Author Topic: Hiraeth (YA Fantasy)  (Read 33 times)

Offline bibliophile22

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Hiraeth (YA Fantasy)
« on: June 30, 2020, 07:56:09 PM »
I've posted the first five pages already, but as I'm done with chapter one now, I would appreciate any and all constructive criticism/feedback! I've posted this one before, but since then I have changed the entire premise and rewritten the entire thing, so it's pretty much nothing like the first time I posted. Thanks!



ONE

The first time Maeve killed someone had been an accident. Every time after that would be revenge.

Thunder boomed in the distance as Maeve stood on the small balcony of the apartment she shared with her mother.
Thoughts of the life she had taken and the lives she planned to take remained ever-present in her mind, though her first was the one that stood out. Her father’s death had been the thing that left Maeve with little empathy in her heart.

Blue swirls of magic escaped her fingers to wrap around a dying flower. The dark purple plant regained its color and straightened, blooming once again as life was breathed back into it. She could bring this plant back to life a million times, but there was nothing she could do for her own father. Squeezing her hand into a fist angrily, Maeve watched as the life left the flower all at once, the pretty thing shriveling up and dying before her eyes.

For a moment, Maeve let herself pretend her mother was there. She could smell her familiar scent — something like apples and cinnamon — and see the way her face would shift into an expression of disappointment and fear. She would tell Maeve that she knew magic was meant to be gone; she would warn her of what would happen if she were caught.

Sighing angrily, Maeve turned and went back inside her tiny apartment. The place was so lifeless, so empty of color and laughter. Had Maeve not been forced to leave the children’s home she had grown up in at the age of seventeen, she would have remained there indefinitely. The home had always been filled with some noise or another, something to keep Maeve’s mind distracted. Here, in the place she called home, she could never escape her thoughts.

By the time Maeve exited her apartment building into the street, rain had just begun to fall from the sky. The drops were cold, almost threatening, as they landed against Maeve’s dyed-red hair. She preferred the bright color to her original blonde, which reminded her all too much of the traits she shared with her dead parents.

The children’s home came into view and Maeve entered without knocking, shaking her red curls free of the rain. She knew that if any of the kids had seen her, they would have compared her to their dog, Shaggy. Much the same way they compared her hair to ketchup.

“Maevey!” A blonde bob of hair ran into Maeve’s arms with a high-pitched squeal.

“Hi, Brighton,” Maeve said, lifting the small girl to her hip. “How was class today? Did you learn anything new?”

Brighton grinned to reveal a missing front tooth. “We learned about the Trials!” she exclaimed; Maeve forced her own smile to remain in place. The Trials was why she was there at all.

“Oh, yeah? What about them?”

“The king is gonna choose a princess! Do you think I’ll be a princess one day?” Brighton’s eyes grew wide at the mere idea. Her mark was just beginning to show, a tiny black swirl making itself present just above her right eye. All Fae had them, all in the same place. It was the only thing that made them distinguishable between the humans.

Maeve chuckled as her house mother, Miss R, descended the stairs. “I’m sure you can do anything you set your mind to,
Bri,” Maeve said, putting the girl down. “Now, go play while I talk to Miss R.”

Brighton did as she was told, taking off down the narrow corridor.

Miss R was staring at Maeve expectantly, her wrinkled hands clasped in front of her. The woman was all sharp edges and stern lines, but Maeve knew her better than anyone. Beneath that hard exterior was a soft and caring woman, who had chosen to care for kids who did not have the luxury of parents, rather than conceiving her own. There were many who did not like Miss R, but there were none who disrespected her.

“I received your letter,” Miss R said, blue eyes watching Maeve in suspicion as Maeve had known she would. “Why on earth would you want to take part in the Trials?”

Maeve had gone over her story time and time again with herself but standing in front of the woman who was the closest thing to a parent she had…lying was going to be more difficult that she thought.

“I have no family, aside from you,” Maeve said. “I have nothing keeping me here. And I want more for myself. I’m sure you can understand that, Miss R.”

Miss R stared at Maeve for a long moment. She had heard Maeve express her distaste for the Trials time and time again.
She did not know the true story of how Maeve’s family had fallen apart, but Maeve trusted the woman more than anyone in the world. And Miss R knew Maeve better than anyone.

Finally, releasing a sigh, Miss R nodded. “Okay, I will sponsor you,” she said. “However, seeing as I am the only thing standing between you and the Trials, I want you to promise me something.” Maeve swallowed and nodded. “If you are chosen to wed the prince, you will not tarnish my name. I have other children to worry about, and though I love you as if you were my own, I will not have the wellbeing of these children put at risk. Not even for you.” Maeve nodded once again.
“If you step out of line or do anything that would cause trouble for the other children, I will rescind my sponsorship and you will be expelled from the palace. Do you understand?”

Maeve nodded a final time, almost painfully. She knew she was lying, and she wondered silently if Miss R already knew as much as well. However, Maeve did not plan on being expelled from the palace. Once she took the royal family out, she knew she, too, would be put to death.

“Good,” Miss R said with a thin smile. “There’s only three days until the Trials, so let’s find you something to wear.”

Maeve followed Miss R, pushing her guilt aside. The house mother led her up the stairs and down the hall, stopping outside a room with loud music coming from the other side. Her house brother, Remy, was the token fashionista of the children’s home, and Maeve trusted that he would not steer her wrong with her attire.

Though her attire would hardly matter when she used her magic.

Remy opened the door after Miss R’s hard knock. One side of his head was shaved, the other side dark and voluminous enough on its own. He had extended his mark, a tattoo drawing out the dark line into a flowery design on the bare side of his scalp.

Remy’s face brightened at the sight of Maeve. “What are you doing here?” he asked, voice several octaves too deep for a fifteen-year-old.

“She is to join the Trials in a few days,” Miss R answered.

Remy grinned. “I thought you hated the Trials. Oh, well,” he continued, not giving Maeve enough time to confirm or deny the thought. “I’m glad you changed your mind. I’ve been planning your outfits for months, begging the gods for a chance to let you wear them.” Remy moved aside for Maeve and Miss R to enter his small room. “It seems my prayers have been answered!”

Though the room was small, Remy used every inch to his advantage. The bed was the only thing out of place. The walls all contained hooks, which each either held a finished garment or one in the works. Rolls of fabrics were leaned against every wall, a few half-bodied mannequins stood against one wall, and a sewing machine was on a narrow desk that took up the majority of the closet. Small boxes filled the top shelf of the closet, with pin cushions and sewing tape littering the floor.

“So, you just knew I would decide to take place in the Trials, huh?” Maeve asked, still looking about Remy’s room as he shuffled through a rack of his finished garments.

Remy shrugged, finally pulling free three separate outfits. “I had a hunch,” he said.

Maeve let her eyes land on the glittering black gown Remy now held out for her to inspect. The sleeves were off-the-shoulder and made of lace, reaching down the length of the arms. The bodice was strapless, made of black silk with glitter that sparkled like the night sky with every movement, while the skirts were made of light gray tulle over more sleek silk. A slit in the skirts reached mid-thigh.

“Remy, you’ve truly outdone yourself,” Maeve said in awe.

Remy shrugged, doing his best to remain humble. “I know you need a garment for each of the three trails, so I made all three,” he said.

“They’re all black,” Miss R noted.

“Black is Maeve’s color,” Remy responded. “Plus, with that hair, she’ll stick out like a sore thumb, and that’s what we want, right?”

“You’ve put a lot of thought into this,” Miss R said, reaching out a hand and fingering the lace of the sleeves.

Remy shrugged. “What else do I have to do?” he said before holding out the next outfit. “This one is for the second trial.”

Black leggings reached the floor. A plain black tunic with long sleeves hung over the leggings; a thigh strap also dangled from the top of the hanger. Maeve assumed it was simply for fashion, as no weapons were permitted in any of the trials.

“And this one,” Remy continued, finally holding out the last garment, “is the for the final trial.”

“Assuming I make it that far,” Maeve said, though she did have her secret weapon if she were about to be eliminated from the competition. The royal family would not be able to resist marrying their beloved prince to someone with magic.

“I’m not sure what you plan to present for the final trial,” Remy said, expression a bit sheepish, “but I do know you hate dresses.”

A shimmery black top caught Maeve’s attention. The sleeves reached just past the elbows; the fabric of the sleeves was something like mesh, but softer and more sexy. The torso bit of the top was like that of a bustier, reaching just above the belly button, and tight-fitting. Leather pants also hung from the clothing hanger.

Maeve traced the neckline of the bustier top. “You really want me to catch the prince’s attention, huh?” she mused. “I love it. And my boots will go perfectly with all three.”

Remy made a face. “Tragically, I have no shoes to offer, so you will have to wear those hideous boots.”

Maeve and even Miss R laughed. Maeve thanked Remy with a kiss on his cheek, took her three outfits, and followed Miss R downstairs to the front door.

“I’ll enter your name, along with my sponsorship, into the competition,” Miss R said. “Every one of the other twenty-four noble houses will surely be entering their eligible daughters and sons in the Trials. Do you truly believe you will win the favor of the prince and his family?”

Maeve smiled. “I know I will,” she said. “Have some faith in me, Miss R,” Maeve added as she left the children’s home.

#

Most noble families lived in the palace, which was situated right smack in the center of Trimeon. Maeve, however, was not part of a noble family and lived on the outskirts of Trimeon, leaving her to travel several hours to even make it to the
Trials on time. Had Miss R not used her own status as noble blood to enter Maeve in the Trials, she would not have been permitted entry at all.

The large trunk Maeve was half-dragging down the sidewalk contained the three outfits Remy had made for her, along with several large tomes about magic that had been passed down through several generations. It was times like these she wished she was not against using human as servants as the rest of the world now did. Instead, she was left to tote her heavy trunk more than a few blocks to the shuttle stop all by herself.

By the time Maeve did reach the shuttle stop, her arms were leaden from carrying the trunk, and her back was aching.
The shuttle was already present, the driver and his human footman waiting by the door. The human boy was slightly younger than Maeve and kept his head bowed, hands clasped in front of him, awaiting orders from the Fae driver.

“Lady Maeve Riva?” the driver inquired, stepping towards Maeve.

Maeve chuckled lightly. “I’m no Lady,” she said. “Please, just call me Maeve.”

The driver nodded once. “You are attending the Trials under the name of Lady Renalda Valt,” he explained. “Her name has given you the title of Lady.”

Maeve forced an awkward smile. She was not sure how she felt about the title, especially considering her plans. Miss R would certainly not be happy Maeve was further ruining her good name.

“Seventeen!” the driver shouted suddenly, causing Maeve to startle. The human boy rushed over to stay beside the driver, nearly tripping over his own feet in his haste. He kept his head down, knowing he was not allowed to look Maeve nor the driver in the eyes. A dumb rule, but one that would have him beheaded if he were to disobey it.

Seventeen bowed nervously.

“Load Lady Riva’s trunk in the shuttle,” the driver commanded. “Quickly!” Seventeen jumped and grabbed Maeve’s trunk, having to half-drag the heavy thing as she had.

Maeve swallowed and looked away from the boy. How she wished to speak up on his behalf. That, however, would certainly label her as a human sympathizer and ruin any chance she would have at winning the Trials, her place at the prince’s side, and thus, her revenge.

The shuttle ride was a mostly silent one. As this was the only shuttle that went back and forth to the palace, it was empty, save for Maeve, the driver, and Seventeen, who was sitting a couple seats behind her in utter silence, eyes trained straight ahead. Maeve sighed, hoping she would be able to bite her tongue about the treatment of humans long enough to carry out her plans.

Traveling from the outskirts of Trimeon meant passing through the swamps of the smaller villages, the poorest places in the large country. Here, the houses were made from the tall sprike trees, whose wood beneath the bark was as red as the blood that ran through Maeve’s veins. The tiny villages looked like a blurry scarlet river as they passed, the driver not slowing down for the rough terrain and leaving Maeve and Seventeen to bounce harshly about the back of the cabin.

Maeve was not sure when she had fallen asleep — certainly sometime after they were back on smooth roads again — but when she woke up, it was to the sound of loud chatter. The sun was now high in the sky as the driver rudely instructed
Seventeen to unload Maeve’s trunk and helped Maeve off the shuttle himself.

As soon as her feet hit the ground, she was bombarded with flashing cameras and a thousand questions. The driver was little help as he suddenly decided Seventeen could use assistance with Maeve’s trunk.

“Who are you to Lady Valt?” one reporter asked.

“Do you think you have a chance at winning?” another said.

Question after question, most of them repeating, assaulted Maeve’s ears as she shoved her way through the crowd of journalists and flashing lights. She had just reached the door of the large amphitheater, when one question caught her attention.

“Do you still want to marry the prince knowing they put your mother to death?”

Maeve whirled around and glared at the smirking reporter. That smirk was victorious. Everyone else was silent now, awaiting Maeve’s response to the daring question.

Regaining her composure, Maeve smiled. “Who wouldn’t want to be queen?” she asked.

Once hidden inside the theater, the large wooden doors between her and the leeches outside, Maeve dropped the smile, her hands shaking in anger. How did this reporter know who her mother was? Maeve had clearly underestimated the lengths people would go to have a good story, especially involving the royal family, or any contenders for being a part of the royal family. Then again, surely the royal family themselves had to know everything about every one of the twenty-five contestants. Would the fact they had killed her mother ruin her chances?

No. Her magic may be her backup plan, but it was also the one thing that would secure her place as princess.

A human handmaiden approached Maeve; she had a group of other humans behind her, all dressed identically in the same dress pants and white button-down blouse. Each of them had her hair in a tight bun, and their faces pointed downward, save for the one currently addressing Maeve.

“Lady Rivas?” the handmaiden said. “I’m Three. We are to escort you to the dressing rooms to prepare you for the introductions and the first trial.”

Maeve nodded and allowed her anger to dissipate for the moment, following the group of handmaidens through the theater. One hall cut to the left, where guards stood, allowing no one entrance. Maeve suspected that was where the royal family were being kept until the show was to begin. Three led Maeve down the opposite hall on the right, past a series of doors. Some were cracked, revealing one girl or another shouting at her handmaidens or seamstress.

Three stopped near the end of the long hall at a door labeled, Valt. Maeve ignored the pang in her chest that reminded
her just how much she would be hurting her adoptive mother in her search for revenge. Every mention of Miss R gave
Maeve paused and she hated that. She did not want to reconsider or even reconsider reconsidering what she had come to do. This family had taken all she had, and she planned to make them pay for it.

“Lady Rivas?” Three asked, holding the door open.

Maeve forced a smile to her lips and entered the room. The carpet here was plush and sank beneath Maeve’s boots, her
tread leaving prints that quickly disappeared as the carpet regained its shape. A long black sofa was against the far wall, while a pearl-colored vanity occupied another. Powders and lip stains and eye shadings littered the vanity, and Maeve wondered if she would be forced to put all of that on her face.

One of the other handmaidens pulled out the chair of the vanity and nodded to it. Maeve nodded in return and sat. She knew the handmaidens were not permitted to speak, aside from their lead handmaiden. In this case, that was Three.

“The ball will begin in two hours’ time,” Three said, rummaging through Maeve’ trunk. She had not noticed it on the floor a few feet away, but now that she did, she realized how out-of-place the tattered thing was in the luxurious room.

Three lifted the black ball gown from Maeve’s trunk and stared at it in awe. “Wow,” the handmaiden standing by Maeve’s chair said, before smacking a hand over her mouth in panic.

“It’s okay,” Maeve said. “I won’t tell.” Almost as an afterthought, she added, “And none of you will, either.” All the handmaidens nodded, and the one by Maeve breathed in relief, but remained silent.

“Who made this?” Three asked, inspecting the gown for a signature. Most seamstresses or tailors left their signature somewhere in their work.

Maeve smiled, thinking of Remy. “A close friend of mine,” she replied. “His signature is sewn inside the bodice. A crescent moon.”

“He’s very skilled,” Three said. “Perhaps if you were to win the crown, he could come to the palace? I’d love to meet him and learn a few things.”

“Of course!” Maeve exclaimed, knowing Remy would adore such an idea. Surely, she could make time before she put her plans into action.

One of the other handmaidens, moved to stand in front of Maeve and Three, pointing to her wrist to indicate they were under time constraints.

“Right, right, I’m getting carried away,” Three said. “Let’s get you dressed. We have much to do before the introductions begin.”

Maeve undressed from her pants and tee, allowing the handmaidens to dress her in the elaborate ball gown. She smiled when the gown fit perfectly. Remy truly was an artist. The lace sleeves climbed up her arms, stopping just before her shoulders, and the glittering black bodice stood out against her pale skin. The slit in her skirts reached mid-thigh, drawing just enough attention her long legs.

“We should dye your hair,” Three said, digging through the drawers of the vanity.

“What? Why?” Maeve asked.

Three straightened. She now held dye spray. “The prince’s favorite color is blue,” she explained.

Maeve snickered. “Do you think I care what the prince’s favorite color is?” The handmaidens all stared at Maeve in horror.
“Look, I’m sorry. I’m not dying my hair to impress the prince.”

“Surely you wish to win?”

“Surely. But I’m willing to bet every other contestant out there is going to have hair one shade of blue or another. Why not stand out?” Besides, Maeve thought. I’ll win, regardless of my hair color.

Three smiled. “Fair enough. Have a seat. Your makeup —”

Maeve pointed at the vanity in doubt. “I’m not wearing all that. A little liner for my eyes and some stain for my lips will suffice.”

The handmaidens all looked at one another again. Maeve had a feeling they were not used to people turning down such luxurious things as these. Makeup no one in the room, even Maeve, would be able to afford in a hundred years. Hair dye to please the one person the contestants — Maeve — was there to impress.

“At least let me fix your hair, then?” Three said. Maeve got the feeling the woman just needed something to keep her hands busy.

Shrugging, she took her seat at the vanity. “Have at it.”

Three took to braiding Maeve’s short hair to look like a crown, braiding in pearls here and there. Two of the other handmaidens did Maeve’s makeup, lining her eyes lightly in black, and staining her full lips with red to match her hair.

“Lovely!” Maeve said with a smile, jumping from her chair. “When do the introductions start?”

Just as the words left her mouth, a horn sounded over a loudspeaker.

“Now,” Three said with a grin.