

Adolebitque ea,” she growled. And the fires leapt from her hands and onto the ground, expanding towards the grey masks.

Enoch’s grip tightened on her shoulder and he yanked her back as the fire began to catch and rise, growing rapidly. All the mounted grey masks tugged their horses around and spurred them hard, taking off in a line. The one who had dismounted was turning to mount his own, but the horse reared and turned, taking off after its companions, and the fire leapt at him.

She watched the flames and a deep, unlit satisfaction flickered in her. Nobody attacked her or her family and escaped the fire. She felt like she could fly.

“Gods dammit, you little sprite!” Enoch howled, still gripping her shoulder hard enough to leave an imprint. “We have to go!”

“Get in the cart!” the woman shouted, gesturing towards the opened door.

The girl had stepped out, and a boy of similar stature and appearance beside her. The fire was rapidly spreading towards them.

She blinked and shook her head. A fog lifted from her mind she hadn’t realised was there, and she stared now in sharp fear as the golden flames began to rise towards the sky in great columns.

“Wait,” she said, as Enoch dragged her towards the cart. “No, I didn’t mean— I don’t know how to—”

She heard both Rowan and Cassius shout something, but her ears were filled with the crackling of the fire.

Let it consume them.

“No—” She was thrust into the cart and the door was shut.

The fire wasn’t gone, even as the cart puttered and jerked forward. The boy who had stepped out of the cart was, in panic, trying to put out a rapidly growing flame consuming his sleeve.

Cassius, who was squashed into the cart beside her, lunged forward and grabbed the boy’s arm. “Vos demitto,” he yelled. His breath curled out in prismatic, glistening smoke, and suddenly the flame was gone, doused.

Her heart stuttered, and the fire roaring in her ears dissipated. She couldn’t feel it anymore, and it left her cold. She shivered.

“I didn’t mean to,” she said quietly, after a moment had passed. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking.”

The boy smiled at her, partially holding up a now recovering Cassius. “No harm done.” Then he glanced down at his sleeve. “Well.”

Alanna leaned forward, squished on the other side of Enoch at the end. This cart was not made for so many people to occupy it at once. “Cassius can fix that for you!” she chirped. “He likes making clothes.”

The boy glanced down at Cassius, who finally seemed to realise the threat had passed and looked up at the boy. He jerked away then, returning to his own seat, and hugged his arms around himself. His cheeks were flushed. “Mmhmm,” he agreed, but looked far too severely embarrassed to say anything more.

Across him, the boy watched him with a growing, if not reserved smile. “I think I would like that.”

She looked down at her hands. How had she done that? Conjured that fire? She hadn’t said anything, hadn’t meant to—

An arm fell across her shoulders, and she glanced up at Enoch. He opened his mouth, his expression twisted in a glower. But when she met his gaze, he shut his mouth, shook his head, and simply patted her shoulder.

Heart hammering in her chest and shivering like a leaf, she leaned into his side, and buried half her face into his clothes.

He didn’t push her away.

word count:

1,684

Translations:

Adolebitque ea = Burn them.

Vos demitto = You're fired.


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Sun Jun 21, 2020 12:45 pm
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HarryHardy wrote a review...



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

Approaching three fourths done now,

First Impression: There is more to this Enoch than we think. And that was incredibly lucky to run into those strangers on a cart. Wonder who they are?

And let's get on with it,

There were seven riders at most, and they slowed at they approached. One of them broke from the rest and led his horse right up in front of them, his companions following at a slower pace. He had dark hair contrasted by splashes of grey, and eyes that searched over their group with a hungry intensity. He barely spared Enoch a glance.


Signs of trouble conveyed nicely there.

She stepped backwards, until she was right beside Enoch. For once, his presence was comforting, as her stomach twisted and wrung.

Enoch’s expression had hardened, but he stood unwavering. Alanna deliberately hid behind him, and Cassius stood on his other side. Rowan watched quietly nearby Ember.


Now that is very interesting. The children have somehow managed to form some kind of bond with the man.

“How strange that is,” Enoch said. “Because these are my charges from Chromium. You must have them mistaken, good sir.” His lip twitched into a sneer. “I’m on orders from Queen Inga herself.” He placed his hand atop his sword, which he turned just enough so that the hilt, and the insignia, glinted in the dimmed light. Or at least, she was pretty sure it glinted.


So he is an official knight and not someone who stole a special sword.

The man took a step back, smile wavering, accompanied by what she swore was the sound of a puttering engine. “How strange indeed,” the man said. “Then I suppose the children accompanying you are not, in fact, Rowan, Cassius, Eugenia, and Alanna?”


So the ones who broke in even knew their names. That's interesting. Or were these names extracted from the parents?

The stranger’s smile finally fell away and twisted into a snarl. “This is ridiculous. These are the children we are looking for.” He reached for the sheath at his side, which she only just noticed. “You have no idea the power they wield. It would be in your best interest to give them up.”


Well that was a quick 180. Also who are these people?

But as she pulled the cart to a stop with a lever beside the bustle of activity, Ember squinted to see her sword. She was carrying a greatsword strapped to her back, and there was no special ornamental sigils to be seen.


Small Nitpick: Strapping a greatsword to the back is an incredibly bad idea because it is ridiculously hard to draw. Unless a sword is shorter than the length of your arm by at least half a foot which is unlikely if its a greatsword it is physically impossible to draw a sword from the back. Only something like a Roman gladius would be practical to strap to your back.

She stepped forward in front of Enoch, her veins alight with a hot anger. They had attacked her home and threatened her parents and her friends, and they had escaped. “You,” she snarled.

Enoch’s hand left his blade and thunked! back into its sheathe. He grabbed her shoulder, and hissed. “What—”

She uncurled her hands that had been clenched in fists and, before she could even spit out the hate building in her chest into words, twin flames burst on her palms. They twisted and danced with an eerie and intense golden light.


Ooh that's a nice description of her power there.

She blinked and shook her head. A fog lifted from her mind she hadn’t realised was there, and she stared now in sharp fear as the golden flames began to rise towards the sky in great columns.


That's interesting. Something within her took control for a second.

Cassius, who was squashed into the cart beside her, lunged forward and grabbed the boy’s arm. “Vos demitto,” he yelled. His breath curled out in prismatic, glistening smoke, and suddenly the flame was gone, doused.


Cassius having rainbow colored magic as his tell is really funny for some reason.

Across him, the boy watched him with a growing, if not reserved smile. “I think I would like that.”


Okay why did Cassius not immediately think about Artemesa once the whole fire business was done or possibly during the fire business because she was nearby and that was a lot of fire.

Heart hammering in her chest and shivering like a leaf, she leaned into his side, and buried half her face into his clothes.

He didn’t push her away.


That's interesting.

And that's it.

Overall: Pretty good fight scene again. Ember's uncontrolled attack now adds another layer to this plot. This whole trueblood thing is sounding very convoluted.

As always take what you think will help 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...



There are so many things about this that I love

1) Cassius put the fire out by saying "You're fired" and I just cannot contain my giggles

2) Cassius has a not-so-secret admirer omgomgomg

3) I love when large, strong, intimidating men find a young daughter-like individual to care for so seeing Enoch comfot Ember COMPLETELY MELTED MY HEART I JUST LOVE THIS TURN OF EVENTS SO MUCH. Those two would TOTALLY bond better than the others because they're both spirited and strong and I just. I LOVED THAT SO MUUUUUUCH <3 <3 <3

Okay so Enoch doesn't KNOW but he knwos something's not quite right about the kids. GOsh. GOSH OKAY MELL I JUST. This whole segment elevated Enoch as a character. He defended the children and was doing such a great job of it and hwas ACTUALLY prepared to use his sword and it was all working so well it almost felt like it WOULD work -- so naturally things didn't work out BUT I LOVED IT ALL. Enoch clearly HAS morals he stands for, he's grown SOME sort of attachment to these kids and is unwilling to part with them (whether for money or honor, we don't knkow, but he's standing up for something at least).

I also think his lie partially gave away some of his past too, like he was a loyal knight and something happened 'cause now he's looking to sell children but NOW he's like okay this isn't right they're mine back off AND IT'S SO GOOD. This one scene added layers to this character and now I'm excited about what is happening.

Plus Enoch hugging Ember is just everything. <3

And then there's Ember who not only used magic -- but it completely freaked her out. Something took hold of her actions apparently and that is just terrifying. And not only that, but despite Ember not knowing how to do that, Rowan reached out to stop her anyway as if they knew what was going to happen. Rowan has much better understanding of magic, and they also know Ember's experience with magic, but Ember admits that she knows nothing of magic and didn't intend for any of that to happen. It's just. so fascinating. I am SO intrigued.

AND ALSO WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE LIKE I NEED NAMES. The man in the mask, I'm pretty sure gave away the fact they were behind the attack on the Citadel (obvs because Ember flipped), but like... who are they??

And one final thought I had was about Cassius. I'm kind of disappointed he didn't look even fractionally mortified at being parted from Artemesa, so that might've been a slip-up. But I am deathly afraid for Artemesa now and I hope those two are reunited again 'cause I'm so worried.

Oh, and did Enoch not put up a fight at all? Maybe he decided against it since Ember was causing enough trouble for everyone and maybe Enoch really isn't sure what to think or how to feel and i dunno. I was slightly shocked he was shoved into the cart with the rest of them so quietly (ironically 'cause fire things).

man. I need a breather, so much has happened here. This chapter excited me. I look forward to the next one! <3




mellifera says...


Cassius put the fire out by saying "You're fired" and I just cannot contain my giggles


literally one of my favourite things about writing the different characters using magic is how it's affected by their personalities and how they would ask for it!!! I'm so glad that you noticed that :')

I also think his lie partially gave away some of his past too, like he was a loyal knight and something happened


*whistles innocently*

And one final thought I had was about Cassius. I'm kind of disappointed he didn't look even fractionally mortified at being parted from Artemesa, so that might've been a slip-up.


I was thinking about Artemesa the whole time! But as soon as I started to include something about her at the end, it felt forced, like I had to mention her. Since this isn't Cassius' pov, and Ember's just gone through a Big Scare, I don't know if there's a good, organic way to include Artemesa getting mentioned? Right now, I'm chalking it up to not having the time to wind down from the encounter (especially because ye, Cassius recognised some of the riders! he was the only one who saw any with their masks off!), but I'll have to reconsider that too.

Oh, and did Enoch not put up a fight at all?


genuinely I just think he was too shocked to really consider putting up a fight (plus, one woman and two kids/teens vs. a handful of mounted combatants fire?) or protesting!


you're amazing omg all these reviews!! thank you so much <333 I love reading all your insights and comments they give me life :')



JabberHut says...


Since this isn't Cassius' pov, and Ember's just gone through a Big Scare, I don't know if there's a good, organic way to include Artemesa getting mentioned


Oooh yeah, that's a good point. Then it's probably fine as is and would be addressed later since Cassius is still rather quiet for us to assume it's happening.

genuinely I just think he was too shocked to really consider putting up a fight (plus, one woman and two kids/teens vs. a handful of mounted combatants fire?) or protesting!


This did kind of occur to me, so I can see that being the case! Especially since he even alluded to the idea that he wouldn't fight back, despite the fact it would be for different reasons.

you're amazing omg all these reviews!! thank you so much <333 I love reading all your insights and comments they give me life :')


NO YOU'RE AMAZING AND YOUR NOVEL IS AMAZING AND I AM OVERJOYED EVERY TIME YOU POST AND THE DAYS YOU POST TWO THINGS I JUST SCREAM WITH HAPPINESS <333333




A classic is a book which people praise and don't read.
— Mark Twain