Author Topic: YA Fantasy  (Read 144 times)

Offline bibliophile22

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YA Fantasy
« on: September 20, 2021, 09:58:29 PM »
Mia pressed herself as close against the wall as possible, feeling as though she may sink into it. The darkness of the alley concealed her well, but she needed to be on the top floor of this building, meaning she would have to scale it and risk being seen. Ah, well. Where was the fun in playing it safe?

Smiling to herself, Mia took the steps two at a time up the fire escape. It stopped after the second floor, however, leaving Mia to climb the other four herself. She hoisted herself onto the railing of the fire escape; her balance was impeccable. A pipe ran along the side of the building a few feet up. Stretching, Mia loosed a slow breath and jumped. Her hands gripped the pipe tightly.

The rest of the climb would be a piece of cake. Mia moved down the pipe, hand-over-hand, until she reached the next set of windows.
These windows had ledges, making it easy for Mia to climb, and faster. The muscles in her arms contracted with each leap to the ledge above, and she could feel the cool night breeze as it blew against the sweat beading on her brow. She hadn’t done this in a while, having been too preoccupied with other so-called duties, and oh how she had missed it.

Mia hesitated at the window to the top floor. The curtains were closed so she couldn’t see a thing. Heaving a sigh, she pulled herself over the side of the building’s roof. She had been watching her target every night for months. Night was the only time she could escape, but it was enough.

The door to the stairwell was propped open and Mia entered it cautiously. She could not be seen, not just because of what she was about to do, but because of who she was. No one outside the Veil could ever see her face, or it would mean trouble for a lot of people.
Most of whom Mia cared nothing for, but the few she did care for was enough to make her stay hidden.

Mia slid along the wall in the darkness, taking the steps silently to the floor below. The hallway was lit, but only barely. This building was old not well maintained. The scent of mildew and dust alone was enough to tell Mia that much.

The scarf over her face was pulled up to just below her eyes and the hood she wore hung low, shielding her from anyone who may be lurking in the halls at this hour. Quickly and silently, Mia moved through the hall, but it didn’t take her long to reach. The numbers on the door were faded and one was missing altogether. Mia tried the doorknob, surprised when it easily turned. These people were really stupid, weren’t they?

Mia slipped inside the apartment, closing the door quietly after her. The room was dark, especially with the curtains drawn. She could only barely see the outline of the furniture; a television on the far side of the room in front of a couch. And on the couch, the man Mia was looking for. She pulled the thin piece of wire from inside her sleeve, but before she had a chance to take another step, an arm wrapped around her neck from behind. Without even thinking, Mia’s elbow dug into the attacker’s gut, eliciting a grunt from him. She grabbed him by the arm that was around her neck and used all her weight to flip him over her shoulders, throwing him to the ground.

“Dammit, Mia! Chill!” a familiar voice said from the floor. “It’s just me.”

“Echo, what the hell?” Mia responded, hoping the agitation was clear in her voice. “What are you doing here?”

Echo stood, dusting himself off and stretching. He was sure to feel that tomorrow. Good.

He reached around her to flip on a lamp; he was grinning. “I told you, you gotta be quicker,” he said.

Mia looked over at the man on the couch, who had yet to move, even with all the commotion Echo had caused. He was already dead.

“Dammit, Echo,” Mia cursed. “I’m sick of you stealing my kills.”

Echo had the gall to laugh as he flipped the lamp back off and headed for the window. Mia followed him, half-tempted to push him out the damned thing. Instead, she followed him out, closing the window after her and climbing back down to the dark alley below. The two of them walked in silence, taking back alleys for several blocks, and then the dirt path that would eventually lead them back to the Veil.

Now that they were free of the city, Mia took her hood off and lowered her scarf, shaking her black hair free of its tie. The wind combed through it, vowing to leave it in a tangled mess, but Mia didn’t mind. Having to hide herself from head to toe left her missing the fresh breeze and the feel of it on her face.

“Can’t believe you’re supposed to be the best,” Echo said, ready to get back to annoying Mia to no end. It was his specialty. “I beat you every time. Maybe you’re getting slow in your old age.”

Mia punched him in the arm, happy when she elicited a wince. “I’m only a year older than you, idiot,” she said. “You keep stealing my kills because you know my schedule and how I like to work. Not because you’re better than me.”

“Touchy, touchy. Is it menopause already?”

“Do you wanna die, Fren?” Mia asked, using Echo’s real last name; he rolled his eyes.

“Maybe the gods will save you some trouble and let the Empty take me,” he said, sticking his tongue out and playing dead as they still walked.

Mia scoffed. “I should be so lucky.”

The forest began to grow denser, the light of the moon only barely able to penetrate the canopy of trees above them. Echo grabbed Mia by the hand and she shook her head in the darkness. He always said it was to keep them both from tripping up, but she suspected he was a little afraid of the dark forest. That was one thing she never teased him about, though. After the way he’d grown up before coming to the Veil, there was probably a reason for his fears.

Slowly, the trees began to thin out until the forest opened to a large clearing. Echo quickly dropped Mia’s hand and she pretended nothing had even happened. The small village was silent at this hour, just before dawn, all the lights out. The clearing was surrounded by trees and high grass, but it wasn’t like anyone was going to come to the Veil, anyway. Master Keo had made sure of that with his far-fetched tales and rumors of cursed land and spirits.

They stopped outside the small building Mia and a few other girls shared. Here, in the moonlight, she could see Echo’s dumb face and how the wind had blown his dark hair from its tie, leaving it a mess. Mia pulled the tie the rest of the way loose and handed it to Echo.
“You look horrible,” she said. “Be sure to shower in the morning.”

“Thanks for walking me home, Echo,” he said sarcastically as Mia went inside and closed the door.

###

Morning came too soon, the sun rising and hurting Mia’s eyes as it landed through the windows. Mia and the other girls slept on the floor of their small building. It didn’t do much for Mia’s back, but she rarely got to sleep as it was. Between training and sneaking around all night, she hardly had the time. Eventually, the lack of sleep would take its toll on her, leaving her to sleep for an entire day, straight through morning drills, lunch, evening drills, and even dinner. Those days were fun, until she woke up the next morning to a punishment.
Usually, it was to clean the entire village, top to bottom, end to end, which wasn’t too bad. The village was barely big enough to be called a village anyway.

Other times, though, when Master Keo was in a particularly sour mood, he would punish Mia by making her spar with everyone, one at a time. The only setback there was that she would have her hands tied behind her back. On those days, Mia often needed assistance getting home, and her bruises took weeks to fully disappear. It was also on those days that Mia desperately wished to turn Master Keo in. The act would earn her no friends or favors, and she knew she would never do it anyway. Master Keo had saved her; she owed him her life.

“Better get up,” one of the girls, Annis, said, walking past where Mia still lay. “Keo wasn’t very happy with you last night.”

Mia’s brows knit together. “What?” she said, sitting up. “Why?”

Annis shrugged. “He doesn’t tell me anything. I heard him scolding Echo last night when I went to pee.”

Shaking her head, Mia got out of bed. She needed to shower and change, among other things, but she was tired and irritable, and frankly: in the mood to argue. Master Keo was always angry with her over one thing or another these days, and she was getting quite sick of it. As much as Mia loved the man and as much as she owed him, she could hardly stand his self-righteous attitude.

Mia spotted Master Keo in his usual place beneath the weeping willow as soon as she exited her building. The pit of her stomach twisted, partially in anger and partially in fear. Anger because Keo had no reason to be upset with her; fear because Mia’s bruises from her previous punishment had just cleared up. She wasn’t sure she could handle anymore so soon.

Before she could step a foot towards Master Keo, a hand wrapped around her arm, halting her in place. Mia glanced up to see Echo; though he was only a couple inches taller than her, he still found a way to tower over her at times like these. Echo was shaking his head. Of course he knew what she was about to do. He always seemed to know and he always seemed to be there to stop Mia from doing something stupid. Annoying.

“I can tell you what he’s mad about,” Echo said. “Don’t go over there and cause a scene and get yourself into more trouble.”

Mia pulled her arm from Echo’s grasp, but didn’t move. “Fine,” she said. “What is it?”

Echo glanced at Master Keo, who was already watching the two of them. His black hair was blowing freely in the wind; even from where she stood, Mia could see the gray there. He hadn’t been gray when she’d first met him, but she supposed that came with the stress of raising and training thirty kids to be killers.

“Come on,” Echo said. “You can help me weed the garden today.”

Mia rolled her eyes, following him. “This was just some excuse to get me to help you, wasn’t it?” she asked. Echo only laughed.

On the far side of the clearing sat a bundle of trees, tall pines that looked as if they could reach out and touch the heavens themselves.
Mia had a habit of looking up at them as she approached, wishing silently that she was like the trees, able to escape the earth and have the freedom of feeling the air on her face, not having to hide. Foolish, she knew. By the time they reached the thicket of trees, Mia had brought her mind back down to earth. The ground here was a tangle of roots and smelled of pine, a scent that Mia had always adored. It reminded her of the pureness of the earth, and how much she hated the city.

The river was calm today, since there hadn’t been rain in about a week. Their garden was along the riverbank so they never had to worry much about watering the crops. The one thing they really had to worry about was deer and other critters creeping in and eating them. Usually, they had someone standing guard, but Mia could tell by the half-eaten tomato at her feet that hadn’t been the case the night before.

“Why weed a garden if we’re just gonna let the deer have it all?” Mia asked aloud.

Echo wasn’t weeding the garden, anyway, though. He was staring at Mia, arms crossed. She rolled her eyes; when Echo stood in that position, looking at her that way, she knew she was about to receive a lecture. And here she thought he was supposed to be on her side here.

“What is it?” Mia asked. “Just hurry and spit it out. What did I do this time?”

“Someone came looking for you last night,” Echo said. “It was while we were both in the city. That means someone had to have followed you back from one of your stakeouts.”

“I know what it means,” Mia snapped. Her heart had plummeted to her feet at his words, and she felt bile rising in her throat. No wonder Master Keo was so angry with her. She hadn’t paid attention and had led someone straight to their camp. Now, they would have to move. They would have to start all over again, somewhere new, somewhere far away.

Echo snapped his fingers in her face, and for once, Mia didn’t slap him away. Tears had welled in her eyes, and she realized for the first time in her life, she was actually scared. “I didn’t mean to,” she whispered.

Sighing, Echo pulled her into his arms. He was warm, but he did nothing to soothe the chill that had suddenly made itself at home in Mia’s bones. “It’s gonna be fine,” Echo lied. “We’ll figure it out.”

The sun had nearly disappeared by the time Mia had the courage to return to the Veil. She knew before she saw him that Master Keo was waiting for her. She was slightly surprised he had waited so long for her, especially considering the dire circumstances. According to
Echo, Keo had yet to tell anyone that Mia had destroyed their home, but a lot of time had passed since Echo had even spoken to Master Keo. Surely, the man had alerted everyone by now.

Echo moved to follow Mia to the weeping willow, but she stopped him. “I should go alone,” she said. “I’ll come see you after.” Echo nodded and stayed back, though Mia could tell he didn’t want to.

Master Keo watched Mia as she made her way through the small village and up the hill to where he sat. Keo had spent so much time in that spot that grass didn’t grow there anymore. He now brought a small blanket with him to sit on, rather than rest on the hard dirt.
The weeping willow was old, its branches stretching wide and its leaves hanging low to the ground. Master Keo’s spot was the coolest place in summer, the huge tree providing the best shade in the clearing.

Mia swallowed and took a seat beside Master Keo. Here, she could see the light lines of wrinkles on his hands and under his brown eyes.

“I take it Echo told you,” Master Keo said without looking at her.

“Yes,” Mia said quietly. “I’m so sorry, Master Keo —”

“They brought you this.” He produced a small envelope from his sleeve. “It’s a letter.”

Mia didn’t reach for the letter, afraid of what it might be. “From who?” she asked.

“Your mother.” Mia froze. “She wants to see you.”

###

Mia sat by the river, reading the letter for what had to be the hundredth time since Master Keo had given it to her. The sun was due to come up at any moment, but Mia couldn’t stop reading over the words from her mother. Her mother. She hadn’t seen or heard from the woman, or anyone else in her family since she was a baby. Hell, if it hadn’t been for Master Keo telling her where she came from, Mia wouldn’t even know she had another family.

But she did know, and she knew why she hadn’t seen her family since the day she was born. She knew why she had to hide her face when she went anywhere outside the Veil. What she didn’t know was why they would want to see her now, over eighteen years later. What had changed? The letter was certainly no help, just five little words in her mother’s elegant scrawl, I need to see you, and a signature at the bottom.

Shaking her head, Mia tore the paper to shreds and tossed the pieces into the river. None of this mattered. Her family was here, in the Veil. Her family was Echo and Master Keo and every other kid she’d been raised with. None of them had anywhere else to go, no one else to call family. And as far as Mia was concerned, neither did she. The Veil was her home, these people were her family, and she wanted nothing to do with the woman who called herself her mother.

A blanket draped over Mia’s shoulders and she glanced over to see Echo taking a seat beside her. The two of them had been with
Master Keo the longest of anyone still there. Echo had arrived at the Veil only days after Mia herself. At the time, there had only been older kids, the ones who had grown up there and were ready to move on. Mia and Echo had stuck together, and they’d been close ever
since. Now, they were the older kids, and they were supposed to be going out on their own, but the thought terrified them both. The
Veil had changed a lot over the years; now, there was no one to take care of the children, aside from other children, and Master Keo was growing tired of training and caring for them in his old age.

Perhaps it was time for the Veil to come to an end.

“That bad, huh?” Echo asked, picking at a piece of grass. His hair was free of its usual tie and slightly mussed from sleep.

Mia shrugged. “My mother wants to see me,” she said.

“Are you gonna do it?”

“Of course not.”

Echo pulled his knees up to rest his elbows on them and looked over at her. “What if she wants you to come home?” he asked.

“This is my home,” Mia replied. “Besides, if she wanted me, she wouldn’t have sent me here in the first place.”

“Then what do you think she wants?”

“I don’t know,” Mia said, getting to her feet and dusting herself off. “And I don’t care.” A lie, and they both knew it. Thankfully, Echo didn’t call her out on it.

The two of them made their way back to camp. Mia was determined to have a normal day. She didn’t want to think about her so-called family, the ones who didn’t even want her to begin with, and she certainly didn’t want to think about whatever it was they could want from her. Master Keo had told her that they wouldn’t have to move camps, and so Mia just wanted to get back to training as normal.
There was something squirming inside her, some emotion she couldn’t explain. Perhaps kicking the sh** out of Echo would help.

The village was just beginning to wake up when they made it back. The scent of woodsmoke and breakfast wafted on the air, causing
Mia’s stomach to growl, but she pushed thoughts of food aside. She didn’t have an appetite, no matter what her complaining belly said.
Her tired limbs were aching from having not rested, and her eyes burned, but she didn’t care. Though her body was tired, her mind was racing, and she needed to shut it up.

“Where have you been?” Annis asked, approaching Mia and Echo. “We’ve already started morning chores, and if you don’t start yours soon, I’m worried Keo is gonna make me do ‘em.”

Echo raised a brow. “Like we haven’t done your chores before,” he said. “Y’know, when you and Dera decide to take off and —”

Annis slapped a hand to Echo’s mouth. “First of all, Echo, mind your own business,” she snapped. “Who knows what you two do all the time when you’re off alone together. Second, I’m tired of doing Mia’s chores because she wants to sulk about who knows what.”

Mia laughed. “Wow, Annis, tell me how you really feel,” she said. Even though Annis was a pain in the ass, Mia didn’t dislike the girl. In fact, she quite enjoyed her spunk and straight-forward attitude.

“Whatever,” Annis said, clearly not amused. “Just do your chores so we can get to training. It’s supposed to rain later, and I don’t want a repeat of last week. My training clothes took two days to dry out.”

Annis walked away, shaking her head. Sometimes Mia forgot the girl was only fifteen; she certainly acted older than her age.

Echo glanced at Mia sidelong, a mischievous grin playing at his lips. “Same as usual?” he asked, referring to their usual bet.

Mia smirked. “Double or nothing?” she countered.

Mia’s list of chores consisted of feeding the Veil’s two hogs, bathing the few smaller children left in the village, and cleaning out the stoves in the kitchen. She and Echo always made bets on who could get finished first. The loser had to complete the winner’s chores for the next two days with no complaints. Well, the no complaining part usually didn’t go so well.

By the time Mia had fed the hogs and bathed the children, Echo was waiting for her at the door to the kitchen. His last chore was scrubbing the floorboards, and by the way he was grinning, he’d already finished. Mia glared at him and passed him by, making her way into the shabby building. The entire kitchen was clean, aside from the wood stoves, which were covered in black soot. Even the floor under the stoves were shining.

“How did you get finished so fast?” Mia asked, slightly annoyed at having lost again. This was the third time in a row. Add to this the fact Echo kept stealing her kills, and she was growing more and more unhappy with her supposed best friend.

Echo’s grin spread; his smile was white and one of his front teeth was a little crooked. “I told you, you’re getting slow in your old age,” he replied.

“We’ll see who’s slow when I kick your ass in training,” Mia retorted. “Let’s go.”

The training area was a small clearing surrounded by trees. The dirt was packed down by years’ worth of use, and plants no longer even bothered to grow there, instead sprouting around the outer perimeter of the sparring circle. One of the other assassins, Darryn, who was good with his hands, had built benches between the trees. That was where everyone who wasn’t currently sparring sat, watching and cheering until it was their turn. Much like Mia and Echo making bets with their chores, the others did the same, using their own chores to place bets on who they thought would win in the sparring matches that day. Even Master Keo made an appearance at training at least once a day.

Excited to get started, the entire village was already at the sparring place, taking their spots on the benches. Annis and Dera were sitting beside one another and Mia found herself smiling at them. Even though they always denied being anything but friends, it was easy to see the adoration the girls had for one another. Darryn was sitting on a bench, surrounded by children; he had always been the best with them. Which often made Mia wonder why she had been the one tasked with bathing them; they weren’t very fond of her, and the feeling was quite mutual. That being said, she would never let anything happen to the little brats.

Master Keo was already there as well, having a bench all to himself. His graying hair was pulled back from his face in a low ponytail, and his expression was somber as he watched Mia and Echo take their places in the center of the sparring circle.

“Ready to lose, Miss Bishop?” Echo taunted.

Mia laughed. “On the contrary, I’m ready to kick your scrawny ass,” she replied.

Echo shrugged and tied back his dark hair; Mia did the same.

“You guys know the rules,” Dera called. “No blood, whoever gets pinned first loses! Now, fight!”

Echo threw the first punch, but Mia was ready for him. He was almost too predictable, always beginning with the same move. Mia brought her leg up, hitting Echo in the ribs and knocking him sideways. He caught his footing with a chuckle, before sweeping his own leg under Mia and knocking her to the ground roughly. She rolled and jumped to her feet before Echo had a chance to move; Echo’s fist connected with her ribs and then her jaw in quick succession. Mia tasted blood in her mouth, but she didn’t spit it on the ground; she didn’t want this fight to end just yet, and drawing blood was a surefire way to do just that.

Swallowing the metallic liquid in her mouth, Mia gritted her teeth against the pain in her ribs and jaw. She kicked her foot out, landing a blow to the side of Echo’s knee and eliciting a sharp yelp from him. Echo fell to the dirt, clutching his knee in pain and glaring up at Mia.
She moved to pin him, but Echo rolled over and scrambled to his feet, wrapping his arm around Mia’s neck in a choke-hold.

“Too slow again,” he said quietly, though Mia could hear his own labored breathing.

Mia jabbed her elbow into Echo’s ribs, thinking how they were both going to be very sore later, and flipped him over her shoulders, much like she had the other night when he’d sneaked up on her. Echo landed on the hard ground with a thud and Mia straddled him, pinning his shoulders to the earth with a victorious grin.

“They’re here!” someone shouted. A lanky boy, Jerald was in charge of keeping watch for the afternoon. He was running towards them, entering the line of trees and not stopping until he was standing directly in front of Master Keo. “They said they’re here for Mia.”

Offline rivergirl

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Re: YA Fantasy
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2021, 08:52:15 PM »
I hate to see chapters go with no feedback. Because this is long, I just grabbed the first section.

Mia pressed herself as close against the wall as possible, feeling as though she may sink into it. The darkness of the alley concealed her well, but she needed to be on the top floor of this building, meaning she would have to scale it and risk being seen. Ah, well. Where was the fun in playing it safe? great first para

Smiling to herself, Mia took the steps two at a time up the fire escape. It stopped after the second floor, however, leaving Mia to climb the other four herself. She hoisted herself onto the railing of the fire escape; her balance was impeccable. A pipe ran along the side of the building a few feet up. Stretching, Mia loosed a slow breath and jumped. Her hands gripped the pipe tightly.

The rest of the climb would be a piece of cake. Mia moved down the pipe, hand-over-hand, until she reached the next set of windows.
These windows had ledges, making it easy for Mia to climb, and faster. The muscles in her arms contracted with each leap to the ledge above, and she could feel the cool night breeze as it blew against the sweat beading on her brow. She hadn’t done this in a while, having been too preoccupied with other so-called duties, and oh how she had missed it. substitute this boring "it" with the thing that she missed

Mia hesitated at the window toon? the top floor. The curtains were closed so she couldn’t see a thing. Heaving a sigh, she pulled herself over the side of the building’s roof. She had been watching her target every night for months. Night was the only time she could escape, but it was enough. what was enough

The door to the stairwell was propped open comma and Mia entered it cautiously. She could not be seen, not just because of what she was about to do, but because of who she was. No one outside the Veil could ever see her face, or it would mean trouble for a lot of people.
Most of whom Mia cared nothing for, but the few she did care for was enough to make her stay hidden.

Mia slid along the wall in the darkness, taking the steps silently to the floor below. The hallway was lit, but only barely. This building was old and not well maintained. The scent of mildew and dust alone was enough to tell Miaher that much.

The scarf over her face was pulled up to just below her eyes comma and the hood she wore hung low, shielding her from anyone who may be lurking in the halls at this hour. Quickly and silently, Mia moved through the hall, but it didn’t take her long to reach this sentence feels unfinished. It didn't take her long to reach what?. The numbers on the door were faded comma and one was missing altogether. Mia tried the doorknob, surprised when it easily turned. These people were really stupid, weren’t they?this feels like she's talking to the reader which is distracting.

Mia slipped inside the apartment, closing the door quietly after her. The room was dark, especially with the curtains drawn. She could only barely see the outline of the furniture;comma a television on the far side of the room in front of a couch. And on the couch, the man Mia was looking for. She pulled the thin piece of wire from inside her sleeve, but before she had a chance to take another step, an arm reached from behind and wrapped around her neck. wrapped around her neck from behind. Without even thinking, Mia’s elbow dug into the attacker’s gut, eliciting a grunt from him. the elbow dug feels like an accidental nudge. Put power behind it. Mia swung her elbow and sunk it deep into the attacker's gut She grabbed him by the arm that was around her neck and used all her weight to flip him over her shoulders, throwing him to the ground.

“Dammit, Mia! Chill!” a familiar voice said from the floor. “It’s just me.”

“Echo, what the hell?” Mia responded, hoping the agitation was clear in her voice.IT's clear “What are you doing here?”

Echo stood, dusting himself off and stretching. He was sure to feel that tomorrow. Good. . There's no evidence that Echo is injured here so Mias remarks don't make sense. Maybe have him take a limping step or rub her hip or something to suggest he's hurting

He reached around her to flip on a lamp; he was grinning. “I told you, you gotta be quicker,” he said.

Mia looked over at the man on the couch, who had yet to move, even with all the commotion Echo had caused. He was already dead. Let the reader see him too

“Dammit, Echo,” Mia cursed. “I’m sick of you stealing my kills.”

Echo had the gall to laugh as he flipped the lamp back off and headed for the window. Mia followed him, half-tempted to push him out the damned thing. Instead, she followed him out, closing the window after her and climbing back down to the dark alley below. The two of them walked in silence, taking back alleys for several blocks, and then the dirt path that would eventually lead them back to the Veil.

Now that they were free of the city, Mia took her hood off and lowered her scarf, shaking her black hair free of its tie. The wind combed through it, vowing to leave it in a tangled mess, but Mia didn’t mind. Having to hide herself from head to toe left her missing the fresh breeze and the feel of it on her face.

“Can’t believe you’re supposed to be the best,” Echo said, ready to get back to annoying Mia to no end. It was his specialty. “I beat you every time. Maybe you’re getting slow in your old age.”

Mia punched him in the arm, happy when she elicited a wince. “I’m only a year older than you, idiot,” she said. “You keep stealing my kills because you know my schedule and how I like to work. Not because you’re better than me.”

“Touchy, touchy. Is it menopause already?”

“Do you wanna die, Fren?” Mia asked, using Echo’s real last name; he rolled his eyes.

“Maybe the gods will save you some trouble and let the Empty take me,” he said, sticking his tongue out and playing dead as they still walked.

Mia scoffed. “I should be so lucky.”

The forest began to grow denser, the light of the moon only barely able to penetrate the canopy of trees above them. Echo grabbed Mia by the hand comma and she shook her head in the darkness. He always said it was to keep them both from tripping up, but she suspected he was a little afraid of the dark forest. That was one thing she never teased him about, though. After the way he’d grown up before coming to the Veil, there was probably a reason for his fears.

Slowly, the trees began to thin out until the forest opened to a large clearing. Echo quickly dropped Mia’s hand comma (okay, if there's a subject to go with the verb after the conjunction it gets a comma) and she pretended nothing had even happened. The small village was silent at this hour, just before dawn, all the lights out. The clearing was surrounded by trees and high grass, but it wasn’t like anyone was going to come to the Veil, anyway. Master Keo had made sure of that with his far-fetched tales and rumors of cursed land and spirits.

They stopped outside the small building Mia and a few other girls shared. Here, in the moonlight, she could see Echo’s dumb face and how the wind had blown his dark hair from its tie, leaving it a mess. Mia pulled the tie the rest of the way loose free and handed it to Echo.
“You look horrible,” she said. “Be sure to shower in the morning.”

“Thanks for walking me home, Echo,” he said sarcastically as Mia went inside and closed the door.

I enjoyed this bit! This is a new story, right? The MC has great voice and confidence with YA will find appealing. I'm concerned about the MC being a murderer so you might squeeze in here why the man needed to be killed.