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Children with Stars in their Veins (Chapter 42)

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

*

[Ember]



The horses Danica scrounged money for and bought are beautiful. Tall, muscular creates with feathers on their legs and huge, snuffling noses. One was a glossy, deep russet bay who looked red in the sun, with a flowing black mane and kind eyes. The second was a pale grey, with a thin, glossy mane and patchy white fur, and was more lithe than the first.

It was easier to focus on how lovely the horses were than to think about what they were for.

Ember watched Danica and Enoch saddle them, her chest tight. Cassius was so close his shoulder pressed into hers.

“We should go talk to them, shouldn’t we?” Cassius asked.

She glanced to their right. Standing together, just as she and Cassius were, Ori and Alanna huddled like two people caught in the rain. But the rain had passed and left its mark on the land, turning it all the sludge, even days after. The skies were clear and blue without breeze, but the sun felt as though it held no warmth anymore.

That was the point, wasn’t it? She tightened her hand into a fist, and what she held in her palm dug into her flesh.

But she wasn’t going to let them off without saying anything. She set off towards Ori and Alanna, Cassius quickening to keep in step with her. She eyed him and saw that held was holding the box at his back, angling his wrist so it did not look so much like he was deliberately hiding something.

Ori watched them approached and smiled softly. Alanna still stared at the horses softly.

“Weren’t we just doing this?” they asked, tone light. “I don’t suppose Isadora and Mishal thought they’d have to wish us to be careful when they left, though.”

Cassius bent his head towards the ground. “I know we missed your birthday and didn’t even celebrate when we got here like we said. And if we had money… But we don’t.” He took his arm out from behind his back and offered it out to Ori. “It’s not a violin, but it’s not… nothing. Happy late birthday?”

“From both of us,” Ember added, pointedly. From the corner of her eyes, she saw Alanna had finally glanced over.

Ori took the box from Cassius’ hands. It was a rich mahogany wood, polished and lacquered to a perfectly smooth finish. It smelled of forest and sap and jasmine. Ori opened it, and a soft melody began to play. A smile spread across Ori’s face as their brows dipped forward. For a moment, Ember was worried they might cry.

They looked between her and Cassius. “This is beautiful. Where did you—” Their mouth twitched. “Is this where the two of you snuck off to in the middle of the night last night?”

She shrugged innocently and shared a look with Cassius. “Of course not. Do you like it?”

Ori laughed and shut the box with care. “I love it, of course I do. This is very sweet you two, thank you.”

She exhaled as silently as she could as Ori wrapped her and Cassius in a hug, pulling them both close. It was nothing like Mishal’s hug at all, but it broke her heart all the same. How had they come to this?

When she pulled away, she turned to Alanna, and this time held her gaze. “We didn’t forget about you.” She held out her hand and unfurled her fist. Resting neat as she’d found it was the pendant they’d grabbed for Alanna. A single piece of grey moonstone, in the shape of a teardrop, hung from a glistening silver chain that gathered in her palm like water.

Alanna’s eyes were wide, and her mouth parted, as she took the pendant slowly from Ember’s hand. She held it up to catch the midday light, and it winked like a droplet of water.

“It’s— I—” Alanna looked to Ember, then to Cassius, and back again to the pendant.

“I’m sorry for getting angry with you for wanting to see Stormy and Belle again,” she said. “I just don’t want to miss you too, is all.”

Alanna let the necklace fall gracefully into her other hand and smiled lightly. “I’m sorry I got angry with you for wanting to see Chromium. You really won’t come?”

She shook her head. “I’ve gotta do this. Just like you’ve got to go see Stormy and Belle. Tell them we said hi, and you all should come up to Chromium if Margaretta isn’t dragging anyone off on expeditions.”

Alanna laughed. It was wet. Tears were pooling her eyes, turning them a similar shade as the moonstone, if not for the arctic blue brightening them.

“I’m sorry too,” Cassius said, his voice quiet and small. “I wish it was different. I wish Isadora had come with Jax and we were splitting again.”

She sniffled and stepped towards him. Cassius pulled her into a hug and squeezed his eyes shut, and Ember could practically feel the pain that was radiating from him and Alanna both.

“Don’t you mean Isadora and Mishal?” Alanna asked, muffled by how she had nestled her face into Cassius’ shoulder.

It was so small it was barely visible, but Cassius smiled. “No, of course not. If he’s across Stellarsyl, I don’t have to hear him.”

Alanna smacked him on his shoulder, and he pretended to stagger backwards. “Even if he came here for me?

Cassius over-exaggerated a considerate frown. “I don’t know. That’s asking an awful lot, for me to know that he’s so close. I think I’d have to draw the line there for things I’d do for you.”

Ember joined in and tapped the back of Cassius’ head. With her hand. A little rougher than a tap. He yelped. “But you would have someone to torment, which you love. Oh, Cassius, just admit that you miss him.”

He rubbed the place she’d hit him and gave her a dubious look. “There’s a whole world of people to prank, why would I care who it was? He isn’t even all that fun to prank, it was only because he was so serious all the time.”

“I’ll tell him you miss him,” Ori said, arms folded over their chest and a glint to their dark eyes.

Cassius scowled. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“Well, you can’t stop them,” Alanna said. “And if they don’t, I will.”

“He won’t believe you anyway,” Cassius said, raising his nose into the air haughtily.

Ember snorted. “You look like a snooty lord.”

He bowed dramatically, eyes closed and eyebrows high, keeping his nose in the air. The light caught his curls, highlighting how pale they had gotten. “How dare you speak of someone of such excellency in that way. Why, I’ll have you thrown into the stocks, I will, you peasant.”

Alanna giggled into her hand and Ember laughed freely. Ori snickered as they shook their head, and Cassius just bowed again, exaggerated this time, as a player in a stage play would.

“Are the two of you ready to go?” Danica called. She was standing at the side of the bay, now saddled and bridled, and looked expectantly towards the four of them.

Ember sobered, as did everyone else. Alanna’s eyes were downcast, Cassius lost the humour in his expression.

“I can put the necklace on for you, if you’d like,” Ember said.

Alanna nodded sombrely. She gave Ember the pendant and turned around.

Ember drew it around Alanna’s neck and shoved aside her long and flowing hair. She clasped the chain together and let out a quick, full exhale. “There you go.” Alanna turned, and Ember smiled weakly at her. “It’s really pretty. Matches your eyes.”

Alanna reached up to her chest, where the pendant rested. “Thanks, Em,” she said. Then she stepped forward and wrapped her arms around Ember’s waist.

Since they had left, Alanna had grown almost to her height. It tracked since Isadora was rather tall, but even so, Ember wanted her to be small again, the littlest of the six of them. Her face was still round, but she looked older than she had when they’d left.

“Don’t grow too much ‘til we see each other again, okay?”

“No promises,” Alanna said, pulling away with a smile. Tears dripped from her eyelashes and she sniffled.

“Remember, Mishal doesn’t have me or Cassius around anymore, so if he starts getting too serious and focuses too hard on books, you’ll have to jolt him out of it,” Ember said grimly.

Alanna squinted, still smiling. “I’m not going to prank Mishal.”

“Then I guess his expression will be stuck in a frown one of these days permanently.”

She gave Alanna one last hug, as Ori and Cassius did the same. And then they were approaching the horses. Ori swung onto the grey as graceful as anything, legs lean and situationally only a little awkwardly on their mount. They patted the grey’s neck, and the horse bounced their head as if to nod.

Danica helped Alanna onto the bay. As Alanna settled onto her seat, she was openly crying now and seemingly doing her best to get herself situated despite it. Her nose had turned red, and she glanced back now towards Ember and Cassius.

Ember’s chest was tight. She smiled, best she could, as she felt warm tears slip down her own cheeks, and raised her hand in a wave.

Enoch came to stand behind her. She didn’t turn to him, but acknowledged his firm and steady presence behind her.

She reached down and fumbled for a moment until she found Cassius’ hand. She wrapped her own around it and squeezed, hard. Hard enough she could feel the bones shifting under her grip. But Cassius said nothing, did not even squeak in protest.

They stood there, watching, as Danica, who had mounted behind Alanna, turned the bay away. With a nudge of her heels, with Ori following close behind, they rode off towards the southern entrance to the Blessed Gates.

And she watched them, with Cassius at her side, until they disappeared. Just as they’d done with Isadora and Mishal.

She was unusually cold that night, but dreamt of lying on a mountainside in a bed of ashes under the full, warming beams of the sun. She awoke, feeling toasty, and she thought as she let out a sigh that she could see her breath in front of her, though it was not cold outside.



word count:

1,747




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Sat Sep 26, 2020 1:44 am
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JabberHut wrote a review...



IT WAS ORI'S BIRTHDAY?? (did I know that? i don't think we did)

Iiiiiiiii totally adore that we're acknowledging birthdays. So often, people kinda forget that this is a thing people celebrate. So having birthdays means time is passing, our characters are getting older (which is important because they're all so YOUNG), and as these characters get older, those blood ceremonies become more and more significant because a pattern will come up and people in general will be like uh?!????

So my excitement escalated quickly there. BUT IT'S ALL TRUE. I DO want to say that as a reader, it feels like all their birthdays are really close to each other, like within weeks of each other, but I feel like perhaps this journey should be taking longer to better space out the birthday celebrations? Or maybe just dates with chapter labels in general? I don't know, I just notice how we've seen a lot of birthdays and yet I can't really say how long it's been since chapter 1. XD

DID EMBER AND CASSIUS STEAL THOSE THINGS I really would have loved it if Ember made part of it herself or something since she's familiar with smithing and things, though maybe she tinkers more with weapons but I feel like beginner smiths probably do other things too idk. Maybe she could make Alanna's pendant instead. I DON'T KNOW I'M VERY CONCERNED THAT THEY STOLE THESE THINGS but I guess they're all traveling so no one will be able to catch them for it.

BUT SHOULDN'T ENOCH NOTICE THIS MAYBE

Did Danica help Alanna onto the horse while being on the horse? I think she was on the horse, but I feel like it'd be easier to help Alanna onto the horse from the ground.

I love that there's a lot of focus on this goodbye. It's VERY reminiscent of what transpired before with Mishal and Isadora, but it's even sadder because of the unknown factor behind it. No one knows when they'll see them again, where before, there was at least hope of seeing them later when they returned home.

Also that bit at the end where Ember felt cold and her breath was cold was amazing. Not only because she's feeling lonely and empty and perhaps are a bit more north than normal anyways, but also because the dream was warm and reminiscent of Chromium and they're going to Chromium and all that blacksmithing stuff is usually fire-ish and warmish and stuff so I thought it was kinda cool idk man I appreciated it.

And that scene where Cassius made them giggle really tore at my heart that was incredibly rude and I was almost in tears at the end but I'm hyped up right now and can't be brought to tears yet but I was real close

Please be nice to my children :(




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Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:12 pm
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



Hey Mell!

I have every intention of reading all of this at some point, but today is not that day. I have however, seen that you have a tonne of these in the green room and after an inspiring wall post about tackling later chapters I thought I'd pop in and give you some thoughts on this one!

Now I've read a couple of chapters along the way for this one, so I'm not going in completely blind but I think the last chapter I viewed was around the 20ish mark... it's been a while!

The horses Danica scrounged money for and bought are beautiful.

Watch your tense here

It was easier to focus on how lovely the horses were than to think about what they were for.

Oh boy... I almost don't want to read on. However I love how you use this sentence to capture the emotions your characters are feeling without explicitly stating them. A really good trick.

Standing together, just as she and Cassius were, Ori and Alanna huddled like two people caught in the rain. But the rain had passed and left its mark on the land, turning it all the sludge, even days after. The skies were clear and blue without breeze, but the sun felt as though it held no warmth anymore.

Lovely description.

He took his arm out from behind his back and offered it out to Ori. “It’s not a violin, but it’s not… nothing. Happy late birthday?”

Oh, this is lovely <3

Ori opened it, and a soft melody began to play.

<3 <3 3

“I’ll tell him you miss him,” Ori said, arms folded over their chest and a glint to their dark eyes.

Cassius scowled. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“Well, you can’t stop them,” Alanna said. “And if they don’t, I will.”

“He won’t believe you anyway,” Cassius said, raising his nose into the air haughtily.

This is a wonderful interaction between the three of them - I love how casually they can tease Cassius!

And she watched them, with Cassius at her side, until they disappeared. Just as they’d done with Isadora and Mishal.

This seems very symbolic, as though gradually everyone is leaving and going their separate ways just as you brought them all together before - I like the full circle.

Overall a well written chapter! You always deal with the emotional scenes so well and even though I only knew a handful of the characters I was really mourning the splitting up of them!

I notice this is chapter 42, so can't help but wonder how much you have left to go? I think I've seen up to 46 posted? Maybe once I've read through CH I'll actually get around to this one!

Hope some of this helped <3

Icy




mellifera says...


you're so sweet omg <3

there's six chapters I haven't posted, one is a two-part because long, so 52 technically! and I mean, I of course would not object to more feedback xD

thank you for the review!! <333



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Tue Aug 18, 2020 9:38 am
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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 back for more.

First Impression: WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO US? Had to get that off my chest there. Anyway...so the splitting up happens here and that's not nice to see at all. Another really well done parting scene here. You definitely did an awesome job of capturing the emotions that are running through this group as this scene takes place and that's always nice to see. And well the plot marches on. I believe things will pick up after this or at least it should or maybe this is just winding to a close. I think its the latter if your wall posts are anything to go by.

Anyway let's get right to it,

The horses Danica scrounged money for and bought are beautiful. Tall, muscular creates with feathers on their legs and huge, snuffling noses. One was a glossy, deep russet bay who looked red in the sun, with a flowing black mane and kind eyes. The second was a pale grey, with a thin, glossy mane and patchy white fur, and was more lithe than the first.


Pretty good descriptions you have right there.

She glanced to their right. Standing together, just as she and Cassius were, Ori and Alanna huddled like two people caught in the rain. But the rain had passed and left its mark on the land, turning it all the sludge, even days after. The skies were clear and blue without breeze, but the sun felt as though it held no warmth anymore.


More weather phenomena aligning with the characters emotions.

'
Ori took the box from Cassius’ hands. It was a rich mahogany wood, polished and lacquered to a perfectly smooth finish. It smelled of forest and sap and jasmine. Ori opened it, and a soft melody began to play. A smile spread across Ori’s face as their brows dipped forward. For a moment, Ember was worried they might cry.


Another great description of this gift and it definitely does sound like an awesome gift.

She shrugged innocently and shared a look with Cassius. “Of course not. Do you like it?”


Of course the two of them snuck away in the middle of the night.

When she pulled away, she turned to Alanna, and this time held her gaze. “We didn’t forget about you.” She held out her hand and unfurled her fist. Resting neat as she’d found it was the pendant they’d grabbed for Alanna. A single piece of grey moonstone, in the shape of a teardrop, hung from a glistening silver chain that gathered in her palm like water.


More amazing descriptions although now I have to wonder if they stole money or did they just ask for it and then sneak out later.

She sniffled and stepped towards him. Cassius pulled her into a hug and squeezed his eyes shut, and Ember could practically feel the pain that was radiating from him and Alanna both.


I can feel it too Ember. I can feel it too.

Cassius over-exaggerated a considerate frown. “I don’t know. That’s asking an awful lot, for me to know that he’s so close. I think I’d have to draw the line there for things I’d do for you.”


Nice little interlude of trademark Cassius humor to make things so much more real because this is exactly how a bunch of kids would act in a situation like this one.

He bowed dramatically, eyes closed and eyebrows high, keeping his nose in the air. The light caught his curls, highlighting how pale they had gotten. “How dare you speak of someone of such excellency in that way. Why, I’ll have you thrown into the stocks, I will, you peasant.”


Well this is a bit of an ironic scene if you consider who Cassius was supposed to be.

“Remember, Mishal doesn’t have me or Cassius around anymore, so if he starts getting too serious and focuses too hard on books, you’ll have to jolt him out of it,” Ember said grimly.


This is some very good advice right here.

Enoch came to stand behind her. She didn’t turn to him, but acknowledged his firm and steady presence behind her.


Hmm....*checks notes*

And she watched them, with Cassius at her side, until they disappeared. Just as they’d done with Isadora and Mishal.


Well that's the end of yet another sad goodbye although now I realize this means I have to remember three simultaneous plot line. *Brain...open up that extra storage*

She was unusually cold that night, but dreamt of lying on a mountainside in a bed of ashes under the full, warming beams of the sun. She awoke, feeling toasty, and she thought as she let out a sigh that she could see her breath in front of her, though it was not cold outside.


Well that was certainly a strange detail right there. OH well. It probably doesn't mean anything.

Aaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: So I'm not going to say this was fun because you captured all the emotion far too well and it is definitely sad to have to read yet another case of them having to say goodbye to each other. Ignoring that, the chapter itself was written really well as usual and flowed as smoothly as it always does. The plot like I said earlier seems to be winding to some sort of a close. After much deliberation this goodbye has finally happened so I suppose all we can do is eagerly await more...

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

Stay Safe
Harry





The only person I know for certain I am better than is the person I used to be.
— CandyWizard