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Children with Stars in their Veins (Chapter 46)

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]

Accersi cribrans aquas de nubibus supra.”

“You’ve been trying to make that spell work for hours,” Alanna said, side-eyeing Rowan. “It—”

A crack split the air above them. Rowan glanced up and managed to shut their eyes in enough time for a sheet of water to break over their heads and douse them and the roads beneath them.

The grey Rowan was riding rose her head abruptly at the noise and the sudden motion. Her nostrils flared and she snorted, but after a few moments had passed, she relaxed once again and bent back down to nibble at the grass.

Alanna glared at them, hair soaked to her skin and the water dripping down her face and her clothes.

“Sorry,” they said. They removed their cloak, which had been too hot even as the night brought a cool breeze.

Danica, who had been collecting what kindling and wood she could without straying out of the circle of industrial corral around the outpost, approached and dropped what she had reaped from her efforts. She glanced at them and frowned. “What happened to the two of you?”

Alanna scooted away from Rowan and began to take her hair out of its braid. “Ori won’t stop messing with magic. What were you even trying to do?”

Rowan glanced up towards the seal-grey sky, fading to an inky blue towards the east. The moon was already clear, white as a cut-out of paper. It looked not unlike the spells they had tried to cast on their ceiling, in an attempt to make a breathing mosaic they could look at.

“I wanted to know if I could make it rain,” they said. They sighed. “I’ve fallen out of practise and I… It’s been a while since I’ve brushed up on it.” Rowan pulled out of their bag the music box that Cassius and Ember had given them. It was safely dry, protected by a swath of their change of clothes.

They opened it. A tiny bird, bright blue and white-bellied, sat perfectly still on a silver stand. They put their fingertip in the gear slot on the side of the box and slowly rotated it. The bird’s wings unfolded and lifted up and down in rhythm as the sweet chimes of the music began to unfurl into the air. The tiny painted beak opened, as though it were the bird singing. Rowan hummed along to it, already long since familiar with the tune.

Danica set up the wood she had scavenged into the shape of a hut. When she was finished, she stepped back.

Rowan set aside the music box as it continued to sing. To the melody of the song, Rowan sung and held out their hands, cupping their palms “Creatio ex nihilo; lapis. Manus magnitudine.” Their heart fluttered as they waited.

A pale glow radiated off their hands, shimmering in a rough outline above them. Then the stone formed, slowly and carefully, until with a pop! noise, the stone was formed and fell into their hand, weighted. It was misshapen, and not at all a nice-looking rock, but it was a rock all the same.

Pain pulsed through their fingers, but they couldn’t care less. They had asked for the right thing, and they’d gotten it. They leaned forward and set it beside the wood Danica had set up.

“That’s better than making it rain,” Alanna said, wringing out her hair. “Practise more of that.”

“How long have you been interested in magic?” Danica wondered, as she collected some more stones around to join Rowan’s.

They shrugged, gently closed to music box and set it aside. They stood up and ran their fingers through their own damp locks, wriggling it to catch the breeze. “I thought it was fascinating since I was young. There’s so much you can do, if you know how to ask. I was, at the time, the only one who showed any interest anyway. Cassius has a talent for it, but he’s also good at talking to people, so it makes sense he would know how to ask for what he wants.”

“What do you mean by ‘if you know how to ask’?”

“Magic is like… Well, it’s like it can listen. The language is the bridge to communicate with it, and you cast spells in the way you ask for them. But it’s tricky, it sometimes takes words too literally, sometimes gives your something completely different from what you intended.” They smiled. “Words have power. Magic makes you think about that.”

Alanna took off her shoes and shook them out. Droplets flew off into the night, sparking as the caught some of the dimming skylight.

Danica glanced towards her. “Alanna, what’s your sister like? From what I’ve heard of her, she sounds lovely.”

Though she was still drenched and grumbly about it, the corner of Alanna’s mouth lifted. “Isa’s great. She looks after all of us, and she’s really good at embroidery. She’s one of the only people Cassius ever listened to.” She swiped at her bare arms, as if this would dry her faster. “She’s really nice. To everyone. And she’s really pretty. She’s tall, taller than Ori. She has this silver-gold hair—” Alanna brushed a hand over her own hair, as if to demonstrate.

“Isadora is the oldest of the six of us. Alanna’s right, she’s kind and wonderful. You’d like her. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like her.” Rowan smiled.

“I know your sword hasn’t got a fancy hilt, but…” Alanna shrugged. “I don’t know. You’re not a knight, are you? You seem like you’d be a knight.”

Danica smiled, tense, and shook her head. She sat for a moment, resting her arms on her knees and folding them. “No. I never had the chance. I was able to get the training I have now, but knighthood was never… Not that it would have mattered. I lived in one of the outside settlements, the one all the way south on the Ocean of Mirrors. They don’t have knights there, only in the kingdoms. Besides, I’ve never done something nearly impressive enough to be noticed by any sort of royalty.”

Alanna glanced over towards Rowan. Rowan bit their lip. There wasn’t all that much humour to be found in their situation, but irony certainly didn’t miss them, and there was something to that.

Rowan wound the music box again. As the notes rose in the air, they crouched down on their knees and held their hands over the pile of woods. “Advocabit ignis tu vitae,” they sang quietly.

A mist green glow ran over their hands and wrists, then flashed. Sparks spat out from their hands and showered over the wood. A moment later, it sparked to life. They grinned.

“We didn’t even need Ember for that,” Alanna said, weakly, as though meant as a joke, but then her expression fell. She cleared her throat. “I don’t see how you could have been less impressive than Enoch. What would he have done to impress royalty that you haven’t?”

Danica’s eyebrows rose. “Enoch’s a knight? I… He didn’t say anything.”

“Cassius saw his sword hilt,” Rowan said. “He was pretty evasive about it, though, so I’m not sure that’s a story he was willing to share.”

“I didn’t realise knights had special hilts,” Danica said. Her brow knitted together, stressed. “I grew up wanting to be a knight, but I can’t say I know all that much about them.”

Alanna was staring into the fire, a peculiar expression of consternation on her face.

“Cassius loved those kinds of stories. Of knights, of myths, of dragons and their riders, of anything fantastical or out of the ordinary. Poems, books, songs. He’d get lost in those.” Rowan smiled. “It was one way to keep him quiet.”

“Can any member of royalty make a knight?” Alanna asked, as though she’d heard nothing they’d said.

They pursed their lips, joy dimming. “From what I understand of the knighting ceremonies, yes, but I certainly don’t know as much as Cassius. Or Enoch.”

“Then, by extent, anyone with trueblood?” She looked up to meet their gaze, inquisitive, her pale eyes bright.

“Alanna,” they murmured, ducking their chin. They shook their head and stared as the blue flames licked up the wood, cracking gently in the spreading night. “I would assume it is whoever sits on the throne, in particular. I can’t imagine they allow children to swing swords around their best warriors’ heads.”

Alanna folded her arms over her chest and looked away, still with a frighteningly calculating look about her.

Danica coughed quietly. “Everyone has childhood dreams. I’m happy enough now, I don’t need to be running errands for a king or a queen whom I have very little contact with. If I were ever to serve, it would have to be someone I really believed in. Helping kids out of situations like Caddy and Hypatis has been rewarding. Getting to see them off somewhere better for themselves.” She smiled. “It’s not the glorious life, and it’s not always the most above board, but it helps them, and that’s all that matters in the end. What do the two of you fancy yourselves growing up to become? If you have any thoughts.”

The music box ran out again. Rowan shut it and carefully stowed it away, not yet putting it back into their dampened bag. “An explorer. Maybe a historian, maybe I’ll stay with the Chronicler’s Guild.” They tucked their legs to their chest and put their chin on their knee. “I want to see the ruins. I want to know what secrets are buried there. Why is trueblood so vital? How much of any of our origin stories actually holds up?”

“Those are certainly big questions,” Danica said, chuckling. “I hope you’ll find the answers you seek.” She turned to Alanna. “What about you?”

Alanna stared into the fire, something intense in her eyes as the sapphire flames lit them up, now an eerily bright blue. The shadows the light cast over her face danced and drew lines like reverse constellations over her cheeks.

She shrugged. “I’m not sure. But I really want to see Glacier’s Keep, properly. With Isadora and Mishal.”

“I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to play my music anywhere, of course,” Rowan said, leaning over to gently nudge Alanna’s shoulder.

She blinked, as though drawn from a spell, and glanced over. Then she smiled and nodded. “Yeah, they’re really good on their violin. And they sing sometimes. They’re really enchanting when they sing. Cassius has accused you of using magic when you sing.”

They laughed. “And as I told Cassius, that’s impossible. I’ve always sung in our tongue. To my knowledge, there are no songs in Magic.” They leaned back, and sighed. “That would be… incredible though. Imagine the spells you could weave like that.”

“Well, I’d love to hear you sometime. Maybe you’ll find opportunity in the City of Bells. It’s a very musical place, from what I hear,” Danica said.

They nodded and glanced up towards the starry sky. “Yeah,” they said. “I’d like that.”



word count:

1,853




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Sat Nov 21, 2020 3:37 am
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starlitmind wrote a review...



This is a mobile review so it might be a disaster oops

Nooooo it's not Mishal's or Isadora's pov :( I need to know what happened

A crack split the air above them. Rowan glanced up and managed to shut their eyes in enough time for a sheet of water to break over their heads and douse them and the roads beneath them.


this made me laugh xD it reminds me of when you go to the water park and those big buckets dump water over you

The grey Rowan was riding rose her head abruptly at the noise and the sudden motion.


I kept reading the "grey" as describing Rowan instead of the horse, so it took me a couple of times to figure out what that sentence meant xD I thought it was saying that Rowan looked grey. maybe it's a common thing to talk about horses as "the grey" or whatever, but I had a bit of trouble with this sentence, so I thought I'd point it out! please disregard if it's stupid cx

She glanced at them and frowned. “What happened to the two of you?”


I don't know why I find this water thing so funny! Like I keep imagining myself coming up to Rowan and Alanna and finding them soaked when there's no water nearby xD

A pale glow radiated off their hands, shimmering in a rough outline above them. Then the stone formed, slowly and carefully, until with a pop! noise, the stone was formed and fell into their hand, weighted.


How is Rowan so amazing at magic
I noticed you said "the stone formed" twice which might seem a bit repetitive! c:

“Words have power. Magic makes you think about that.”


I feel like this could totally be on the back or front cover of the book. such a pretty statement <3

“Isa’s great. She looks after all of us, and she’s really good at embroidery. She’s one of the only people Cassius ever listened to.” She swiped at her bare arms, as if this would dry her faster. “She’s really nice. To everyone. And she’s really pretty. She’s tall, taller than Ori. She has this silver-gold hair—”


The way Alanna describes her sister is so sweet! it makes me wonder if I'd ever describe my sister like that if someone asked cx
but this shows how close they are and emphasizes why Alanna initially wasn't taking their departure well

Danica said. Her brow knitted together, stressed. “I grew up wanting to be a knight, but I can’t say I know all that much about them.”


You're using words like "stressed" and "tense" with Danica, and I want to learn more about her and her story!

“Then, by extent, anyone with trueblood?” She looked up to meet their gaze, inquisitive, her pale eyes bright.


AW does Alanna want to make Danica a knight

Rowan shut it and carefully stowed it away, not yet putting it back into their dampened bag. “An explorer. Maybe a historian, maybe I’ll stay with the Chronicler’s Guild.”


WHAT HE'S SUPPOSED TO BE A VIOLINIST.

just kidding xD

okay they mentioned violin later so we're all good

If I ever use the wrong pronouns for Rowan, I'm really sorry!!! I get nervous that I'll accidentally use the wrong pronouns, please correct me if I do

I hope Danica becomes a knight and fulfills her dreams. and isa better be alive, or at least let her live until Rowan and Alanna see her again :(




mellifera says...


this made me laugh xD it reminds me of when you go to the water park and those big buckets dump water over you


this is EXACTLY what I was envisioning!!

I kept reading the "grey" as describing Rowan instead of the horse, so it took me a couple of times to figure out what that sentence meant xD I thought it was saying that Rowan looked grey. maybe it's a common thing to talk about horses as "the grey" or whatever, but I had a bit of trouble with this sentence, so I thought I'd point it out! please disregard if it's stupid cx


grey is a colour of horse (confusingly, they're actually white horses, but the proper term for them is grey)! I'm used to hearing, when not named, horses described like this ("the grey" "the paint", etc) because I've been around them so much, so I understand why this would be confusing, I apologise!

If I ever use the wrong pronouns for Rowan, I'm really sorry!!! I get nervous that I'll accidentally use the wrong pronouns, please correct me if I do.


Rowan's pronouns are they/them :)



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JabberHut wrote a review...



Before I start, I can't believe (though I can 100% believe) that you're leaving me on that cliffhanger from last chapter how could you do this to me

I'm SO happy we are getting this little moment between one of our new groups now. Danica is going to have an ongoing role still in the near future, and I really appreciate getting a closer look at the kind of character she is.

I know it's been touched briefly before how she's kind of a mercenary of sorts, mainly her swordsmanship and such, but getting a clearer picture is actually rather enlightening and threw my brain spiraling into the void of Alternate Dimensions. But I also didn't have to for long because it was even included here how Alanna was thinking about Danica becoming knight. I'm about 73% sure she was considering knighting Danica right then and there and I was like omg this kid is clever

BUT ALSO LOL I'm so glad Rowan has had to keep nudging her about it like girl, darling, please, don't tell Danica we're truebloods what are you even

Considering I don't know Danica very well yet, I'm taking Alanna's thought process here as a she's-young-and-trusting sort of thing. For me, I still don't have any sort of attachment to Danica, so the thought of knighting her was only fun for me to think on Alanna's behalf, not necessarily an exciting moment on Danica's behalf (even though it would be for anyone). Basically, while I don't think Danica has any reason to turn on them or leave them for dead or even hate them, I am not really emotionally invested with her. I'm well on my way though because she did help save this group before by fighting/defending them with her sword. I think this three-person travel group will definitely rectify that (or alternatively, reveal some dark nasty secrets about this unsuspecting charactER I DON'T KNOW).

sEE WHAT I MEAN? My brain just went nutty about a lot of things while reading this.

I'm pretty sure it's safe to assume Danica will be a lovely companion though. I can see her value as a physical defense for them in case anything were to happen during their travels, and I can even see that because Danica is with them, they'll be able to reunite with Isadora (bECAUSE SHE'S COMPLETELY FINE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH).

I'm really just mostly excited to see how crucial of a character she will be during this trek. She clearly will have some role, and clearly things are going to happen to them during their travels. I really look forward to seeing how valuable she proves to be (and thus proving how she deserves to be a knight so Alanna can knight her in the epiloGUE I'M JUST SAYING).

There were just so many lovely moments in here though, in general. Rowan with their music box and even practicing magic, Alanna being young and grumbly and adorable, how the two of them thought longingly about their friends and relatives. It was all just so really lovely and emotionally triggering. It really held my heart at so many moments, and I think these are valuable conversation topics to further bond with their new party member. Danica doesn't quite understand who they are just as much as they don't really understand her. This conversation is such an easy but effective way to bring these characters up to speed with each other.

Also, no magic word translations make me sad. :( (Not that they were entirely needed because context gave them away pretty much BUT I LOVE YOUR MAGIC LANGUAGE SO MUCH.)




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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 another chapter....:)

First Impression: I can't do this anymore...everytime I read her name my blood runs cold. But then I am glad for the break from all of that to see how these two are doing. Its nice to see how Alanna is just being her sweet little self...until I remember what will happen when she hears about her sister...you see what you've done...

Okay that aside this was a pretty nice chapter. There was some really cool magic going on and I love how we get a little refresher course on how magic works along with some extra knowledge in case anyone has forgotten that previous explanation in like uhh....Chapter 1 or 2 or 3 or 4. Their relationship with Danica is also pretty nice to see.

Anyway let's get right to it,

“You’ve been trying to make that spell work for hours,” Alanna said, side-eyeing Rowan. “It—”

A crack split the air above them. Rowan glanced up and managed to shut their eyes in enough time for a sheet of water to break over their heads and douse them and the roads beneath them.


Well that was ironic...love that little gag there. I had way too much fun laughing about how that must have looked.

“Sorry,” they said. They removed their cloak, which had been too hot even as the night brought a cool breeze.


That seems like a very appropriate apology. :)

“I wanted to know if I could make it rain,” they said. They sighed. “I’ve fallen out of practise and I… It’s been a while since I’ve brushed up on it.” Rowan pulled out of their bag the music box that Cassius and Ember had given them. It was safely dry, protected by a swath of their change of clothes.


Well they definitely did succeed sort of...I mean technically dousing just a group of people would be more easier than just trying to make it rain all over the place...just saying.

A pale glow radiated off their hands, shimmering in a rough outline above them. Then the stone formed, slowly and carefully, until with a pop! noise, the stone was formed and fell into their hand, weighted. It was misshapen, and not at all a nice-looking rock, but it was a rock all the same.


That's a near description there for that spell. Definitely very interesting to imagine something just like forming straight out of the air.

“That’s better than making it rain,” Alanna said, wringing out her hair. “Practise more of that.”


Yup. Someone is definitely mad.

They shrugged, gently closed to music box and set it aside. They stood up and ran their fingers through their own damp locks, wriggling it to catch the breeze. “I thought it was fascinating since I was young. There’s so much you can do, if you know how to ask. I was, at the time, the only one who showed any interest anyway. Cassius has a talent for it, but he’s also good at talking to people, so it makes sense he would know how to ask for what he wants.”


Well Rowan, that was a pretty vague description there to start off with. Are you sure you want to wait till someone tells you to explain it further before actually explaining what you meant?

“Magic is like… Well, it’s like it can listen. The language is the bridge to communicate with it, and you cast spells in the way you ask for them. But it’s tricky, it sometimes takes words too literally, sometimes gives your something completely different from what you intended.” They smiled. “Words have power. Magic makes you think about that.”


Hmm...after a long time we get to see how this magic system truly works again and it is a really cool concept that you've got here.

“I know your sword hasn’t got a fancy hilt, but…” Alanna shrugged. “I don’t know. You’re not a knight, are you? You seem like you’d be a knight.”


Uhh...kind of a weird change of subject there going from Isadora to knights and Danica...uhh...I guess since its Alanna maybe its forgivable but I wonder how the thoughts just jumped between those things especially without Danica even saying anything in reply to them describing Isadora.

Alanna glanced over towards Rowan. Rowan bit their lip. There wasn’t all that much humour to be found in their situation, but irony certainly didn’t miss them, and there was something to that.


Hmm...I don't know about those two but I definitely am laughing my head off at the irony there.

“We didn’t even need Ember for that,” Alanna said, weakly, as though meant as a joke, but then her expression fell. She cleared her throat. “I don’t see how you could have been less impressive than Enoch. What would he have done to impress royalty that you haven’t?”


Well...that was unfortunate.

“I didn’t realise knights had special hilts,” Danica said. Her brow knitted together, stressed. “I grew up wanting to be a knight, but I can’t say I know all that much about them.”


Okayy...well more notes to talk about here backstory.

“Then, by extent, anyone with trueblood?” She looked up to meet their gaze, inquisitive, her pale eyes bright.


Someone wants to do something very badly...:)

“Alanna,” they murmured, ducking their chin. They shook their head and stared as the blue flames licked up the wood, cracking gently in the spreading night. “I would assume it is whoever sits on the throne, in particular. I can’t imagine they allow children to swing swords around their best warriors’ heads.”


That would be a lot of fun though...imagine a five year old knighting someone...

The music box ran out again. Rowan shut it and carefully stowed it away, not yet putting it back into their dampened bag. “An explorer. Maybe a historian, maybe I’ll stay with the Chronicler’s Guild.” They tucked their legs to their chest and put their chin on their knee. “I want to see the ruins. I want to know what secrets are buried there. Why is trueblood so vital? How much of any of our origin stories actually holds up?”


Well Rowan has some lofty goals right there....does fit in line with his character.

They laughed. “And as I told Cassius, that’s impossible. I’ve always sung in our tongue. To my knowledge, there are no songs in Magic.” They leaned back, and sighed. “That would be… incredible though. Imagine the spells you could weave like that.”


Yes now I want to imagine someone inventing like a battle song...yes...this is all your fault Alanna.

They nodded and glanced up towards the starry sky. “Yeah,” they said. “I’d like that.”


Well that was a really nice place to end the chapter. Just enough hope...

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall another great chapter as always, some nice descriptions in there occasionally although I did see that this chapter had perhaps a little less than the others did but that's fine because we still do get a decent sense of the setting. And overall it looks like they're just going on their merry way for now. Excited to see what comes next...I will bring the onions just in case.

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

Stay Safe
Harry

Image




mellifera says...


Well Rowan, that was a pretty vague description there to start off with. Are you sure you want to wait till someone tells you to explain it further before actually explaining what you meant?


aw but where's the fun in being straightforward :p

Yes now I want to imagine someone inventing like a battle song...yes...this is all your fault Alanna.


this would be a very cool idea if I had any talent for writing lyrics lol

Excited to see what comes next...I will bring the onions just in case.


I will say nothing on this matter *eyes*


thank you so much for your reviews!! as always, I really, really appreciate them <333




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