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Author Topic: RAINBORNE (YA epic fantasy)  (Read 1191 times)
eleonora
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« on: July 29, 2017, 07:32:20 PM »

NEL

On the night after the second sun orbits, then sets, the sky blooms a deep sage—and bids the sun farewell.

The sun shall not appear in northern skies for another three months, and with every setting, it draws behind it whole storms. Each arises with its own mood, its own secret that unravels from the center with merciless ferocity and the prowess of lions, which reverberates through the galaxy whole, opens the skies, drenches the grounds, and unbalances pilots with their cargo from the surfaces of ships.

The storms follow the sun-blazed trail as a dog follows his master. Some predict their onset, those who know how to watch for them, and so the storms call to those who dare track them. Some must, as rain brings life to their hearts, and they long to be bearers of hearts alive.

For those, this night cannot be missed.

To miss one would draw death closer.

Especially now, when word in the inns suggests imperial moves to bar into the deserts the feeders on rain. They are wanted: Nel, ma and Pa, Po, and the others. If the emperor caught wind of them, living off storms, he would end them.

They track in the height of black.

The region sits hushed, night a blanket gentle over the earth it touches until—before one catches their first appearance—the suns begin anew their rotation tracing color into the sky.

Outside, stars dance between the coming of the sun and the coming of rains, as a precursor of nature’s wrath. Starlight does not disturb the three-storied shack. Even the night militia could not guess illegal activity unfolds inside.

The entire commune arises.

Nel finds her way to the tracking room by touching her hands against the lumber walls. Behind her Oslo carries his maps, and a candle he will light later—once they have tracked. In the southernmost corner of the room, she kneels, then folds her body down to rest.

Rain tracking is a matter of the heart.

Nel waits for ducho to come and meet her there, while others shuffle in, breaths slow and steady. Amelia clears her throat, and even though she cannot see it, Nel knows that she reaches up to touch her throat—a learned apology.

They live on these moments.

One moment passes. In it, stillness, broken by wind that curls its way through rafters and whistles in her ear.

Another moment, and he is there.

The living flame.

The harbinger of sunsets, and stories, and communion among people. The bringer of rain, and the writer of history.

The one, four thousand years ago, that men forgot.

He calls her. Come see the rain. He himself moves it—the storms belong to him. I’m holding you, he says. Come with me, Nel.

It takes nothing more than her name.

Inside, her spirit pulls away from her flesh the way a woman might strip a slip from skin upon capture beneath rainfall, which glues silk to its wearer by tension acquired. First she would tear from her shoulders and elbows, then from her chest, then down into the bends of her knees, to her toes, with her mind the last bit.

Everything of her spirit compresses to leave her body behind as stone. The moment breaks open inside, like a match that cracks against its case before the candle catches. Nel enters the heart of ducho—if she can call it so, since he is not man but fire.

His being opens: heart, mind, will, pure existence. If she spent more hours lost inside out, in ducho’s heart, the heart in which the galaxy lives and moves, her body might acquire a doll’s layering of dust. A finger might run over the edge of her back where her neck meets her dress, or over her nails left facing up, to discover evidence of the passage of time. And find her skin cold, hard, without life but not yet dead.

Po told her once that he finds her after these raptures—among the commune she alone their victim, so much of a furnace she has become with the fire ducho himself gifts her—a well-kept doll forgotten by her keeper, arms and hands and legs gently still, shoulders and back bent inward while hair shields her face and neck. She travels with him through the galaxy. Tonight, they watch for the oncoming storm.

Ducho brings Nel to a street cleaner.

She meets him for the first time. Fits right inside him.

Becomes one for this moment.

Fifty-some years old, by the deep-set rhythm of work in his arms, the comfort in the sweeping over cobblestones that runs deep—not just learned, but practiced, and re-learned through practice. Something in his heart yearns for the promise of a cigar in his lips, the scent of smoke mixed with the perfume of his wife. The promise calms a thread of concern over coins needed to rewire his flyer before the cold descends, with its threat of freezing over wood and oil in ice.

His task lies in the dusk cleaning shift, in a midland village six leagues east of the shack, deep into a region marked by tulips grown up from the soil in dark shades, rivers turned to streams, bridges between homes. They spread out over wide savannas with docks built upon thick blocks.

He pauses, for just a moment, as the first drops of rain tickle the thick-grown hairs over his arm—and, by practice, knows he has just enough time to sweep to the corner before he ought to disappear indoors, avoiding the first flood.

So the storm begins.

Molecules, gathered together, taking on form.

Reginald, next, commander in the imperial trade sphere.

As is custom to the navy, hair has been shaved from his head, and over a bald head he wears a cap lined in orange. It lends itself to migraines when worn too long, a pressure at his temples, just beneath the hairline. He avoids the tailor because the woman reminds him of his daughter, with her ginger curls pulled back in a braid of fishtails, a little body that went unwatched and stepped over the docks into the galactic emptiness through which bodies fall if they lose balance—fall and fall and fall until they crack open on the grounds of islands too deep to see or track. They never found the remains of hers.

Nel hurts inside him. His heart died then, and lost its hope.

Ducho always brings Nel here on the night of the second setting. The emperor himself gave Reginald the route with its guarantee of storms, carrying deep within his carrier fresh hides from phoxen for trade when the fairs begin on the morrow. He is expert at gauging the ferocity of storms.

He turns the carrier into the ninth-deep league, and drives it straight into the storm-center, which opens as a toothless mouth but bites instead with jolts, twists, turns without measure. Gears up the engines to full throttle, to move past the far wall into the imperial fold. The empire unfolds regally: the queen of islands, architected to protect inside imperial blood, and to lock out the subtlest foreign influence.

Flags beat high.

Electric light spheres glow every ten steps along the docks. Red flashes call the carrier to rest, and militia stands by, to bring Reginald and his crew in, to cover the ship with tarp, to refill the engines and to check wiring internal.

The storm is moving. Organic, and pure.

Then, a girl.

Barely eight years old, eyes stretched open. She sky-watches raindrops thicken from the window of her home; presses her face into the glass, brings her eyes close, stretches the muscles behind them until her gaze can take in as much of the horizon as calculable.

“Mami, mami, look!” Voice expressive, from her entire body. “It’s coming!” Nel’s smile fits neatly into hers. What a treasure, her spirit says, and senses the change in the storm before evidence of it arises.

The girl brings her fingers up to frame her face. The touch alone traces a map into the glass, and the glass keeps it. Light shed in the right angle would show the hills and valleys sketched through her gazing, and read just right, catch evidence of courage grown and curiosity exploded over years.

A lovely tracker you would make.

A soft gasp marks, audibly, the shift. The storm folds inward. In just a moment, its movement across the league dimensions slows. Molecules bullet toward the home, the window—and then, while her hands remain splayed out, vanish.

The storm disappears from the face of the sky.

Nel’s shock constricts the girl’s chest. Little fingers move to grasp her heart, and hold the shock in along with its pieces.

Impossible.

The impact of shock almost pulls Nel from the girl’s body.

From the galaxy, the storm dies.

A storm, fully grown, erases out, as if it had never been there at all. Every molecule of it. With every molecule, every bit of life Nel needs—she and the others. Her spirit freezes.

When she was but six years old, the nomads traveled through the southern regions, and she looked once as a lost cub walked into a pool freezing over—and stiffened there to die. Nel had never seen this sort of death, the way she has never seen this phenomenon.

Everything her mind recognizes, in the patterns ducho himself reveals her about the structure of the galaxy, possesses no categories by which to grasp this total break with reality and the galaxy itself. Another break to her spirit, as ducho pulls it from inside the girl and then brings her to his heart, hurting. The galaxy trembles from the crack, as if a hammer were placed to glass.

Ducho moves Nel league after league, through heart after heart, until his being reveals the rainstorm open up in a region so deep in the southern deserts that no human eye feasibly could watch it arise there and pour itself into a heat that claims it for itself.

As if the storm, which lives to give life, wanted to die.

The vision pierces Nel.

A storm, moved, from one league-dimension to another.

A storm disappeared, rather than disintegrated.

The storm, reappeared, without the slow emergence of its life—just complete, grown, plucked up and tossed from one dimension to another, where every molecule burns from the sky by heat, as if to intentionally kill it.

This cannot be.

Nel does not understand.
Why are you hurting? she whispers, and curls into ducho. He sets afire her skin, her muscles and bones, the wiring of her brain, its netting with her body, even though flames do not eliminate the traces of deconstruction between her heart with its experience and her mind with its concepts, its categories Po has taught, he who saw her and recognized the capacity she bears to burn.

The heart of ducho shakes. Bleeds, with a sorrow unknown to Nel, and one that traps her—for he, who has brought her to this intimacy with the world, has been her strength in it.

This isn’t mine, he says. I didn’t do this this.

Which cannot be, because he is the bringer of all rains.

What is happening?

No answer.

Ducho convulses.

Another break in her spirit, and Nel lies again in the gathering room curled into the floor, the skin along her palms stretched tight as if they were to rip open, with tears she doesn’t remember shedding—her abdomen, her heart, suddenly turned black.

She is screaming.

#

There has been a mistake.

Someone made a mistake.

Nel is sure of it, and looks for it in the gathering room after, when ma’s cool hands along her face return her to consciousness.

Mistakes can be recognized, captured by two hands, corrected.

This one must be corrected.

The commune exudes solemnity.

Oslo stands along the wall, arms crossed across his chest, and does not speak. His gaze burrows into the floor as his mind plays with puzzle pieces, none of which fit to form an image—Nel tells by the twitch of a muscle above his brow, which translates into his cheek. Everything else in him stands still as marble.

Maria sits on the floor, a breath’s space between the flow of her skirt and his boot, her eyes shut, her face sucked of gratitude. A moment comes in which she lifts her hand to place it against her abdomen, a protection, before she moves it away—as if not to curse the little one they await, the one to whom they want to promise life. Their first two wrap stubby hands over dolls and blocks beneath the widespread table, in babble of a language unfolding, which calms Nel in its childlikeness unaware of the world beyond with its risks, its dangers, the unpredictability that fuels urges to control.

Pa holds ma against his chest, arms around her with his palms imprints into her shoulders. In the faces of both, biologists by learning and by trade, Nel catches the hurried move of six hundred years of changing rain records, seeking to discover one rule, one anecdote, one textbook page by which to process what they’ve witnessed.

The candle cannot show all details, but their skin borders on gray.

Each mourns, unsure of the object of their grief: the disruption of a pattern they all know with the familiarity with which they know the gypsy ways? Or the lack of any rules, any books, by which to comprehend the disruption? A storm, following the second sun, built to follow it, identified in relation to it, vanished from the map.

A collection vessel from the furthermost dock edge sits turned over at the center of the floor, empty. Six months without rain. In the last watch, the rain did not come at all—a drought. Droughts can be expected, in the same way certain years pass without the fall of any snow to enchant inhabitants of islands prone to winter. Storms disappeared cannot be expected, because matter does not operate on those rules. And galactic rules cannot break.

The door creaks open, and Po comes inside.

His hands shake. Small jolts, as if arising from currents.

Others follow him inside, and take over empty chairs with elbows placed along the table to rest heads heavy, and corners of the room, legs brought up to chests, arms bound around them.

“Let’s take a look,” he says, unsure.

Oslo lays the map he’s penciled in on the table, and Po places atop it a generator that fits the palm of his hand. Over the parchment a miniature hologram of the map flashes, in and out, electricity within weak. The commune watches a holographic translation of the storm Oslo and Maria mapped onto the page with their tracking gift, by which they lay pencils to maps only for ducho to prompt them in etching the path of rain.

Nel confirms the storm she witnessed through the faculties of other persons, their gazes and minds. The street cleaner, then Reginald, and the girl—the storm first a possibility, a potential in the tracks left by the second sun, that explodes more and more open until it is fully grown. It moves over tenths of a league, ripples in light beamed up from a block of metal.

The track stops, hard, where the girl watched it die.

Silence speaks with the chaos of confusion. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” Oslo whispers. “No dissolution—just a stop.” His pointer runs the length of the storm, over and over, until the page crease wears while onlookers watch.

Nel’s mind tries to fill the gap.

“It’s not possible,” ma says. Pa grunts his agreement. “Everything that gathered, here”—a tap on the origin, where the molecules race together to form water in the shape of rain—“goes to nothing. I’ve—we’ve—never seen it.”

“The pencils just stopped,” Maria says.

Nel knows what hides in those words: a profound gift tested by much experience. If anything, she and Oslo and the commune have lived on these tests to their experience. Experience never fails them.

“Os, that’s not everything.”

Heads turn to the gentleness of Nel’s voice. It betrays no fear, though she has buried deep inside ducho’s hurt, alongside the confusion that sprang with it, for which she has no words.

She takes a breath.

With the drought, there has been no hleb for six weeks. She isn’t sleeping through the night, and ducho is more difficult to find in her heart.

“Nel?” Po says. What are you talking about?

“It’s not everything—the map.”

There was one more step.

“We didn’t lift pencils until he was done,” Maria says. She cannot mask the accusation in her voice: Why imply we did something wrong? Her head flashes to Po while she opens her palm to press fingers into the space between her thumb and pointer, where she grips the pencil with every tracking, where the pencil has tracked for decades.

Nel arises from her place beneath the window with a long skirt of silver threads that billows and ruffles with every step, in balance over the floors. The flame within rouges her cheeks. Before she approaches the table, she comes up to Maria and touches her arm, be at peace.

“He showed me, like he always does. It didn’t go to nothing. It was moved.” Equally as impossible, but breaking fewer galactic rules. She turns to the map, and places her hand against the point of the storm’s death, then another palm next to it, switching palm after palm until she has counted eight between the endpoint and the deserts. “It was moved here. And the desert heat? It killed it. Here.” She taps.

“How do you know that?” Maria asks. Po explained once that she is most attuned to the external senses. Hard for her to grasp some of ducho’s interior ways, especially the ones written into Nel.

Nel shakes her head.

“It wasn’t a person, this time.” She searches for words. “He…showed me himself. I felt the rain, felt the jump, felt the evaporation. He was hurting. Said it wasn’t him, which”—she turns to Po as her voice breaks, pleading, and her arms rise—“cannot be.”

She doesn’t understand why ducho himself would show her this, not when the rains belong to him. Oslo steps back, his eyes wary of her depth. Static through the room, shuffles of bodies, no words to explain.

“There have been rumors—” Pa exchanges a hot glance with ma. Together, they turn to Po, who nods.

“We need to move.” Agony brews in his face, his own eyes the most telling, always—black swirls of terror in his pupils.

The vessels in the cellars are empty of distilled rain. Just one vase, lined with gold centuries old, holds in a fresh collection, ese molecules from the isa yet to split. It will be another six weeks, and in that time, cups of it will evaporate, victim to time.

That will be too long. Po needs isa to brew hleb.

Hleb to give life to their hearts.

Go too long without it, and the hardening begins. The gifts weaken, then cease. Love, with its union, crumbles—the last of the heart before it dies entirely.

The first time ducho came, when Nel was barely old enough to speak, he took her with him to the beginning of time, further back than the five-thousand-year mark, when the centermost point of the entire galaxy was his flame. It flared up, league past league, before persons existed to witness the vastness of open space.

In this flaring up, over and over, a flamed dance to its own melody, he grew lonely, curled his innermost point inward, and touched it upon himself with the desire to create flesh his warmth could heat and minds his power illumine. So the first persons were crafted within his furnace, and protected by the strength of his will.

Afterwards, he let the whip of flames external damage and kill, and poured all of himself and the gift of his strength inward, invisible, where human hearts would have to go, from then onward, to find him.

Since, not all hearts have wanted.

“Racing?” Nel whispers.

Her blood rushes to her legs, but Po winces.

To race is to risk: life, for one hundred silver coins.

Head bent over, Po nods, as if his strength fades. “I’m afraid so. It’s time for us to buy.”

To buy rain—to buy, thus, life.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2017, 11:11:54 PM by eleonora » Logged
eleonora
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« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2017, 12:05:39 AM »

Will bump this. Would be grateful for thoughts!
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Farfadet
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« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2017, 12:08:11 PM »

First of all i would really like to thank you for taking the time to read my post and review it it is really appreciated.

I'd like to start by saying that i think your writing is beautiful, I really do. That said, I do think it might not be suited for your target audience. I thought it was poetic, I even went back at first to see if it rhymed and i hadn't noticed. But the downfall of this is that sometimes it can get confusing and I had to re-read some parts of the story to make sure I understood which is not what you want in a first chapter. You want to grip your readers so they have no choice to keep reading. Like your first sentence is really beautiful but it's about the sun. Especially in YA i think your first sentence should be about characters. Maybe you could pull it off in Adult fantasy.

The first part of your book is mostly tell rather than show. I read it like an info dump about the world and how it works. It reminded me more of the silmarillon which is based on the notes of tolkien. It's all world building but didn't make it into the story. I began to get into the story when the characters interacted with each other. What comes after the pound sign got me to understand more about the world and Nel's relation with it than what's before if that makes any sense. Before, for a moment, I wasn't sure if she was some kind of god or something, then maybe a magician.

I still don't understand the relation between the galaxies and storms and what is the commune exactly but maybe that's how it should be.

I think young adult readers prefer to be more into action where you have a lot of descriptions. The part where Nel is in different hearths is interesting but it drags in descriptions which are well written so again, i think it could work in adult fantasy, but not sure YA readers like it as much.

I hope I didn't sound too mean. Basically my main gripes are your target audience versus your writing and the world building at the start of your chapter. That's it. Personally I would cut the first part, start with the commune and when she enters Ducho's hearth and try to put the world building either in the dialogue or fragment it throughout the dialogues. 

thanks again for reading mine
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