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Children with Stars in their Veins (Chapter 41.2)

by mellifera


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language.

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

*

Hypatis tapped Cassius on the shoulder as the others began to ready for the caravan, incoming in just under an hour.

“Hi,” Hypatis said, flashing him a smile as they ducked away from the others, not quite out of eyesight.

“Hi,” Cassius said, breathless all of a sudden. He was glad for the cold in this moment, because it meant his hands couldn’t possibly be sweaty.

It was hard to hold Hypatis’ gaze because of how badly his stomach was fluttering, but at the same time, Cassius couldn’t pull himself away. Hypatis was still smiling, but it was rueful now, as he gently reached up and brushed his fingertips against Cassius’ cheek. Cassius blinked, his breath leaving him all at once now, completely.

“I’m sorry we’re parting so soon,” Hypatis said softly. “You’re really sure that you don’t all want to come with us? There is safety in numbers. Chromium’s pretty far.”

The lightness that made him feel airy turned heavy and sour, weighing down in his chest and his stomach at the mention of Chromium. Alanna hadn’t said anything yet, and so neither had he, but it was hanging above them like an unwanted raincloud.

“Are you sure you want to be going towards the contention point?” he countered. “Summermount and Glacier’s Keep don’t exactly have a good history together, and you’ll be walking right along with them if you go.”

That earned him a smile. “Caddy and I will be fine, though I will miss you. But I didn’t pull you aside to talk about my sister.” Something darkened in Hypatis’ eyes, for just a second, before it vanished.

Cassius’ face flushed and he laughed nervously. “Uh, and what did you pull me aside for?”

Hypatis’ cheeks went red. “I wanted to give you a going away present,” he said.

Had Hypatis not kissed him then, he might have rolled his eyes, for as sweet as it was, it was horribly cheesy. Also, the eyeroll might have been Ember’s influence, so maybe he wouldn’t have.

It was much better than the time he had tried with Ori once, to see what it was like, and Hypatis was a much more active and pressing partner. But it was still nothing like the way Isadora had described it. It was warm, and damp, and his heartbeat thundered in his ears, but there was nothing especially magical or life-changing about it.

Hypatis pulled away, but he was still close enough that Cassius could feel his breath ghosting over his face. He kept his eyes shut, savouring in the way his face warmed and the thrill rushing through his veins.

From somewhere nearby, Cadelia whistled. Closely followed by Alanna’s cries of, “Ugh!”

He pulled sharply away with another nervous giggle but found that Hypatis was also chuckling under his breath. His cheeks were red as Cassius was sure his own were.

“I think that might be our cue,” Hypatis said. He took one of Cassius’ hands and patted it with his own. “I know I’m not leaving this instant, but I still want to say it now, properly. Goodbye, Cassius.” He smiled. “You’re an enigma.”

Cassius frowned. “Is that a bad thing?”

Hypatis shook his head. “It’s an interesting thing.”

He smiled, a little uncertain, and ducked his chin. “Goodbye, Hypatis.”

Then Hypatis was gone, back beside Cadelia. His sister slung an arm around his shoulders, shot a glance over her brother’s shoulder towards Cassius, and winked. His face heated and he tried to hide it by covering it with his hands.

Footsteps crunched in the damp grass as someone slid up next to him. “That one for the poetry books?”

He kicked in Ember’s direction, but with his hands covering his eyes, he missed by a mile. She laughed as he dropped his hands and glared, half-hearted, at her. Then he began laughing with her.

“Any better than Ori?” she asked.

“Way better.” He frowned. “I hope I wasn’t dreadful at it. What if I was terrible at it?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. Isn’t it weird? Smushing your mouths together?”

He wrinkled his nose. “Well, yeah, when you put it like that.” He glanced back towards the others again, and found Alanna watching him with the kind of intensity made worse by what a striking, icy blue her eyes were. He swallowed and ducked his head. “Hey, Em. Jax… uh, he told us where Isadora and Mishal are.”

When he glanced back, she was frowning at him. “Sure, I know, what about it?”

“You don’t want to see Belle and Mishal again?”

She looked towards the ground and toed a loose rock. “I do, but they’ll be off going to the ruins. Jax said so, remember? Who knows how long they’d be there, or how much effort it would take to try to find them. Besides, that’s like, a whole season’s ride or something with the chance the Grey Masks will come back. Enoch’s tough but there’s a bunch of them, isn’t there? Chromium is closer. Why?” Her frown deepened. “You want to go there, instead of coming with me.”

“I didn’t say that,” he protested. “I was asking.”

“But you’ve thought about it.” She glanced up and sighed. “We knew they were going to be gone a while. We’ve never had a chance like this. I’ve wanted to see Chromium since forever, you know that. Home is gone, only the Sun and the Moon know where our parents have gotten too, and maybe they took the road west to Chromium. I don’t know. I know Chromium’s got the best smiths and the hottest forges in Stellarsyl.” She bit her lip, and suddenly, she looked vulnerable. “Cassius, if anyone is going to know about strange fire magic, I doubt I’ll find it anywhere but Chromium.”

The pieces clicked. He let out a sharp exhale. No wonder she wanted to go to Chromium, only why hadn’t she just said that in the first place? “A thousand years ago, I would have told you to climb up the mountains and see if you could find yourself a phoenix.”

She smiled. “It might be hard to learn from an extinct bird.”

They shuffled back towards the others, but as soon as they had drawn closer, Alanna glanced up. She looked determined. Cassius’ chest contracted.

“I’m going to the City of Bells,” Alanna said, and glanced towards him. “I’m going back to Belle and Stormy.”

Ember looked taken aback, and even Ori raised their eyebrows. “But we’re going to Chromium,” Ember said.

Alanna shook her head. “You’re going to Chromium. But I don’t want to go there. I want to see Mishal and Isadora again, and we know where they are, and the Citadel is gone, and Mishal will keep us safe.”

“Hang on, we can’t split up,” Ori said, frowning deeply now. “The Grey Masks will pick us off like a magpie spotting a silver bracelet.”

“Or not. Maybe it’ll be harder for them if we split up,” Alanna shot back.

Ember crossed her arms over her chest. “But we’re not splitting up, we’re going to Chromium.”

Alanna’s nose wrinkled. “I’m not going to Chromium. I’m going to Isadora and Mishal. And I’ll probably find our parents on the way, and I’ll tell your mums what you’ve done and that you didn’t come back when you could.”

“Enoch was going to take us to Chromium. You can’t simply go to the City of Bells, not alone,” Ori said.

Cassius wrapped his arms around himself and Ember side-eyed him. She squinted. “You knew about this, didn’t you? That’s why you brought this up before. You want to go to the City of Bells, not Chromium. You want to go with Alanna.”

He glanced over towards Alanna. She watched him with wide eyes, hopeful eyes. She looked small, smaller than he remembered. She’d done her hair back into a plaited bun, sloppily, but he knew it was one of the ways Isadora used to pin her hair back. She’d tried to recreate it.

His heart burned and he looked away. “No,” he said, almost too soft to be considered words at all. “No, I’ll come with you to Chromium.”

Footsteps squelched in the ground. Danica was stepping towards them, moving away from Hypatis and Caddy who looked surprised but curious, watching her walk away, then exchanging a look.

“Hypatis and Caddy can look after themselves,” Danica said. She crouched down, not low enough to drag anything along the muddied ground and held out a hand to Alanna. “If it is truly your wish, I’ll take you south to reunite with your family.”

Alanna’s eyes were glistening with tears. She sniffled and nodded at Danica, then threw her arms around Danica’s neck. She whispered something Cassius couldn’t hear.

Ori looked bewildered. “That’s it? We’re really splitting up?”

Ember’s shoulders had tightened, and she stared at Alanna like she’d been hit in the teeth. “Yeah,” she said, voice thin and drawn. “Where are you going?”

They looked between the two groups. Cassius had little doubt in his mind where they were going to go, and it came as no surprise when they tilted their head and said, “I… I really would like to see the ruins.”

Enoch, leaning on the barn nearby, crossed his arms over his chest. “Well,” he said. “This is the worst fucking idea I think I’ve ever heard.”



word count:

1,565




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Fri Sep 25, 2020 12:22 am
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JabberHut wrote a review...



LOL ENOCH, I SWEAR. That was a golden finish omg.

But also, why won't he put in his adult-ish perspective?? Clearly he has no ounce of mentor/parent/guardian in him if he has no idea how to talk to them and convince them of a reasonable plan. XD Just swears under his breath.

but omg this is not how I thought they'd split up (obviously), but I'm kind of excited that it is?! I still don't really... understand why Cassius wants to go to Chromium except for the fact that he's scared? Like his anxiety is preventing him from really thinking about anything other than staying safe? I still would feel like Artemesa would have an opinion on that, and Cassius would be the only one to know her opinion if she ever voiced it. Though to be fair, I thought Cassius felt pressured to say Chromium too, so the fact that he didn't back out at the end to go with Alanna tells me that he really doesn't know what to do, doesn't want to admit making a bad choice, doesn't want to hurt his friends, knows and hates that they're not all sticking together, and is just overall... sad. :( Poor Cassius is going through a lot of emotional turmoil right now.

but I mean cassius3

YOU'RE AN ENIGMA

btw best worst pickup line I've heard in a long time, this is so adorable. I love that this moment happened between the two of them. It was obviously a long-time coming with proper foreshadowing to prepare us for the long-awaited kiss we've longed for. And the description for it omg. XD It was so Cassius. Like it sounded wonderful and gross at the same time, and the narration even said that nothing magical really happened and that leaves me to wonder if maybe that means this wasn't the ship that was going to happen but also he could just be somewhat reasonable about it like kisses really aren't that cool what's the big deal?! I don't know! It could be taken either way.

Ember is my spirit animal. "Smushing your mouths together" MOST ACCURATE DEPICTION EVER. totally with you, girlfriend, I don't even get it.

Also, can I just say that the way this exchange happened between Ember and Alanna was really well done?! Alanna (bless her, she had SO much courage) says straight-up that she doesn't want to go to Chromium and Ember straight-out says that she wants to and it's like... the butting of heads but it's not like a bad tension (to me anyway). They're young children who are like "well this is what I want" and they're just like trying to figure out how to make that happen.

UGH though, I wanted to CRY when Cassius didn't back her up. Like there was a brief couple of seconds where ONLY Alanna wanted to go find Isadora and I actually feared that she would be alone?! I was like... no. no mell wouldn't do that, right?! But I am both thankful and surprised that Danica volunteered to help her out and I can't pinpoint why she would do this. I don't recall Danica having much interest in their party, and I don't recall her expressing dislike over the idea of traveling with her party, but that all doesn't mean that I completely forgot Danica's goals. (Curse long breaks! *shakes fist*) So I'm just gonna go with it, and I'm so happy that Alanna won't be alone. BUT THEEEEEN Rowan says they want to ho with Alanna too and I just. AHHHHHHHHHH IS THIS GOING TO HAPPEN TOO OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG

Anyway. I'm PRETTY excited about how you split up their party, but I'm dreadfully sad that you split up their party. So there's that.

I've noticed I"ve been very sloppy about concluding my reviews and I'm super sorry about that. I run out of things to say and then save and am like well, if I have more to add, I can just add it, but then I don't and then leave it open-ended-like and I'm sorry. But I really enjoyed this chapter again and I love how it progressed. I'm VERY intrigued about how the parties will go now that they're all split up even further. I'm SO worried because I don't know they're children but this does open up more focus on relationships because there are fewer to jumble in each party and I like that. :D




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Wed Sep 16, 2020 6:22 am
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niteowl wrote a review...



Hello again mellifera! I'm going to tackle this chapter the same way I did the last one, writing my thoughts as I go along then ending with any overall thoughts.

So...Hypatis is stroking Cassius's cheek and clearly upset about having to leave him and yet Cassius thinks he doesn't like him? I'd say Cassius is dumb but I also wouldn't believe a guy would actually like me back so I can't talk.

The lightness that made him feel airy turned heavy and sour, weighing down in his chest and his stomach at the mention of Chromium.


This sentence is awkward, but I feel like this is one of those times I don't have a great suggestion for it. Maybe something like "The mention of Chromium killed Cassius's momentary joy."

Had Hypatis not kissed him then, he might have rolled his eyes, for as sweet as it was, it was horribly cheesy. Also, the eyeroll might have been Ember’s influence, so maybe he wouldn’t have.


Legit LOL'ed here.

She shrugged. “I don’t know. Isn’t it weird? Smushing your mouths together?”


And again. I'm guessing she's some sort of aro/ace character? Though even as a non-ace person, it is sort of weird when you think of it that way.

He glanced back towards the others again, and found Alanna watching him with the kind of intensity made worse by what a striking, icy blue her eyes were. He swallowed and ducked his head.


Awkward sentence and also striking icy blue eyes are pretty cliche. Sometimes cliches work, but I feel like her eye color doesn't add anything to this scene.

“You don’t want to see Belle and Mishal again?”


Perhaps this has been explained in previous chapters, but it seems like characters have multiple names/nicknames and it's odd. Isadora has been Isa and now Belle, Cassius referred to Alanna as "Little Pika", and Alanna called Cassius "Raz". These nicknames aren't super intuitive so I'm getting a bit lost as a new reader.

Now I'm trying to figure out who's right in this idea of are they safer together if they split up or stay together. It seems like staying together might make them a bigger target for the Grey Masks while splitting up would confuse them, but since I don't really know what the Grey Masks are or how they operate, I'm not sure.

And I’ll probably find our parents on the way, and I’ll tell your mums what you’ve done and that you didn’t come back when you could.”


I feel like this line would be more of an emotional gut punch then it's treated as, given that it sounds like they've been looking for their parents for a while.

So...was Danica going to go with Hypatis and Cadelia but is now changing her mind to go with Alanna? And why is it considered safe for Hypatis and Cadelia to go off on their own but not Alanna?

“Enoch was going to take us to Chromium. You can’t simply go to the City of Bells, not alone,” Ori said.


Given this line, I was assuming that Enoch was either dead or MIA, so it was surprising for him to pop up at the end. I'm not sure if I just didn't realize he was there or if the characters also didn't know he was back. If he has been with the group the whole time, maybe he should be written about in the present tense?

One thing I'm a little confused about is what species these characters are. The last chapter had squawking and nipping and preening, which made me think they were some sort of bird/human hybrid, but here people have hands and kiss and such so I think they're human. Maybe it was just Artemesa that's a bird? What happened to her? Is she not part of this group?

Overall, I'm enjoying this story and I hope to get to reviewing future chapters soon, though I really need to go to bed now. Keep writing! :D




mellifera says...


So...Hypatis is stroking Cassius's cheek and clearly upset about having to leave him and yet Cassius thinks he doesn't like him? I'd say Cassius is dumb but I also wouldn't believe a guy would actually like me back so I can't talk.


in Cassius' defence, he was thinking that before Hypatis kissed him, but also, I would do this as well, and Cassius honestly might too, so... I have no excuses xD

And again. I'm guessing she's some sort of aro/ace character? Though even as a non-ace person, it is sort of weird when you think of it that way.


she's not! but she is also 13 here and does not dedicate time to thinking about romance so the concept is still pretty weird to her

So...was Danica going to go with Hypatis and Cadelia but is now changing her mind to go with Alanna? And why is it considered safe for Hypatis and Cadelia to go off on their own but not Alanna?


Hypatis and Cadelia are both older and about to join a caravan that is specifically going to the place they're travelling to! Alanna and Ori would have been just going alone, which, considering they're being hunted (and Hypatis and Caddy are not) and are 10 and 15 respectively, would be a terrible idea. It is,,, kind of haphazard, I realise. I blame blizzard during LMS for coming when it did :p

Given this line, I was assuming that Enoch was either dead or MIA, so it was surprising for him to pop up at the end. I'm not sure if I just didn't realize he was there or if the characters also didn't know he was back. If he has been with the group the whole time, maybe he should be written about in the present tense?


I wrote the sentence in the past tense because Ori was referring to the fact that had been planning on going to Chromium, and not because anything had happened to Enoch? I do mention Enoch briefly in Ember's dialogue? I can try to mention him earlier though, to clear up confusion!

(also I had mentioned this before, but ye, Artemesa is a dragon! everyone else mentioned so far are humans, and she's not in the scene because they're hiding her in the barn!)


again, thank you so much for your reviews, I really do appreciate them!! <3 these later chapters are somewhat messy, admittedly, because I ran out of outline and was writing them fast for LMS, but hopefully they're not too all over the place!



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HarryHardy wrote a review...



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

Hi! I'm Knight Hardy here on a mission to ensure that all works on YWS has at least two reviews. You will probably never see this but....Imma do this anyway.

First Impression: OH. MY. GOD. Drama Level 9000. And they split apart way faster than I thought it was going to happen. Hmm...the six are now three groups of 2. Well this gets very interesting now doesn't it. Can't wait to see what happens when they actually try to leave. That should be an emotional scene.

Anyway let's get right to it,

“Hi,” Cassius said, breathless all of a sudden. He was glad for the cold in this moment, because it meant his hands couldn’t possibly be sweaty.


Classic.

The lightness that made him feel airy turned heavy and sour, weighing down in his chest and his stomach at the mention of Chromium. Alanna hadn’t said anything yet, and so neither had he, but it was hanging above them like an unwanted raincloud.


Incoming Drama detected.

Hypatis’ cheeks went red. “I wanted to give you a going away present,” he said.


*coughs violently*

From somewhere nearby, Cadelia whistled. Closely followed by Alanna’s cries of, “Ugh!”


Poor Alanna.

Footsteps crunched in the damp grass as someone slid up next to him. “That one for the poetry books?”


This part made me giggle far too much.

He wrinkled his nose. “Well, yeah, when you put it like that.” He glanced back towards the others again, and found Alanna watching him with the kind of intensity made worse by what a striking, icy blue her eyes were. He swallowed and ducked his head. “Hey, Em. Jax… uh, he told us where Isadora and Mishal are.”


And the drama begins.

“But you’ve thought about it.” She glanced up and sighed. “We knew they were going to be gone a while. We’ve never had a chance like this. I’ve wanted to see Chromium since forever, you know that. Home is gone, only the Sun and the Moon know where our parents have gotten too, and maybe they took the road west to Chromium. I don’t know. I know Chromium’s got the best smiths and the hottest forges in Stellarsyl.” She bit her lip, and suddenly, she looked vulnerable. “Cassius, if anyone is going to know about strange fire magic, I doubt I’ll find it anywhere but Chromium.”


She had a slightly exaggerated reaction there. Does she have to attack him like that about having thought about it? And she just jumped to conclusions very quickly there. It was a pretty innocent question for her to get so snappy.

Cassius wrapped his arms around himself and Ember side-eyed him. She squinted. “You knew about this, didn’t you? That’s why you brought this up before. You want to go to the City of Bells, not Chromium. You want to go with Alanna.”


This isn't the biggest leap of logic but it is scarily accurate by Ember.

“Hypatis and Caddy can look after themselves,” Danica said. She crouched down, not low enough to drag anything along the muddied ground and held out a hand to Alanna. “If it is truly your wish, I’ll take you south to reunite with your family.”


Wait those two are going to be going off alone?

They looked between the two groups. Cassius had little doubt in his mind where they were going to go, and it came as no surprise when they tilted their head and said, “I… I really would like to see the ruins.”


No surprises there.

Enoch, leaning on the barn nearby, crossed his arms over his chest. “Well,” he said. “This is the worst fucking idea I think I’ve ever heard.”


I second that notion Enoch.

Aaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Well this chapter definitely had a ton of drama. And it looks my prediction will be right and they will in fact be splitting up which is sad. So far its all holding together and some nice emotions being conveyed as well. Overall a great chapter as always.

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

Stay Safe
Harry





“Can a magician kill a man by magic?” Lord Wellington asked Strange. Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. “I suppose a magician might,” he admitted, “but a gentleman never could.”
— Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell