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Children with Stars in their Veins (Chapter 39.1)

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

*

[Rowan]



Ever since Ember had blustered about how she wanted to go to Chromium, Rowan had been sitting on it. And the more they thought about it, the more sense it seemed to make, especially with the Grey Masks on their tail.

Alanna only seemed to care as long as the others, Cassius in particular—he had been the one to look after her more closely than Rowan or Ember—were going. Cassius seemed amiable.

As amiable as he could be. The four of them were sitting at one end of the barn, waiting for Enoch to return, and Cassius was moping atop a haybale. Artemesa sat just beneath him, and she was evidently greatly irritated by Cassius not paying attention to her. He sighed, for the thousandth time, and glanced across the room, where Caddy and Hypatis were going through their things to make sure they had everything for their journey even further north.

“Of course he’s leaving,” Cassius said, as though this were not obvious. “Must everything turn sour with enough time?”

Ember rolled over to swat his curls. “Stars and seas, you sound like a terrible combination of Mishal and a poet. It’s disgusting.”

“Maybe you can write letters to each other,” Alanna suggested. “Send him poetry.”

“See? Even Alanna’s not as hopeless as you are.”

He scowled and turned, so that he was watching them all upside down. Rowan snickered at the sight, such a twisted expression flipped. “Even if this doesn’t end up as you would have hoped, Rascal, you’ll find your dashing prince.”

Cassius’ scowl faded as he peered towards Rowan, then his nose wrinkled as though he had smelled something foul. “I only know one prince. Ugh, I would never.” He shuddered, almost comically in its exaggeration. “Eugh, why did you even say that? What a terrible thought.”

For a moment, everyone stared at him. Then Ember, unwarranted at first glance, burst into laughter so hard that she was in tears moments later. Alanna began a fit of her giggles, burying her face in her hands as though to contain them and failing.

It was then that Rowan understood and began trying to keep their laughter under their breath. Cassius had such a dreadfully disgusted look on his face that if the thought of such a couple was not hilarious in and of itself, the expression Cassius wore certainly was.

“That wasn’t funny!” Cassius protested.

Ember slapped the haybale. “Can you imagine? You and Stormy? The world would explode!”

“They’d kill each other if they spent more than two hours alone together,” Alanna added, raising her head out of the clutches of her hands. She looked more joyful then Rowan had seen in some time, her pale eyes glittering blue even in the dim light of the lanterns.

“At least your life would never be boring, constantly tormenting one another,” Rowan pointed out. They didn’t expect it to bring Cassius comfort, and they were not disappointed as Cassius flipped back over onto his stomach and glowered at all of them.

“I’d rather be strangled by a tree,” he responded, dry as a sun-bitten bone. Then he stuck out his tongue, like a bitter taste had come upon his tongue. “Euch.”

Alanna’s laughing slowed, though her joy did not escape her. “Mishal isn’t that bad,” she said.

“But he is!” Cassius said. Artemesa had one of her feet over her nose and her feathers were all ruffled up. “Look, you’re scaring Mesa!”

“I thought you said you two have an emotional bond,” Rowan said. “Are you scaring her with your own revulsion?”

Cassius blanched. “Well, if I am, it’s your fault.”

“I am not the one who started this,” Rowan reminded him.

“You said prince!”

“And your first thought was Mishal?”

The side door of the barn slid open and Enoch stepped inside. The four of them went quiet as he approached, and he squinted at them. “What are the four of you conspiring about behind everyone’s backs?”

Ember, who had recovered but wiped a few tears that had gathered on her lower eyelashes, fell onto her back, and grabbed onto Enoch’s shoe. He frowned down at her. “Do you really want to know?” she asked.

He picked his foot up and out of Ember’s range and side-stepped away from her. “You’re right, I don’t.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “If the four of you are so set on a journey to Chromium, you need actual travelling things. And best hurry, there’s some strange activity about the Gates.” Though he had alluded to escorting them there, Enoch said he would not bring them into Chromium, though gave no reason for it. When pressed, it was Ember who had deflected. Whatever it was that scared Enoch away from the kingdom, Rowan had no doubt Ember knew of it.

Alanna tilted her head. “What kind of activity?”

Enoch’s frown grew grim. “Summermount soldiers. It never bodes well when the westerners set foot in the north.”

The mood turned sombre, the joy leaving Alanna and Ember’s faces in one fell swoop. Rowan’s own heart felt weighted at this news. The last time Summermount had come to the Divine Tundra, it had been to wage war, and a long and terrible one at that. It seemed they were always at odds about something.

But then what were Summermount soldiers doing here?

* * *

It was hard to make their way towards market without staring at the retinue of Summermount soldiers, who were being led by a group who looked to be an envoy from Glacier’s Keep, bearing the crest of their kingdom.

The entourage from Summermount, with their red tunics draped in long, dark chainmail, and burnished metal breastplates with the emblem of a glowing ruby, looked rather out of place. They stood out like blood on snow and did not look particularly dressed for the weather. Their pointed helmets did not appear to provide any warmth or shelter from the cold, though it was not so harsh now, they looked cold. Many had arms bared and were hunched forward, trying to shrink into themselves to retain their warmth. They all carried either a set of a curved, deadly blade that Rowan knew not the name of, and a red and gold buckler, or the shield alongside a spear with a blade at the point, polished and glistening.

Enoch was trying to press Cassius into getting a crossbow, though Cassius dodged and distracted at every opportunity and Enoch seemed to be getting quickly annoyed. Ember was whispering to an awestruck Alanna, about the craftsmanship of the swords, and about how she imagined, in Chromium, she could make something on par with these mighty and beautiful weapons.

Rowan was only paying enough attention to follow the threads of the conversation. They, as many others were doing, watched the soldiers being led around by those dressed in fine furs and pelts, and the armour of Glacier’s Keep.

But the two groups were steadily moving away, talking in conversation Rowan couldn’t hear. They glanced around almost absent-minded, to see those who had taken interest.

Their gaze caught on a figure across the thoroughfare with a drawn expression, leading a majestic though tired and damp Clydesdale, and who was watching the soldiers with a frown. He was dressed in a warm, woollen cloak dyed black, and hid what weapons or possessions he may have had.

And Rowan recognised both horse and rider.



word count:

1,242




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Wed Nov 11, 2020 8:58 pm
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starlitmind wrote a review...



Watermelon

Artemesa sat just beneath him, and she was evidently greatly irritated by Cassius not paying attention to her.


Imagine having a friend that you could be talking to and no one would know what you'd be saying. Like imagine if Mesa and Cassius were both students at the same school, and during a class, lecture, or whatever, Mesa makes a funny remark and Cassius just hears it through their connection and no one would never know.

ORRRR what if Mesa gave all the test answers to Cassius xD

Caddy and Hypatis were going through their things to make sure they had everything for their journey even further north.

“Of course he’s leaving,” Cassius said, as though this were not obvious. “Must everything turn sour with enough time?”


NOO are they ever going to see each other again? :(

“Stars and seas, you sound like a terrible combination of Mishal and a poet. It’s disgusting.”


Okay but I want to see a combination of Mishal and a poet

“Maybe you can write letters to each other,” Alanna suggested. “Send him poetry.”


Having a poetry pen pal seems like such a cool and fun idea, I want to do that now

“You said prince!”

“And your first thought was Mishal?”


Cassius continuously brings up Mishal in conversations, by accident or not, and I find it funny that Mishal's name seems to come up the most by him despite Cassius's supposed "hatred" of Mishal :p

The four of them went quiet as he approached, and he squinted at them. “What are the four of you conspiring about behind everyone’s backs?”


This makes me think they're having a sleepover and a parent walks in

The last time Summermount had come to the Divine Tundra, it had been to wage war, and a long and terrible one at that. It seemed they were always at odds about something.

But then what were Summermount soldiers doing here?


There are so many things happening! There's a lot of conflict and action, and now we have another problem oof cx

They stood out like blood on snow


I love this comparison; it's simple but it's very true! This is very out of context, but I was thinking about blood on snow today cx

And Rowan recognised both horse and rider.


JAX? :o

Okay so I was skimming through other reviews because I love reading everyone's interpretations hehe, and I thought I'd tell you that I don't think having so many characters is confusing! I remember at the beginning it seemed like a lot, but that's how I tend to feel during book expositions. But now, I don't think it's hard to keep track of all of your characters. But if you started this chapter without reading any previous chapters, I could see why someone thinks this is a whole bunch of characters c:

I hope we get to hear more of Rowan's thoughts in the next part of this chapter! Like their theory that they mentioned last chapter but didn't elaborate on

I'm excited to see Ember's birthplace ^^




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Sun Sep 20, 2020 10:48 pm
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JabberHut wrote a review...



LOL I'm not gonna lie, it took me a couple paragraphs to realize that Cassius was implying Mishal and I just died. Omg that joke's pacing went SO well for me, I cannot even. XD The highlight of this chapter, I swear.

It sounds like it was decided maybe off-screen that the group was in consensus to go to Chromium -- namely, the narration excused Cassius as being "amiable," so there was pretty much an off-screen agreement for them to go to Chromium next. It was certainly a jumpstart to get them moving forward, but I'm going with it 'cause I like it. I'm excited they're going to Chromium. I'd have liked to see Cassius response to the idea of them going to Chromium, but I can also imagine Cassius wouldn't care either way. I do wonder if Artemesa cares, though, if the city is underground and she's a growing dragon. It doesn't seem like a very comfy place for her to be, especially after the close-escape from the citadel where we were lucky she was small enough to escape still.

I also appreciated the mention of Caddy and Hypatis packing up for their own adventure. It makes me sad to see these new characters go so soon when we were just getting to know them. They're in this awkward spot where they seemed to be temporary characters, but we knew them long enough that they could potentially be just as loved as the main characters if they stuck around or came back later, you know? But to be fair, they've so far felt like ways to help the main characters progress in their quest anyway, so maybe they don't have much more significance to the story, which would be sad considering the small build-up they had so far. :( BUT they're going north too, so I also see us running into them again later, which could be super fun. Imagine if they were a new PoV to the story now as we experience the north and how the plot is progressing there?! (Now I'm just getting ahead of myself.)

I am very curious as to how much time passed for them to get to Chromium. I wager it wasn't that far away, but it could be long enough to impact plot progression in other parts of the world. So mainly as a frame of reference to the reader. It sounds like they're already almost there if they see the Summermount soldiers outside already.

But anyhoot, I love this introduction to Chromium and also how you sprinkled in the Summermount conflict as well. Actually, I wonder if the Summermount soldiers being around makes this easier for Enoch to sneak in, but I guess that really depends what Summermount is really doing there in the first place. They could potentially be hindering Chromium's usual operations, which means Enoch could get away with walking through the gates. On the other hand, Chromium soldiers could be super alert too with high security and potentially notice him on the spot.

IS THAT JAX.

Okay I cheated 'cause I had to knoW I'M SO EXCITED THEY'RE ABOUT TO SEE JAX AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH




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Tuckster wrote a review...



*kicks down door* you, my friend, are about to have the experience of a 2-am, caffeine-induced, sleep-deprived, Youtube-mashup-powered review ramble from yours truly.

Alanna only seemed to care as long as the others, Cassius in particular—he had been the one to look after her more closely than Rowan or Ember—were going. Cassius seemed amiable.
I think you know what three words are about to come out of my mouth keyboard. This could be shown in a somewhat-brief conversation, but just tossing this information at the reader is an ineffective means of communication.

Though he had alluded to escorting them there

*glares in show-don't-tell*

Rowan was only paying enough attention to follow the threads of the conversation.
I will concede that this is more subtle, but I found this to be an unnecessary statement. I could already tell from reading the summary of the conversation that Rowan was only barely paying attention, so there's no need to state that outright.

I have a pressing question for you, and it is this: what is in the barn that motivates the characters to hang out there? I have been in barns before and did not particularly enjoy the experience? but I am a city slicker, in all fairness so I have a hard time imagining why people would just sit in there unless they were safer in there or there were other attractions in there. This could totally be personal preference but it was somewhat striking for me and probably would be for other urban readers.

Also, how many characters do you have, and how in the world do you manage to keep track of all of them?? I am notoriously bad at names and keeping track of people, and I did jump thirty chapters into your story, but I feel like every single chapter, there's a host of new characters with their own backgrounds, personalities, and complex relationships. I think it's fantastic that you are able to keep track of these in your brain (and beg you to reveal your secrets), but it may? be worth evaluating if you might have too many. I'm hesitant to ask you to kill your babies, but I know there are many people who have trouble keeping track of characters, so it's probably worth a thought.

I found the introduction of these new soldiers to be interesting and well-timed! You've entered towards the end of a character conflict of sorts, and it's a good spot to add a new plot point / point of contention between characters. I don't know if this was your intention, but I got a strong Roman/European-colonizer vibe from these new soldiers.

That concludes this brilliant work of art! I'm sorry if any of this came across as harsh or mean or inappropriately intense; that truly wasn't my intent! You do fantastic writing and that's part of the reason that I'm always hunting for the smallest things to comment on in the hopes I can give you valuable feedback. At the very least, I hope some of this rambling made you smile :) As always, feel free to reach out with any questions!

Best,
Tuck
Image




mellifera says...


*kicks down door* you, my friend, are about to have the experience of a 2-am, caffeine-induced, sleep-deprived, Youtube-mashup-powered review ramble from yours truly.


arguably the best introduction to a review I've seen

*glares in show-don't-tell*


hey I can't show every second of what's going on, the novel would be 180k like my first one was

what is in the barn that motivates the characters to hang out there? I have been in barns before and did not particularly enjoy the experience? but I am a city slicker, in all fairness so I have a hard time imagining why people would just sit in there unless they were safer in there or there were other attractions in there. This could totally be personal preference but it was somewhat striking for me and probably would be for other urban readers.


they needed somewhere to house eight people and smuggle a dragonling so that nobody would see the dragonling lol there isn't a specific appeal to the barn, it's just they got permission from a kind farmer to use their barn to sleep in


also to sort of fire back your question at you (haha sorry I know I know YOU'RE the one asking questions), are you suggesting the evaluation of whether I have too many characters because it's confusing, or because you're concerned about my handling of them (this sounds so defensive I'm so sorry I don't know how to word it differently this is a genuine question I promise)? You make it sound like the latter, which I'm perfectly happy with managing them all (it's actually perfectly fine for me, but if it's really confusing for the reader, then I'd be concerned!), but I just wanted to clarify!

At the very least, I hope some of this rambling made you smile


I laughed the moment I saw the introduction haha you succeeded there

thank you for your reviews!! you're too kind about my writing asjdklajfk but I do really appreciate your critiques of it <3 it gives me lots to think about!!



Tuckster says...


I'm so glad I was helpful and made you smile! I am very bad with names and...people in general, so I may not be the best basis, and like I said I jumped in way late, but I am having some trouble keeping track of all of them. Like I said, I'm probably on the extreme end, so if I'm the only person who's commented on it, you're probably fine to disregard. I just wanted to bring it to your attention in case it was something others had experienced as well!



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HarryHardy wrote a review...



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

Hi!! More chapters so quickly. *does happy dance*

First Impression: Lots of fun banter. I'm loving these resting scenes we are getting so far. With all the non stop action of the previous ones these have been welcome...and as a bonus we are building up their personalities even more. Also that was totally Jax wasn't it? Guess I'll read part 2 and find out.

Anyway let's get right to it,

Ever since Ember had blustered about how she wanted to go to Chromium, Rowan had been sitting on it. And the more they thought about it, the more sense it seemed to make, especially with the Grey Masks on their tail.


Very true.

Ember rolled over to swat his curls. “Stars and seas, you sound like a terrible combination of Mishal and a poet. It’s disgusting.”


Definitely a terrifying combination that.

“At least your life would never be boring, constantly tormenting one another,” Rowan pointed out. They didn’t expect it to bring Cassius comfort, and they were not disappointed as Cassius flipped back over onto his stomach and glowered at all of them.


Valid point by Rowan. And this whole exchange is pure gold. The conversation is so natural and just written really well.

The side door of the barn slid open and Enoch stepped inside. The four of them went quiet as he approached, and he squinted at them. “What are the four of you conspiring about behind everyone’s backs?”


At least is looks like he didn't attempt to eavesdrop which is always a good thing.

Alanna tilted her head. “What kind of activity?”

Enoch’s frown grew grim. “Summermount soldiers. It never bodes well when the westerners set foot in the north.”


Doesn't make too much sense here for him to be vague and say "strange activity" and then later explain about the soldiers. He probably should have straight up said soldiers.

It was hard to make their way towards market without staring at the retinue of Summermount soldiers, who were being led by a group who looked to be an envoy from Glacier’s Keep, bearing the crest of their kingdom.


Now what could they possibly be upto?

The entourage from Summermount, with their red tunics draped in long, dark chainmail, and burnished metal breastplates with the emblem of a glowing ruby, looked rather out of place. They stood out like blood on snow and did not look particularly dressed for the weather. Their pointed helmets did not appear to provide any warmth or shelter from the cold, though it was not so harsh now, they looked cold. Many had arms bared and were hunched forward, trying to shrink into themselves to retain their warmth. They all carried either a set of a curved, deadly blade that Rowan knew not the name of, and a red and gold buckler, or the shield alongside a spear with a blade at the point, polished and glistening.


Lovely description. Very interesting sword design too. Curved blades are a lot of fun to play around with.

Their gaze caught on a figure across the thoroughfare with a drawn expression, leading a majestic though tired and damp Clydesdale, and who was watching the soldiers with a frown. He was dressed in a warm, woollen cloak dyed black, and hid what weapons or possessions he may have had.

And Rowan recognised both horse and rider.


Almost a 100% sure that's Jax.

Aaand that's it for this one. Lemme run over to the next one right now.

Overall: A really well written piece as always. Nothing that I can spot. The only things that my spell check is picking up appears to be because you're using British English. And the plot is going on nicely.

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

Stay Safe
Harry





"You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it."
— We Bought A Zoo