Jaimie Krycho

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7:46 pm on Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

“Bloodlines,” pt. 15

It took the length of Lorin’s story for Jatan, Antian and Namiss to recover from their shock. Ileniel still insisted on muttering to himself from time to time, but Lorin pointedly ignored him.

“I should’ve pressed her more. I should’ve gotten to know her better,” Namiss said to her hands, sounding disconsolate.

She jerked her head up with suprrise when Lorin snorted a dry laugh, though it was Jatan who put voice to what he was thinking. “Pressed her? Namiss, you know Sifani was never one to respond to pressure, especially in respect to personal matters. She is —”

“Self-reliant?” Lorin supplied dryly. “Excellent at deceiving herself? Or perhaps the phrase you’re looking for is ‘infuriatingly slow to trust others.’”

“I suppose she can be all of those things,” Jatan conceded slowly, completely missing the humor.

Not that Lorin himself found any of this truly funny. The fire in the center of the room was yet burning, and the only thing that kept him from going mad with the inability to act was knowing that as long as the flames roared, Sifani was probably still alive inside them. “She was planning to tell you all, you know, but only after she had asked her questions of Ileniel. Unfortunately, her temper got the better of her, as it often does.”

“She’s not the only one who had information that needed sharing,” mild-mannered Antian asserted as he glared at Ileniel, more fiercely than Lorin knew him capable of. Of course. Antian would’ve expected the other scholar to share any information about the epheria with him, at the very least. “Your direct experience with a Reehler like Nume would’ve put much more meat on our research. Perhaps this crisis could’ve been averted if we’d had the information you chose to keep secret.”

The words, bordering on pugnacious, seemed to rouse Ileniel from his blubbering stupor. His back straightened suddenly, expression only barely under control. “You weren’t there!” he spat. “You don’t know the terror of it – the burden of an experience not many could comprehend and even fewer would believe. What was I to do with what I had seen, hm? Besides, you signed me on to study the epheria, not the Deities. I knew the roads had to cross again someday, but until then…”

“The roads are one and the same, Ileniel.” Lorin had only been half-listening to the scholars’ exchange, but Ileniel’s last sentence had caught his ear and he had replied idly. But now that he was considering it, just how closely _were_ the epheria and the Deities interconnected?

He was following the path of that thought when the steady crackling of the fire ring died suddenly. Lorin spun, frozen for the briefest moment, then bolted to the space where the flames had been burning. He was there before any of the others had time to do more than stand. Was Sifani still alive?

Lorin was supporting Sifani’s hunched body by the time he was able to process that she was standing somewhat on her own, blessedly living.

“Ow, Lorin. OW. Could you be a little more careful, please?” Sifani flinched, and Lorin eased his grip with the closest thing to embarassement he had felt in years. “I didn’t draw these cuts on myself, you know!”

“Ever the sweet and demure damsel,” he mumbled, mildly vexed. “I’m keeping you from falling onto your face right now, and this is the thanks I get?”

“I thought the familiarity of my actions might reassure you of my good health,” Sifani retorted, wincing as she clutched a particularly large gash on her shoulder. “Ho, Jatan! Think you could fix me up?”

Discordant voices began calling for bandages, crying out in concern, and swearing as Lorin turned, putting Sifani in full view. Finally, Ileniel ran for the medical supplies while the rest gathered around Sifani, trying not to crowd her with their bodies or their multitude of barely-restrained questions.

“She let you live!” Namiss exclaimed, sounding near to tears.

Sifani reached out and squeezed the girl’s hand. “That she did. At least, for now.”

Jatan had come up on Sifani’s other side to help hold her up, nodding across her drooping body to Lorin. “Your partner has been telling us very interesting stories about you, Sifani.” His smile was a mixture of warmth, relief and solicitude. “By all things holy, it is good to see you – more than I can properly express.”

Lorin waited for the older man to finish his salutation before he addressed Sifani again. “You said Nume let you live ‘for now.’” He wanted to stop and look her in the eye, but he and Jatan brought her to the bench by the wall and seated her, first. Silence hung heavy in the air as they did. “What do you mean, ‘for now?’”

Sifani inhaled deeply, taking in the face of each member of the band in turn. Finally, her gaze lighted on Lorin, and he saw distress behind it. “I made a bargain with my mother.” Another deep breath. “I am to meet her in the garden two days from now, to put myself into her power. And…I am to bring you with me, Lorin.”

He could not have been more surprised. “Me?”

She nodded, looking away as if ashamed.

“I — why?” Lorin forced his mind to stillness, though it resisted. “I’m a little too young for her, don’t you think?”

Sifani shot him a routine look of annoyance, but she didn’t answer. Before the pause had time to become uncomfortable, Ileniel trundled into the room with an armful of bandages and the small pouch that contained the needle and gut. It wasn’t hard for Lorin to detect that Sifani was relieved by the distraction, as she made a show of summoning Ileniel loudly and setting Jatan to the task of stitching her up at once.

Fortunately, Jatan wasn’t going to have it. “We’ll clean you up, Sifani, but then no more secrets,” he told her gently but firmly. “You must explain what happened between you and your mother just now, and why she has demanded that both you and Lorin come to her.”

Sifani nodded, looking sick. For some reason, Lorin felt the slightest bit sick, too, but he forced himself to grin.

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Bloodlines, Serial

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Readers' thoughts (3)

  1. At 12:10 pm on March 26, 2013 , Eric Dorbin replied:

    Finally caught up! I must say, I’ve really enjoyed the story so far, very interesting, and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a magic system quite like it, which is also awesome. I think you mentioned in another post that you are drawing this story arc to a close in a few more installments. I think the characters and this world have potential for a lot more fleshing out so a revisit/sequel/etc could be a good future project. Anyway, I’m excited to see where it goes from here.

    A couple quick points of critique/potential improvement or whatever that I’ve noticed for your consideration before I go. First, you may have posted somewhere, but I haven’t seen it, about pronounciations. I love all the creative and original names and such, but often find myself unsure of how they should be pronounced so a pronounciation guide for the names would be good. I can think of at least 6 ways to pronounce Sifani, but my brain defaults to Sif-AH-knee. Second, something to keep an eye on: at a couple points in the story, namely the attack in the garden and especially at the confrontation with Nume, it didn’t seem clear at points whether she was in the etheria or not, or when and if she transitioned out. This was also confused a little by the fact that we as of yet don’t know a whole lot about the etheria and how it works and that Sifani was able to see the pieces and seems to be able to use her abilities at times while outside of etheria. To be clear, I’m not saying the story is too confusing or makes no sense, but I do think taking extra care to ensure it is clear to readers when people are in etheria and what they are doing etc would be a boon to the story since we are all still learning about etheria and your world. I’m reminded of how in Mistborn Sanderson always described in great detail what the characters were doing and experiencing with allomancy, especially towards the beginning, like they burned this and this happened, then they burned this and felt that. Anyway, more such details would be great, unless of course you want to keep it more ambiguous and mysterious for some artistic or story related reason :). Thirdly and finally, more of a sub-thought of the last one. As I’m sure you’ve heard before, it seems that female authors tend to excell at writing and describing characters internal and external interactions, emotions, and sort of flow (sorry i’m not very good at describing this part cuz I’m a guy) because you are more emotionally wired, whereas male authors who tend to be more logic-orientedly wired will tend to excell at keeping the mechanics of their magic or fight scenes fleshed out, clear, and consistent. All this is to say that while you have done a pretty good job of it so far, I think your story could benefit from, and us male readers would thank you for, taking an extra moment as you’re writing to make sure that every part of the scene that’s in your head ends up on the page and that what happens is explained (even if that explanation comes much later). Additionally, I think this will help avoid what I like to call the Rowling problem, where your magic system becomes ambiguous, unclear, inconsistant, and as a result, boring.

    Well, that was more long-winded than I had planned (note I prefaced this with “quick” *rolls eyes at self*). Hopefully that will end up being somewhat helpful, and hopefully I didn’t come across as too critical (I really have enjoyed your story). Allons-y!

    Reply

    • At 3:23 pm on March 26, 2013 , Jaimie Krycho replied:

      Wonderful feedback – thank you for taking the time to write a small essay, Eric. 😉 Seriously, though, I appreciate this kind of constructive criticism, because it’s what pushes me to grow, even when it’s not always fun to hear. As for everything you said, I agree when it’s pointed out to me. :) I also received similar advice from another male writer who’s been reading this.

      I won’t make any edits on what I’ve written until I finish the entire first draft, but when I do, I’ll definitely keep in mind the things you’ve said.

      Allons-y yourself, Whovian!

      Reply

      • At 11:33 am on March 27, 2013 , Eric Dorbin replied:

        Coolbeans. Also, I just realized I was writing “etheria” the whole time *facepalm*. I always get that and “epheria” mixed up in my head.

        Reply

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