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The Hero's Brother (20.2)

by mellifera


The farther Gideon disappeared into the forest, the more bubbling rage threatened to overflow from Isha’s stomach.

Gideon could take care of himself after he’d cooled down. She didn’t have to monitor his every move, and there was nothing near enough that he could endanger himself on. Of course, with Carter in the coterie’s grasp, she didn’t think he’d try enough that would inhibit him from rescuing him.

She turned away from the thicket Gideon vanished into, keeping a lid on her anger as she glowered at Shiloh. She was distinctly aware Finn had abandoned his task to watch them in surprise. “That was uncalled for,” Isha said icily, never glancing away from Shiloh.

At least Shiloh had the decency to have ruddy cheeks and a grimace curling her lips. “But it’s the truth,” she replied. She was still playing defence – as if Gideon and Isha were actually attacking her – but she’d grown subdued after Gideon’s departure.

But guilt wasn’t enough atonement. Isha dug her heel into dry, forest floor, and it crackled. It smelled like must and fresh earth. “Then you’re not allowed to hide behind survival. You can’t shield yourself in the lie that you were ‘protecting’ Carter by lying to him, can’t ignore that you were letting your baby brother suffer abuse every day because you were too busy sticking your fingers into criminals’ honey pots. You’re not mightier than Gideon, not even equal to him, if you can’t own up to your own mistakes.”

It had been mere days, and Shiloh and Gideon were already at each other throats. Isha, for her part, was sick of playing mediator. Shiloh wasn’t a nasty person, wasn’t cruel, but she was hypocritical and always had been. Gideon wasn’t porcelain, but Shiloh was the one person who could take anything too far.

“I didn’t know!” Shiloh had bristled again, but the raw anger had been replaced by fear. Isha wasn’t about to soften for her though- let her be scared, for Carter, of Isha, did it matter? “I didn’t- If I had known-”

“Don’t put yourself on a high horse,” Isha interrupted. Fabella snorted softly, bowing her head and clacking her teeth together. “Carter flinches when anyone raises their hand too high. He has scars, on his back and his arms. You have to be blind or stupid not to notice, Shiloh, and you’re neither.” She narrowed her eyes, letting out a drawn breath. “Your lies are the reason he’s here in the first place, Gideon’s the reason he’s still alive. You're mixing it up.”

Shiloh glanced at Whisper, as if they might offer assistance. But Whisper only shook their head, expression betraying none of their feelings. Shiloh turned back to Isha, brow twisted miserably. “You’re the one who forced him to come!” she insisted.

It boiled Isha’s blood that Shiloh’s tone was desperate and not venomous. She would so willing attack Gideon but could refrain herself when arguing with Isha? “Shove that. Knowing both Carter, and how abrasive Gideon can be at first, look me dead in the eyes and tell me Carter would have come if he didn’t want to know why you lied to him. After Gideon emphatically told him not to.”

Villa tugged on her reins, attempting to forage through the forest floor for grass. Isha hadn’t noticed how stony her grip had become around both sets of leathers, and let out a long breath, slackening her fingers. She still did not look away from Shiloh, whose features had grown pained. She was looking for a counter, Isha knew. Just as she knew Shiloh wouldn’t find one, because it was the truth.

Before Shiloh could gather her wits together, Isha cleared her throat. “I don’t care what you have to tell yourself to sleep at night. But they’re good for each other, Carter and Gideon, and you should know at least that Gideon hasn’t been entreated to good things. Don’t mess this up for the two of them just because you can’t stand to loosen the collar you’ve put on Carter to control him. Sorry,” Isha quirked her lip drily, “I meant to protect him.”

Maybe it was unhealthy that a rush of triumph ran through Isha’s veins when Shiloh bowed her head, her jaw tight. Reese was snuffing around her shoulder, ears pricked forward, but Shiloh was paying her no mind.

Isha didn’t act on the victory, however. She put Villa’s reins in the hand she held Fabella’s and used her freed hand to rub her disquieted temple. The dull throbbing had only grown worse. Isha was no stranger to headaches – nothing like Gideon’s, however – but this one didn’t feel rooted from strain. It almost felt the kind that was born from an oncoming affliction.

“There are tracks here,” Finn called. Isha glanced over to where he was standing, pulling a fallen leaf off of his hat. He was just beside some kind of thorn bush, gesturing down at the ground. “The ground is damp here. Good for imprints.”

He was searching between the remaining three of them, carefully neutral as he approached Whisper to take back Napoleon.

“We can rest for a moment,” Whisper said, catching Isha’s eyes. Isha let the tension ease from her shoulders and now paused to wonder if that was also Whisper’s doing. Still, she wasn’t about to complain – she wasn’t sure how much of this magic she truly believed in, wasn’t sure what to think of it quite yet, but Whisper dipped their chin ever so slightly and Isha offered them her best smile. It was tight, but not dishonest.

She had to wonder what all this would lead into. Would they still be making to leave the island? Where would they all find themselves after all was said and done? Isha didn’t want to kindle the flames of hope that maybe, maybe they’d just to settle down after everything. Besides, what would they do? There was an uncountable amount of improbabilities for them getting something gentler than all this.

Still… Isha wondered if any of this could be what it felt like to have a proper family. She knew she was luckier than most in the coteries – her parents had raised her, she’d grown up with two siblings – but that didn’t stop the fester they had left in her. She still scorned her father, detested her mother, was endlessly irked by Rémi. She had little faith that Alban would turn out any different than any of them, but he had been the softest of the siblings, and her mother had allowed it only because he was the youngest.

But at least she’d had Gideon. Which was why she approached Whisper after they’d spoken, and she didn’t even have to ask. Winnie held out their hand and took the two sets of reins from Isha’s grasp, nodding gently in her direction. Koshar, as if agreeing with his keeper, weaved against Isha’s feet and meowed up at her. His eyes shimmered in the muted sunlight that split through the parted canopies.

Isha offered him a rub over his ear, which produced a low purr, before she turned from them to follow after where Gideon had disappeared into the forest. Even if she couldn’t get him to talk – which was the most likely outcome, Gideon wasn’t the type to talk through his feelings – she could at least press the Carter tender spot. That’d get him back on the right track.

She pulled the jacket she’d thrown on that morning tighter around her torso. Nobody else gave any notions they were bothered by the chill in the air at all, but Isha had been feeling icy all day. Finn had made a jab about it, to which Isha had given him a withering glare. It’s really not that cold, he’d said as if to make amends. She had ignored him, but even Gideon had given her a side glance.

The grass and foliage that sprouted through the leaves and dead undergrowth grew progressively thicker as she stayed the course Gideon had routed. There were more young trees in the midst of the thick, elder trunks, and more of the same thorn bushes that Finn had been standing next to while he was inspecting the tracks.

It was darker this way, but at least it wasn’t growing colder. Everyone had, unspoken, reacted defensively against the forest they’d been in after the Fire Forger ambush. The one they’d been in the second ambush.

The one where Gideon had first started nattering on about Carter and he’s confusing, Isha. Why is he so confusing? which hadn’t been any kind of surprise. He was entirely terrible when it came to understanding anyone unless their motives were stabby or immoral. Shiloh had been a puzzle to him, but Carter was a downright enigma.

That, and Carter was quite possibly the personification of the only thing Gideon had ever wanted and could never have. Innocence.

She couldn’t honestly be sure what was going on with the two of them yet, couldn’t be sure if her suspicions or helpful suggestions to say nice things to him were solidly founded. But she knew that they balanced each other, could be good for each other just like she’d told Shiloh if they got past their scars; were they really that different, in so many ways? They expressed in different ways, sure, but the core of it…

Well. Perhaps they should go about freeing Carter and figuring out the rest later.

Was she studiously not thinking about her own role, of confronting her parents but specifically her mother again? If so, it was hardly anyone’s business but her own. She wasn’t about to let her mother cow her into submission, never again.

Still. Gideon needed her attention now. Carter needed his entire focus if they wanted to pull this off without a hitch.

word count: 1,641


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Wed Sep 30, 2020 6:32 am
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ShadowVyper wrote a review...



Scribs!

You know the drill... I am sorry to be randomly jumping into this novel (I know I've reviewed other random parts of this novel? But not this one?), I just know that I adore your writing, and I need one more Checklist item being a chapter 20 or above and there are none in the Green Room and I don't want to spoil Starry Veins SO HERE I AM.

She didn’t have to monitor his every move, and there was nothing near enough that he could endanger himself on.


I'm not sure I'm following this statement? By endanger do you mean hurt? This is just odd phrasing and I don't really know what you're trying to say here.

Shiloh wasn’t a nasty person, wasn’t cruel, but she was hypocritical and always had been.


So, you do this a lot in this chapter. Where you, almost repeat yourself? You make it seem very disjointed with the commas and the way you re-state things in the same sentence >> wasn't nasty, wasn't cruel, but. It's not necessarily a problem, but you've done it enough times that it stuck out to me as being an odd writing style... and it's not something I've noticed from you in other situations? So I thought I'd point it out just in case it'd be something you'd be interested in editing for eventually c:

~ ~ ~

Nice chapter!

I admit, when I saw the bio say that this was more fighting, I was like AW YIS ACTION SCENE I don't NEED to know about the characters really to review that and then... yeah this is a different kind of fighting, huh? xD It's good, though! It's a ton of characters and I can't keep them all straight or really figure out what's going on here, but that is because I jumped in so late. At some point I'll have to just take it from the top and review this whole novel, too >.>

But nice work! I liked this chapter, even if I can't really be super helpful on characterization and such.

Keep writing!

~Shady

(CHECKLIST CHALLENGE COMPLETE Bb)




mellifera says...


oh ew shady why would you revive the first draft of this novel nooo

It's not necessarily a problem, but you've done it enough times that it stuck out to me as being an odd writing style... and it's not something I've noticed from you in other situations?


it's because it's olddddd the second draft is betterrrrrr

jkjk I do appreciate the review <3 CONGRATS ON COMPLETING CHECKLIST CHALLENGE BTW!!!



ShadowVyper says...


ahahaha <3 THANK YOU IT WAS SO HARD I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S DONE



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Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:55 am
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JabberHut wrote a review...



I CONCUR, ISHA. I CONCUR.

I shall get to that momentarily, though.

This was pretty uneventful! But Shiloh deserved what she got from Isha. I couldn't help but cheer Isha on as she let it all out on Shiloh. It's also refreshing to see Isha is still on Gideon's side despite having saved Shiloh now. Isha and Gideon will never be separated, their relationship is never put in jeopardy. They care about each other and have been through far too much to let someone like Shiloh trample all over them.

I do look forward to seeing Shiloh in a better light. So far, she feels like an excuse to dive into Gideon and Carter drama. But I can see, after Isha and Gideon return to the group, Shiloh having a grand ol' time with Finn and Whisper, so maybe everyone will be refreshed and ready to save Carter (FINALLY).

I totally like that we're promoting the potential Gideon/Carter ship, but I don't like how we're spending so long on the topic when Carter is in DANGER. It's almost aggravating, really, how long it's taking them to get to saving Carter because we have to get through the soap opera that is Gideon/Carter/Shiloh. xD WHY ARE WE NOT RUSHED?

Additionally, though, I don't think Gideon's and Carter's relationship ever evolved to this extent? I feel like this discussion is quickening the pace of their developing relationship, or forcing them into a stage they haven't reached yet. It just all feels weird to me. I loved the little moments Gideon and Carter had, but they have been so few and haven't reached a level of intimacy these arguments are suggesting. Gideon and Carter had only known each other for, like, three days.

So in the end, I totally agree with Isha. We need to save Carter before we can figure all this out. //nods If anything, their feelings will be revealed through the rescue.

But I do look forward to seeing how Isha and Gideon talk this one out. BECAUSE WE NEED GIDEON FOR THIS RESCUE.




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Sun Apr 28, 2019 5:27 pm
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Panikos wrote a review...



Hi, mellifera! I thought I might as well review the next bit, even though I probably shouldn't be giving myself so many spoilers.

Small Comments

“Then you’re not allowed to hide behind survival. You can’t shield yourself in the lie that you were ‘protecting’ Carter by lying to him, can’t ignore that you were letting your baby brother suffer abuse every day because you were too busy sticking your fingers into criminals’ honey pots. You’re not mightier than Gideon, not even equal to him, if you can’t own up to your own mistakes.”


I seriously need to read this from the beginning. This sounds so, so interesting. Carter's been kidnapped at some recent point as well, I'm guessing? I wonder how that came about.

“Carter flinches when anyone raises their hand too high. He has scars, on his back and his arms. You have to be blind or stupid not to notice, Shiloh, and you’re neither.”


Your characters do seem to address each other by name a lot - I noticed that in the previous chapter too. I'm just not sure it's needed, because people very rarely call each other by name unless it's to get their attention. It just robs the otherwise very natural dialogue of some realism.

But Whisper only shook their head, expression betraying none of their feelings.


I'm guessing Whisper is nb, because you've only ever used neutral pronouns for them so far? That's awesome. And props to you for successfully writing with they/them pronouns, because it's something I've always struggled with when I've tried it.

Carter and Gideon, and you should know at least that Gideon hasn’t been entreated to good things. Don’t mess this up for the two of them just because you can’t stand to loosen the collar you’ve put on Carter to control him


I have no idea if I'm supposed to ship Carter and Gideon but from these chapters alone I kind of want to.

She put Villa’s reins in the hand she held Fabella’s and used her freed hand to rub her disquieted temple.


This isn't the clearest sentence. I had to read it twice before I got what you meant. Maybe swap it out for something like:

She moved Villa's reins into her other hand, gripping them alongside Fabella's, and used her free hand to rub her temple.

It almost felt the kind that was born from an oncoming affliction.


Uh, this is ominous. Is it supposed to be ominous?

Overall Thoughts

I just...love this? It's so engrossing. Stories about incredibly different people getting thrown together and growing into a family are a huge weakness of mine, and this story gives off that vibe. All of your characters seem to complex and interesting and developed - I can tell how much you've thought about their backstories, and they fit together as a cast so well. There's enough tension between them to keep things interesting, but they feel close despite that. This has definitely cemented my decision to read this from the start, because there's so many details here that I have to know the context for.

I guess if I had a (potential) criticism for this chapter it'd be that there's a lot of talking/thinking going on and not a whole lot of action, but I can't know whether that's a good or bad thing without knowing the wider context. As an outsider reading this, I have no objection to it, because the dialogue is well written and the character interactions are charged with tension. I'm also a sucker for slow-paced scenes full of dialogue anyway, so it's not so much as a critique as an observation. However, I do hope that Gideon disappearing off into the woods has some plot-specific consequences, because that would make this whole chapter (argument and all) feel much more important in the overall story, rather than just good for character development. If that makes sense.

There's also a cat in this story so!! I must!! Read it!!

I'm sorry this review wasn't that helpful. It was basically just me flailing and saying how much I liked this but...that's its own kind of critique, right?

Keep writing! :D
~Pan




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Sun Mar 31, 2019 10:37 pm
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Anma says...



Hello Millefira
I'm not sure if i spelled that correctly.

Going on... Anma here to review!

This is really lovely, i really enjoyed reading it.

Though i did catch some things while reading.

"She was still playing (defense) – as if Gideon and Isha were actually attacking her – but she’d grown subdued after Gideon’s departure.

"You’re not mightier than Gideon, not even equal to him if you can’t own up to your own mistakes.”
No need for a coma.

"Shiloh glanced at Whisper as if they might offer assistance.
Same here

"She would so willing (to) attack Gideon but could refrain herself when arguing with Isha?

" but this one didn’t feel rooted from (the) strain.

"but Whisper dipped their chin ever so slightly(,) and Isha offered them her best smile.

"Would they still be (made) to leave the island?

"which produced a low purr before she turned from them to follow after where Gideon had disappeared into the forest.
No coma

"The one where Gideon had first started nattering on about Carter(,) and he’s confusing,

There is a few more if you'd like me to point them out i will.

Either than that its really good!

Keep up the good work!

Happy review day!

Sincerely
Anma




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131 Reviews


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Sun Mar 31, 2019 10:37 pm
Anma says...



Hello Millefira
I'm not sure if i spelled that correctly.

Going on... Anma here to review!

This is really lovely, i really enjoyed reading it.

Though i did catch some things while reading.

"She was still playing (defense) – as if Gideon and Isha were actually attacking her – but she’d grown subdued after Gideon’s departure.

"You’re not mightier than Gideon, not even equal to him if you can’t own up to your own mistakes.”
No need for a coma.

"Shiloh glanced at Whisper as if they might offer assistance.
Same here

"She would so willing (to) attack Gideon but could refrain herself when arguing with Isha?

" but this one didn’t feel rooted from (the) strain.

"but Whisper dipped their chin ever so slightly(,) and Isha offered them her best smile.

"Would they still be (made) to leave the island?

"which produced a low purr before she turned from them to follow after where Gideon had disappeared into the forest.
No coma

"The one where Gideon had first started nattering on about Carter(,) and he’s confusing,

There is a few more if you'd like me to point them out i will.

Either than that its really good!

Keep up the good work!

Happy review day!

Sincerely
Anma




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131 Reviews


Points: 273
Reviews: 131

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Sun Mar 31, 2019 10:36 pm
Anma wrote a review...



Hello Millefira
I'm not sure if i spelled that correctly.

Going on... Anma here to review!

This is really lovely, i really enjoyed reading it.

Though i did catch some things while reading.

"She was still playing (defense) – as if Gideon and Isha were actually attacking her – but she’d grown subdued after Gideon’s departure.

"You’re not mightier than Gideon, not even equal to him if you can’t own up to your own mistakes.”
No need for a coma.

"Shiloh glanced at Whisper as if they might offer assistance.
Same here

"She would so willing (to) attack Gideon but could refrain herself when arguing with Isha?

" but this one didn’t feel rooted from (the) strain.

"but Whisper dipped their chin ever so slightly(,) and Isha offered them her best smile.

"Would they still be (made) to leave the island?

"which produced a low purr before she turned from them to follow after where Gideon had disappeared into the forest.
No coma

"The one where Gideon had first started nattering on about Carter(,) and he’s confusing,

There is a few more if you'd like me to point them out i will.

Either than that its really good!

Keep up the good work!

Happy review day!

Sincerely
Anma





Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
— Pablo Neruda