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Children with Stars in their Veins (Chapter 4.2)

by mellifera


Cassius had barely started eating in the empty kitchen when the warning bells went off.

In the thirteen years he had lived in the Citadel, he had only heard the warning bells ring thrice. The Chronicler’s Guild was a peaceful place, they had no reason to go off more often.

He dropped the pastry he was holding, a meagre but lazy breakfast because Cassius didn’t have the patience to make food if he woke up after his parents had left for their respective duties. There was no use going back to change into proper clothes, and it wasn’t like everyone hadn’t seen him in pyjamas before.

As he ran out, he slid on only a pair of boots and his warm, woollen jacket. Then he rushed out the door and made straight for the gathering hall.

The hallways were bustling with light and, on rounding one corner, he was nearly taken out by a line of the Citadel’s fighters. He skid to a halt, scrambling back against the cold stone wall as they rushed past. The Chronicler’s Guild didn’t have many warriors, they were historians, not knights, after all. But that didn’t mean they were defenceless.

Not that anyone could convince him to grab a blade with a ten-foot pole. The whole fighting thing seemed like too much work, and what was the point of it anyway? Who was going to attack them?

He’d even seen Mishal pass out from overexertion in a training session once. Why would anyone do that to themselves?

The grand, mahogany wood doors lined with black iron to the gathering hall were open, and he heard a great cacophony from inside. He slipped inside, and paused, surveying the mess before him.

There were multiple groups clumped up, of scholars and the professors and, well, those who weren’t fighters. The giant tapestries depicting great battles, great loves, and great stories on the wall, that spoke of history inlaid in fabric, seemed to quiver as if reacting to the buzzing atmosphere around the hall. Near the fireplace, big enough that two people stacked on top of one another would be able to fit in its gaping mouth, Margaretta spoke with a grim expression to people with their backs turned to Cassius. Her hair was pulled back tight, and the thick collar of her coat rose around her neck and shoulders.

On the right, he spotted the rest of the Six. They were all dressed, unlike him, but had any of them been sneaking around at midnight? No. They’d gotten sleep, had been responsible. Gross.

He trotted over to them. Isadora would know what was going on, and if she didn’t, one of them had to. Ember had probably gotten up early, because she was weird like that, so maybe she knew.

Now would be the perfect time to tell them about what he heard too.

Unfortunately, neither Isadora nor Ember was the first to notice him, Mishal was. He eyed him with that suspicious, judge-y, annoying look he had always skulking around the corner, waiting to bestow upon whoever crossed his path.

“Are you in your pyjamas?” Mishal asked.

“Shut up,” he replied with sharp infliction. He stuck his tongue out for extra measure, scowling.

Mishal rolled his eyes, like he was some Pretentious Adult who could do that and pretend to be Mature and Experienced. At least it meant the situation wasn’t dire, if Mishal wasn’t on edge.

“What’s going on anyway?” he asked, turning from the big bother to Isadora, who had an arm around Alanna.

Alanna didn’t look frightened or upset, but she leaned into the gesture nonetheless. Further highlighting the point that nothing seemed to be too bad.

“Someone spotted a grown dragon near the village,” Isa said. “They’re making sure it doesn’t come any closer.”

Honestly, Cassius barely registered anything Isadora said after “dragon”. His eyes widened, and he glanced away. There was a clear path towards the door, and he was fast. There was absolutely no force in all of Stellarsyl that would stop him from seeing a dragon with his own eyes.

Except there was, because as soon as he began to run, an arm wrapped around his waist. “Oh no you don’t, scoundrel,” Mishal said, pulling him back to the group and securing a hold around him.

“Let me go!” he cried, kicking where he thought Mishal’s knees were. “You ruffian, let me go!

“Not so you can catch death with your own stupidity!” Mishal snapped. He didn’t relent in the slightest.

Stupid Mishal and his stupid training and how stupidly strong he was!

Ember had her arms crossed and she frowned at the sight before her, though he honestly couldn’t tell if she was directing the look at him or Mishal. Rowan was sitting in a chair that probably hadn’t been there before, leaning against one arm of the chair with their legs thrown across the other. They were wearing their tall, pointy hat with their hair twisted into what looked like a rope.

“Cassius,” Isadora said. She let go of Alanna to approach him and crouch in front of him.

That seemed demeaning, he wasn’t that short. He just hadn’t hit his growth spurt yet. It wasn’t his fault Isa was so tall.

“I know you love dragons and seeing one up close would be like a dream come true, but it’s a wild creature.” She grabbed his wrists so he couldn’t pummel Mishal with them, even though he probably could hit Mishal with a feather for the same effect. “They’re feral. It’s dangerous. You have to stay here for your own safety. Leave this to the experts, who know what they’re doing.”

“But I do know what I’m doing!” he protested. “I probably know more about the dragon than anyone swinging a pointy sword does!”

Rowan glanced up. “But they have ground experience, Raz. You can read all the books in the world about dragons, but experience outweighs that by tons.”

Heat spiked in his chest and his face grew hot. He yanked his wrists away from Isadora. “Like you wouldn’t love to be out there right now!” he shouted. “I bet none of them have ever seen a dragon in their life!” He kicked at Mishal’s knees again, and at least this time, heard a pained intake of breath. “Dragons used to have bonds with people! They used to work together, used to carry people through the air and they were given care and a home in return! There used to be a whole society for dragons and their keepers!”

“Those are just stories, Cassius,” Mishal said. His arm tightened enough that it almost hurt.

Isadora smiled sadly. “Real or not, that hasn’t happened for a very, very long time. If dragons and humans got along once, it has long since been forgotten.”

Mishal snorted. “Society is too enamoured by the idea of exploitative profits and killing beautiful things for something like that to ever rise again,” he said. “The magical properties alone—”

“Shut up!” Cassius began to wrestle against Mishal’s arm furiously. “Shut up! Shut up!” He began to hit Mishal’s arm with his fists. He hated, hated, when Mishal was so convinced he was so smart.

See how many fancy words I know! He tried to wriggle out from Mishal’s grip. See how many big words I can use so you don’t understand what I’m saying!

“Let him go,” Ember finally said, expression set like stone. “Raz, if Stormy wasn’t stopping you, one of the defenders would. You’d get in trouble.”

“Emb—”

“Let him go.”

He almost fell over when Mishal released him. Ember reached out to grab his arm, a little harshly but her hands were beginning to toughen from blacksmith and weapons training. She slung an arm around his shoulders and jabbed him in the ribs.

Cassius kicked her in the foot. She tugged on one of his curls and he yelped. “All right, you win!”

Ember rolled her eyes. “Pansy.”

“Bully!”

“Pushover. Shut up, you said I won.”

He was fairly certain that Ember had her arms around his shoulders to trap him, but at least she wasn’t grabbing him like Mishal. She was right anyway, he was fast, but he knew he wasn’t that fast. Dumb logic. He wanted to see the dragon.

“What’s so interesting about dragons anyway?” Alanna asked, as if sensing the danger of him running off had been doused. “They’re big lizards with wings and sharp teeth that can eat whole villages and burn crops!”

“Not all dragons breathe fire,” Ember said. Which was definitely not something she had read about. She’d probably picked it up from one of his rambles.

He waved his hand frantically. “Yeah! And not all dragons are like lizards, lots of mountain and cold-weather dragons have feathers to keep them warm!” He wriggled out from Ember’s grasp so he could use both hands to gesture. “The ones in the hotter, dry regions, like the Ruby Desert, they can breathe fire! Cold-weather dragons are built for cold, why would they need fire?”

Isadora was smiling behind her hand, but before he could continue, the sound of a glass clinking echoed through the hall.

Margaretta was still standing at the fireplace, but now some of the defenders Cassius had seen running down the hall had joined her.

The chatter, the general cacophony, in the hall died down.

“I apologise for the rude awakening and interruption of your duties, it seems the dragon isn’t nearly as close as suspected. It was spotted over the forest, but it likely resides closer to the eastern mountains beyond that,” Margaretta said. She didn’t seem like she was shouting, but her voice carried throughout the hall. Magic, probably, but he didn’t know what words you would use to amplify your voice yet. “That said, we’ll be keeping a watch out in case the beast returns. There will also be a curfew. No one is allowed out before eight in the morning or after eight at night. As the light lasts longer, or the threat is resolved, the curfew will be adjusted. Dismissed.”

“Ugh,” Rowan said. “Walking under the stars privilege is revoked? What a hoax. It’s not a giant owl.”

“No,” Cassius agreed woefully, the weight of disappointment that he wouldn’t get to see the dragon himself beginning to smother him. This day sucked and it wasn’t even noon. “Dragons aren’t even nocturnal.”



word count:

1,738




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14 Reviews


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Fri Nov 22, 2019 7:28 pm
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PearlFire wrote a review...



Hi mellifera, this is PearlFire for a review. I saw this in the green room and went back to read the entire thing, so I'll talk about the entire story so far.

First of all, I love how you've fleshed out this story. The characters are relatable and I can see myself talking to them. A favorite thing of mine is how you keep describing Rowan as they. The only thing I want more is descriptions of the characters. I'm forming my conclusions, but the way I view your character might be different than the way you view them.

As for the Latin, I'm taking a Latin class right now and can translate some of the Latin in your story. I love how you take an ancient language and use it for your own. If you ever need to find a Latin word, I would suggest William Whitaker's Words. It's a Latin search engine that can help you find a word.

I'm a nut for folklore and the supernatural. I prefer shapeshifters and pegasi, but dragons come in at a close second. I love how you mention how diverse the different species of dragons are and how not all of them breathe fire. The only thing I would like different here is if Cassius saw a warrior going out to find the dragon. Would they look more like a woodsman or a knight? Would he be riding a Percheron, or would a Hunter be his preferred breed? I love horses and love all the details about them.

Hope this didn't sound mean or harsh, I love how this story is coming out. I'll be looking for the next chapter.




mellifera says...


hey!

The only thing I want more is descriptions of the characters.


absolutely! I've been pretty vague about appearances, which is mostly because I hadn't really found a good way to describe them? I try to sneak it in as much as possible, but doing a detailed list seemed off considering they all know each other and see each other every day? But I know I've been abstract about it, so I'll definitely try to rectify that!

Oh, thank you!! that's awesome (I know nothing about latin lmao I've been researching latin phrases and I'm using a translator which seems pretty accurate as far as running the translations through a few times and keeping it coherent, but again I know very well)! I'll definitely add it to my bookmarks, thank you :D

There's actually... no warriors? They're a peaceful organisation, a guild of historians, so while I imagine there to be some who are inclined to learn how to fight in case of emergencies, there's no actual knights or warriors. I would absolutely go into detail about describing the horses (I also love horses!!), but the pov is from inside? So,, the horses wouldn't be inside the building haha. I'll keep that in mind for future reference, but I'm not sure how I would implement it here!

Thank you so much for reading and reviewing, I really appreciate it!! thank you again for the latin suggestion, I'm 100% sure I'll be utilising that :D



PearlFire says...


Ok, I just imagined them running into a courtyard, then going into another building.



mellifera says...


whoops! sorry for that confusion then, I'll try to be more specific about location and stuff like that in the future!



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Tue Nov 19, 2019 3:47 pm
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aerie says...



Hiya, I just wanted to stop by and tell you how much I adore this story! I don't think I've ever clicked so fast to see an updated chapter before. All the characters feel so real and fleshed out, and I really enjoy that. They feel like real live people, with real personalities. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I love this story and the characters, and I'm really excited for what's to come of this amazing adventure!




mellifera says...


!! thank you so much!! I'm having so much fun bringing them to life and hearing that I'm doing a good job?? that makes me really happy to hear :D

thanks for reading <3



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Tue Nov 19, 2019 1:48 pm
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JabberHut wrote a review...



OMFG I LOVED THIS SO MUCH.

First off, I find it hilarious how this ended with Cassius using a big word. After ALL THE COMPLAINING about Mishal and his BIG WORDS and ADULTYNESS, Cassius throws out a monstrous word like "nocturnal." How freaking perfect. XD

I actually really REALLY really reallyas d;lfujalskdfja;sdf LOVED seeing this side of Cassius. He's such a child -- COMPLETELY RELATABLE CHILD -- and he has this deep passion for dragons. Like omg how adorable is this. AND THE ENDS THE CHAPTER proving to the reader that he does know things about dragons. Even Ember learned things from Cassius about dragons. CASSIUS IS A DRAGON KNOWLEDGE BANK YEEEEEEES.

I love dragons. I CAN'T wait to see more dragons omfg.

I can't stop thinking about this either, but I have a thing for Mishal now. Can I have him? He's so beautifully self-confident and smart and strong and I want that man--

So I'm not gonna lie, when the emergency bells rang, I IMMEDIATELY thought, "oh damn now his parents are gonna see him and chew him out for the PJs and pastry." Somehow, it was made better when it was Mishal who did it instead. I love Mishal with all my heart--

I'M JUST. SO. IN LOVE WITH THIS CHAPTER ?? Not only do we get delicious character exposure for Cassius and Mishal, we also get a butt ton of surprise dragon lore/myth. I'm so incredibly curious as to how dragons will play a part in this, and the fact that there are different kinds of dragons makes me so haaaaappy. I LOVE DRAGOONNNSSSS.

The warning/emergency procedure was definitely interesting to see, and I like that they all gather in that Gathering Hall (aha I see why it's called that) to get the what's-what about things. I also imagine that this is simply a warning bell, as it was described, and a more urgent signal might exist later, like "EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY" or "EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF" alarm. Of course, can you blame me for seeing a room filled to the brim with innocent people and wondering how easy it would be for a bad guy to storm the place and massacre everyone? OH THE TIMES WE LIVE IN.

Also, I wanted to make sure to mention how beautiful Rowan was here. Of course they'd find a chair to sit in and so perfectly as well AND THE HAT. HE HAS THE HAT.

And Ember's personality also came out here. In fact, her relationship with Mishal was also kinda spotted here since he let Cassius go at her request, and Mishal wouldn't do that without confidence. The fact that Ember and Cassius wrestled so childishly to Ember's victory is just so freaking adorable. These three, man. I swear.

I so thoroughly enjoyed this chapter and my review is so all over the place but I freaking lvoed this omfg

Jabber, the One and Only!




mellifera says...


I'm sO GLAD YOU LIKED THIS CHAPTER I had so much fun writing it?? probably my favourite bit so far???

OH YEAH Cassius doing exactly what Mishal does but not noticing? YOU BET

yeah I, , might have projected a little bit because of my love for dragons, but you know. it wORKS ;D

Of course, can you blame me for seeing a room filled to the brim with innocent people and wondering how easy it would be for a bad guy to storm the place and massacre everyone? OH THE TIMES WE LIVE IN.


OH YEAH I definitely was like "this is a kinda weird procedure they could be taken out super easily" but I was too lazy to come up with a structure for it and also I just think that nobody at the Chronicler's Guild thinks they'll be attacked like that. why would anyone attack a bunch of historians? who could say?

as always!! thank you for much for your review!! I say the notification this morning and I got real excited!! <333



JabberHut says...


GOOD POINT. They probably don't have any reason to have such advanced procedures, so that definitely makes sense!!

IT'S MY ABSOLUTE PLEASURE!! I get equally excited when you ping me the next segment! <3.14




I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters.
— Solomon Short