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Children with Stars in their Veins (Chapter 30.2)

by mellifera


Jax didn’t come back before Mishal and Isadora went to sleep.

When they gathered for a breakfast Juna had kindly made for them, however, Gracia emerged from one of the corners with the rest. There was a dark bruise that started at her temple and ran down to her jaw, and she looked bleary and worn, but otherwise all right.

Gracia!” Isadora said, delighted. She looked considerably less tired and pale than the night before, though her movements were still limited.

Gracia smiled weakly at Isadora and sat beside her. Mishal watched from the other side of Isadora, quietly collecting his food and beginning to eat. “Hi, Isa. Mishal. I’m incredibly relieved to see the two of you back here, safe.”

Are you all right?” he asked. “Did you get back last night?”

She nodded and nibbled at a hunk of bread. “I’m dazed, shaken, but I’m okay. We couldn’t save the carriage. No idea what happened to the second.” Gracia’s expression fell. “Most of our supplies are gone.” Then she shook her head. “But Jax found us last night, brought us back. We would have said hello, but, well. I think we were all too exhausted to even try talking.”

That means Margaretta’s here too, then? And Jax came back?” Isadora asked, tucking into her food quietly as they spoke, and slowly, so as not to upset her side.

Gracia smiled, and before she could respond, one of the side doors slid open. A rush of pale morning light swelled through the door, as well as the rush of a warm breeze. He chewed his mouthful as he turned to watch.

Jax was the first to step through, and it released pressure that had been building on Mishal’s chest. He was followed by Margaretta, who looked dishevelled and tired. Her shirt was torn across her arm and coated with a spattering of dried blood, but the wound beneath had seemingly already been tended too.

Jax found Partridge as well,” Gracia said quietly. “She was brought to the physician’s clinic last night. She’d been caught by the roc and dropped, but she got away. Took all her energy to get back.” She looked down at her hands. “I would have healed her, but…”

Isadora put her hand on Gracia’s knee. “Nobody would ask that of you, not right now. You need your own health right now.”

Jax and Margaretta joined the group. Margaretta, though weary, also looked invigorated.

You weren’t back by the time the sun went down,” Isadora pointed out, though there was a smile twitching on her mouth.

A grin broke out across Jax’s face, half-sheepish and half-playful. “I suppose I wasn’t, but we still managed all right, didn’t we?”

There was little in the way of expression on Margaretta’s face, but she did turn to her food and begin carefully poking at it. She was gaunt and her movements were strained, as though she were holding herself back from absolutely devouring it.

As I explained to Mishal and Isadora yesterday when I first arrived, I was on my way to make sure you weren’t going on our original plan.” Jax glanced towards the two of them, and then back to Margaretta. “The rocs are swarming the valley.”

Margaretta didn’t glance up. “So we’ve seen.”

But I did just ride here from the City of Bells,” Jax continued pointedly. “Technology is running a race there. I hear that’s all courtesy of the generous Queen Juliette, though I’m sure it’s not at all motivated by Chromium’s ambitions to get ahead. That’s not my point.” He waved his hand. “The Sundown Ruins were the last to fall, the curse will be weakest there. Mari, they sent an expedition out ten years ago.”

She looked towards him, but her expression was sceptical. “What does that matter if no one came back?”

But that’s the thing. Someone did come back.”

Mishal stilled, nearly dropping his fork. He stared up at Jax, who held a now captivated and stunned Margaretta to full attention. Someone came back. Everything he’d ever heard, nobody ever came back.

If someone came back from the fabled, legendary ruins, then why was it not more known?

Why didn’t we know this?” Margaretta asked, putting her food aside entirely. “You’ve been forming connections for us for years, establishing yourself everywhere. If it was ten years ago, why didn’t we know?”

Jax side-eyed the two of them.

I wasn’t in the City of Bells ten years ago, I was home. In fact, I haven’t been since I just now. It’s been independent all this time, though we’ll see how long that lasts, and I was only travelling there because a contact moved there last year, and I needed a favour. Besides, there were other things that were pressing at the time, even if the news ever gained any footing—which I doubt since they’ve kept it so quiet from everyone I know—there was plenty we were working on at the time.”

City of Bells is reputable, and it will have more supplies and chance for recuperation after the losses suffered here,” Margaretta said. “We can travel lighter now with the two carriages gone.” Her expression was set, determined. A look she got occasionally, usually followed by hours locked in her study. “What about the Wilderlands?”

Jax shrugged. “I’ve heard nothing out of the ordinary, but the roads are newer. Even if they weren’t, you’re more likely to be able to commission the city to repair them if they’re cracked. They have competent mages there who can tame the land, as well as construction workers. I doubt it would be, but there’s outposts in the area that lead down to the town on the Mirror’s Coast.”

Mishal turned to look at the mush in his bowl, and the warmth of brown sugar stirred within began to turn sour in his mouth. Maybe a part of him had hoped this would discourage Margaretta altogether.

Except another part of him didn’t want to go home. He couldn’t claim to have so much interest in the ruins either. In fact, seeing the City of Bells, seeing a real outside town full of diverse people and real culture would be…

Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad.

Isadora’s jaw was tight though. She didn’t look nearly as interested as he was beginning to feel.

It’ll take longer,” she said. Margaretta’s head jerked up like she’d forgotten anyone else was there. “What about the others? I miss my family. This wasn’t a decision I made, in truth, even though I didn’t fight it. But I’m not a historian or an archaeologist.”

Jax ran a hand through his hair and gave Isadora a kindly smile. “Think of all the stories and things you’ll be able to bring back to the others. Oh, and you’ll love the city. They have towers in intervals around the walls and they’re all filled with bells. When they ring, it fills the city with this beautiful chorus of their chiming, and there’s one big steeple in the middle of the city decorated by murals made of silver, and it just shines like diamonds in the sun.”

It’s something that could make history,” Forestter said from his place across the floor. “You grew up in the Chronicler’s Guild. This is what you were raised for.”

Isadora looked down at her breakfast, her jaw still tight. “Yeah. I suppose so.”

Mishal put his bowl down and gently nudged her leg with his boot. “We’ll see the others again soon.”

She didn’t respond, but glanced up to meet Margaretta’s gaze, who was watching Isadora carefully like Isadora was a horse about to spook.

I want to be back by my sister’s birthday,” she said, then painfully rose from her place, collected her bowl, and hobbled away.

After breakfast, he entertained the idea of practising with his sword, but turned instead to finding Juna and offering his help with the horses. After all, they wouldn’t get anywhere if they had no mounts.

Maybe this expedition would be good for him after all. So long as there were no more rocs or bandits or fatal encounters.

word count:

1,358


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Sun Jun 21, 2020 6:17 pm
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HarryHardy wrote a review...



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

The beginning of the end for the day,

First Impression: So they both managed to get back. I was expecting only one of them to get back. And some backstory for Jax. And a change of plans that Isadora does not like. That was a good show of her character and how the other children especially her sister are very important to her.

She nodded and nibbled at a hunk of bread. “I’m dazed, shaken, but I’m okay. We couldn’t save the carriage. No idea what happened to the second.” Gracia’s expression fell. “Most of our supplies are gone.” Then she shook her head. “But Jax found us last night, brought us back. We would have said hello, but, well. I think we were all too exhausted to even try talking.”


Do we get any details on how Jax manages to pull this off?

“Jax found Partridge as well,” Gracia said quietly. “She was brought to the physician’s clinic last night. She’d been caught by the roc and dropped, but she got away. Took all her energy to get back.” She looked down at her hands. “I would have healed her, but…”


That must be quite the story considering that she must have been dropped somewhere in the Wilderlands.

A grin broke out across Jax’s face, half-sheepish and half-playful. “I suppose I wasn’t, but we still managed all right, didn’t we?”


So Jax seems to be a much friendlier person that the kids also seem to like and respect much more than Margaretta.

“As I explained to Mishal and Isadora yesterday when I first arrived, I was on my way to make sure you weren’t going on our original plan.” Jax glanced towards the two of them, and then back to Margaretta. “The rocs are swarming the valley.”


So despite him being away the plan was discussed with him too or did they not tweak the plan they made ten years ago.

“But that’s the thing. Someone did come back.”


Considering all the hype around these ruins you would expect this to be big news so why has no one else heard of this guy who came back?

“I wasn’t in the City of Bells ten years ago, I was home. In fact, I haven’t been since I just now. It’s been independent all this time, though we’ll see how long that lasts, and I was only travelling there because a contact moved there last year, and I needed a favour. Besides, there were other things that were pressing at the time, even if the news ever gained any footing—which I doubt since they’ve kept it so quiet from everyone I know—there was plenty we were working on at the time.”


So he never told the guild about any of what he was doing?

“City of Bells is reputable, and it will have more supplies and chance for recuperation after the losses suffered here,” Margaretta said. “We can travel lighter now with the two carriages gone.” Her expression was set, determined. A look she got occasionally, usually followed by hours locked in her study. “What about the Wilderlands?”

So did she forget about the two riders? How are they going to know to travel to this different destination?

Jax shrugged. “I’ve heard nothing out of the ordinary, but the roads are newer. Even if they weren’t, you’re more likely to be able to commission the city to repair them if they’re cracked. They have competent mages there who can tame the land, as well as construction workers. I doubt it would be, but there’s outposts in the area that lead down to the town on the Mirror’s Coast.”


So there is some kind of magic to control the land.

Jax ran a hand through his hair and gave Isadora a kindly smile. “Think of all the stories and things you’ll be able to bring back to the others. Oh, and you’ll love the city. They have towers in intervals around the walls and they’re all filled with bells. When they ring, it fills the city with this beautiful chorus of their chiming, and there’s one big steeple in the middle of the city decorated by murals made of silver, and it just shines like diamonds in the sun.”


Nice description there.

“It’s something that could make history,” Forestter said from his place across the floor. “You grew up in the Chronicler’s Guild. This is what you were raised for.”


Well they haven't done much chronicling yet though.

Maybe this expedition would be good for him after all. So long as there were no more rocs or bandits or fatal encounters.


If only the poor boy knew what he was getting into by being the protagonist of a story.

And that's it.

Overall: A bit of a setting things up chapter and it serves its purpose well. Several questions asked especially regarding Jax and everything that happened. Also there's that part where they mentioned Jax failing in something so it would be interesting to see what that meant.

As always take what you think will help and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




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Sun May 31, 2020 5:33 pm
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JesseWrites wrote a review...



Hello,

Warning: This is out of order, so yeah.

What I Like

Nice one adding word count. It makes everything better organized and easier to look at instead of just winging out an answer.

The way you closed it off was solid and pretty pleasing. There was no added things that caused confusion. I just flowed very well.

I also agree with the other reviewer on most things.

Things I Think Can Improve

Hm. This is sort of short looking, so it throws me off a little.

The word count is still large, so nothing there.

Errors

Her shirt was torn across her arm and coated with a spattering of dried blood, but the wound beneath had seemingly already been tended too.


To instead of too. Easy fix.

This review is brought to you by,
Team Aubergine Leader, Haley




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Sun May 31, 2020 1:45 am
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JabberHut wrote a review...



Okay so I'm excited about City of Bells. I want to go there. sobad. It sounds so pretty and awesome and mega and fascinating AND I AM REALLY EXCITED TO GO THERE.

BUT WHY WASN'T THIS PART OF THE PLAN TO BEGIN WITH. Maybe because it's kind of out of the way, but considering their dire state, it would be worth the diversion to visit. yes that must be it.

also I loved Isadora's ultimatum with Alanna's birthday. This is a new twist to throw in, providing a soft time limit. We don't know when Alanna's birthday is or if the caravan was originally planned to be back in time (I don't think? I don't remember), but it provides another layer of complexity to everything.

This entire thing with the roc attack and the diversion to City of Bells feels a bit random so it's possibly a result of LMS and will be addressed later. Which also introduced a bit sloppily the idea that there IS a survivor and Jax had just found out about it. It's all kinda adding up a bit crazily, so I'm just taking Jax's word for it at this point. But all that aside, I'm excited about this City of Bells and the turn of events, so I'm intrigued by what might happen in the future.

It was also not very clear who had returned and how/when. It was kind of rushed through that point, that it was morning when the kids finally confirmed everyone was back, but they clearly had been back for some time I think since sounds were dressed and such. And also, the fact that Gracia first exchanged words with Isadora and Mishal was a surprise to me as I didn't think they were all that close and I even questioned if there were any other survivors. XD

I feel like Jax and Margaretta are still not really sharing everything. I still am a bit confused about Jax's position and what his purpose is or was before this. However, I love the character and I can't help but feel safe and happy with him so he clearly has a certain amount of charm that can prove dangerous later if not used well.

PLEASE DON'T BE A BAD GUY //CRY

And going back to Isadora's hesitation at the end, using Alanna's birthday and such. That bit. I really... like how she's coming up with excuses now to get back home. 'Cause not only did she demand being home in time for Alanna's birthday, but she also insisted this wasn't something she signed up for and that she wasn't a historian or archaeologist or anything. This was a weak argument, which Forestter had responded with immediately, but it really shows Isadora's trying to just go home 'cause she's very uncertain about what the mission really is and how secretive Margaretta seems to be.

It's interesting that Mishal doesn't feel much the same way. We know for a fact he misses them as this has been addressed in the past, but now he seems to just want to move forward, convincing himself that this will be good for him in the end. but lord, mishal, I think we can agree that it has not been a safe journey and things will not chanGE DO NOT FOOL YOURSELF.




mellifera says...


BUT WHY WASN'T THIS PART OF THE PLAN TO BEGIN WITH.


because i needed the timelines to match up for the endings and had a lot for the four little ones and not a lot for these two :')

It's all kinda adding up a bit crazily


FIRST DRAFT WOES the timelines were killing me though I have no other excuse xD

everything probably felt rushed because I realised there was A LOT I had to explain after the attack and I was trying to cram it all into one chapter without making them super long. basically everyone returned at slightly different times, Isa and Mishal were the last to return before Jax showed up, and he went and recovered Margaretta, Gracia, and Partridge! I know that's not very clear. I knew this chapter was gonna falter, but that's what revisions are for, right? :P


again, thank you so much for all your reviews!! I super appreciate them <333



JabberHut says...


LOL

Yeah, for sure, I figured this felt like first draft woes. XD So that totally makes sense and like I said, I will totally go with the flow beCAUSE I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT'S HAPPENING




"Honestly, I think the world is going to end bloody. But it doesn't mean we shouldn't fight. We do have choices."
— Dean Winchester