Daughter of Light (rewrite) / Chapter 1
Posted January 13th, 2019 by Garrett
in a city drinking coffee
a/n: hi everyone. this is draft 2 of my fantasy book, Daughter of Light. this is my complete rewrite of the first book. when i am finished with this draft, i am going to be focusing on getting this one book as close to perfect as possible before i move on to the rest of the books in the series.
if you want to read this again, keep in mind that this rewrite will be verrrrryyyy different from the original.
and if you're reading this for the first time, then welcome.
Swarms of red eyes surrounded her.
Eileen backed into the wall, her knees wobbly. She buried her hands in her eyes as she slid to the floor. Their voices droned in her ears, endless deluges of slurs and hateful words that burned her like brands.
Was this a nightmare? Or was it a memory? They’d become so intertwined, each day it became harder and harder to distinguish between the two.
The temptation to see overtook her once more, and she peered up at the other girls. They were clearer now that her eyes had adjusted some to the dark of night. She could see more than the fiery irises of their eyes. Petals of flame bloomed in their open hands, lighting up their malicious faces. They were her peers—who she’d grown up with and recognized the instant she saw them. A black-haired, beautiful Witch stood behind Vaenessa. Serilda.
“Why do you hate me so mu—?” She started, cutting her question short when she felt her throat tighten. No way would she cry in front of them. No way would she give them another thing to make fun of.
“Look in the mirror,” Vaenessa spat.
Eileen pulled her skinny legs close to her body as the Witches closed in, their skirts brushing the wood planks. She shut her eyes to hide herself from them.
At such a late hour, the mess hall was empty. The only reason Eileen had come was because another younger Witch whispered to her earlier to meet there at midnight. She wasn’t sure what she had expected—if she thought that maybe, for once, they would treat her like a friend.
She felt like an idiot for believing it, and even more like one for not realizing it was a trap all along. Rosalyn would be disappointed in her if she ever found out.
Winter’s cruel chill seeped through the floorboards and numbed Eileen’s hands as she bit back tears.
“You don’t belong here,” Vaenessa said.
She kicked Eileen’s shin with her boot.
“You never have.”
Eileen bit down on her hand to keep from howling in pain. She turned over, as vulnerable as a newborn. Now nothing could stop the tears—not when they were already trickling out, dripping off the tip of her nose.
“Why do you hate me?” She asked through a mouthful of sobs, peering up at the Witches she had thought were learning to be her friend, to see past their differences.
Fire sprouted to life in Vaenessa’s hand, licking up her fingers. She crouched beside Eileen. The heat of the flame seared her skin, illuminating her crying face and the snot shimmering above her lip.
“Can you do this?” The Witch asked.
Eileen closed her eyes and another tear rolled out.
“No?” Vaenessa’s lips twisted.
She put her burning hand closer. Eileen tried to back up, but her head hit the wall. There was nowhere else to go. With the fire only inches away, her face felt like melting candle wax. She squeezed her eyes closed, ready to embrace the agonizing burn.
“What is this?” An older voice boomed over the crowd of children.
Eileen’s eyes sprung open as the heat vanished, cold air sweeping in to kiss her red cheeks. All of the Witches had turned around to look at someone standing over them—a woman much taller than any of them, and many, many years older.
Loren. The Elderwitch of their village.
Her dark hair, streaked with silver, fell behind her head in an old shawl. But her brown, slightly-wrinkled skin and red eyes were on full display, glowing from the light of the flame in her hand.
“We’re sorry, Loren,” Delaney started. “We were just playing—”
“A game?” Loren hummed and used her free hand to tap her walking stick on the ground once. Twice. She clicked her tongue. “A game.”
A moment of heavy silence passed.
“You girls go home.”
The young Witches shuffled out of the mess hall, walking around Loren. As soon as they were all gone, Loren’s fire vanished. She knelt beside Eileen.
“Are you okay?” Loren asked, putting a gentle hand on her shoulder.
Eileen shrugged her off and stood. She wiped the tears from her eyes before leaving.
The forest whispered secrets; a bug’s buzz, a branch’s clatter, the gurgling stream in the distance, the silent trees, so full of history.
Eileen rested her ear against a thick tree trunk, the bark cooling the side of her face, and remembered that night so many years ago. When she closed her eyes, summer’s pressing heat became the burning flame in Vaenessa’s hand. When she slept at night she still heard all the horrible things they said to her.
Would she ever forget?
The quiet hum of nature kept her calm. The sturdy branch she straddled was high off the ground, so that she could stare out at the interweaving mechanism that the trees made up, crossing in and out of the way of each other. The sun was still high, gilding the leaves in a golden shimmer, and it would be hours before they congregated for dinner.
A twig snapped below.
Eileen drew an arrow and knocked it.
A doe walked in between two trees about twenty paces away, sniffing at the ground for something to eat. Eileen’s bow string groaned as she drew it back, her own hand feeling foreign as it brushed her cheek.
The deer craned her head and stared at Eileen. Her big, chocolate-brown eyes shone with fear. How many of her family members had been killed by other Witches? What trauma had she lived through to bring her sniffing this close to the village?
The doe blinked a question, ear twitching. Are you going to hurt me?
Eileen relaxed her arm and lowered the bow. No.
A second later, the doe sprinted off into the dense foliage, leaves rustling behind her.
Eileen’s lungs sank. What would Rosalyn say when she returned home empty-handed again? Two months. It had been two months since she’d killed anything. But almost every week when she went hunting, she had the opportunity. Maybe she should have just killed the deer. Maybe…
Eileen had just put up her arrow when she heard a louder snap somewhere in the distance. Multiple loud footsteps. She drew another arrow and pulled back the bowstring, readying herself to release.
You can do this. It’s just an animal.
It’s just a—
The creatures stepped through a thick evergreen copse and out into the open.
They were men.
Two grown men in shiny steel armor and dark blue capes draped over their shoulders.
Both of them had a sword hanging from their hip.
Eileen couldn’t believe it. She had to get back to the village—she had to tell Loren or Rosalyn or someone—
But she couldn’t. The men were walking in the direction of the village. They were headed straight toward where Eileen needed to go.
“You think we’re getting any closer?” One of them asked.
“I don’t know. It all looks the same here.”
“Just trees.” They both had deep voices, dropping to octaves Eileen had never heard before.
“But do you smell smoke? Or is that just me?”
He laughed. “This whole bloody country smells like smoke.”
“Let me just tell you,” the other man started. “I’m starting to think that this whole Blue Eyed Witch thing is just a myth.”
Eileen forgot she still had an arrow drawn until it was too late.
Her fingers faltered and the bowstring released and the arrow flew. It hit a tree trunk just past one of the man’s heads, the impact reverberating through the quiet forest. He spun around, scouring the shivering treetops, his cape hissing against the leaves. Eileen tried to sink back into the coverage of her tree, but the pine needles weren’t thick enough. And if she climbed anywhere, her location would be obvious.
There was only one option she could think of.
Eileen slowly hauled herself down three branches and then dropped to the ground.
She stared at the two men, her chest heaving as she sucked in air. Beards wrapped around their chins, and their necks were very angular. She’d seen pictures in some of Loren’s books of what men looked like. She knew that she had a father somewhere, but she’d never met him. She’d never even seen a man in real life until now.
But she had no time to gawk.
She had to run.
Eileen spun on her heel and started into a sprint, the underbrush catching on her shoes. One of her legs tangled with the other and she landed against her shoulder, her bow snapping in two pieces beneath her.
Rosalyn had spent months crafting that bow for Eileen. But she couldn’t afford to mourn lost items. She rose hastily to her feet, not bothering to wipe the dirt off her pants. Instead, she held out her hands.
One of the men squinted at her.
She knew he didn’t just see another Witch.
They both drew their swords, the sunlight and forest reflecting off the blades in golden flashes of light.
“Bloody…” One of them started, mouth wide-open, staring at her.
Eileen closed her eyes and shut out the world. All she knew was the humidity cloaking the forest—the moisture in the air that clung onto leaves and her clothes and the ground. She felt it as if it were crawling through her body, swirling inside her veins. She felt it as if she were a thundering storm cloud.
Her crystal blue eyes opened.
And she attacked.
Water jetted from her palms, each one aimed at a man. They raised their hands to block their faces as it pounded against them, the force of it too much for them to stand. The one who had spoken first dropped his sword and it landed on the soaking ground.
Eileen twisted her hands and listened to the whispers of her power.
The water froze mid-air, turning into razor sharp ice. But it didn’t slow down. Thousands of crystalline ice daggers tore through the men.
Eileen heard indistinct yells and glued her eyes to the ground as the world spun.
She dropped her hands and stumbled until she hit a tree. Her lips were trembling, chills erupting across her body. The forest floor and the trees and the two men, groaning and bleeding out on the ground, were all a vortex around her. She kept her eyes closed and took two deep breaths.
When she opened them again, the world had stilled. Her head still buzzed, but the forest returned to its usual silence. Warmth from the sun began to seep into her chest once more. But the birds had gone quiet. She could only hear the two men groaning.
Now only one man groaning.
And she’d killed them both.
Eileen shuddered and slumped against the tree, burying her face in her cold hands.
It was self defense. They were going to kill me. They said they were looking for me.
All she wanted was to go home, crawl into her bed, and never go back into the forest again. What was once her sanctuary was now stained with foreigners’ blood. How would she come back here without thinking of when she slaughtered two innocent men?
Or were they innocent?
Eileen breathed twice more and stood, wiping off her hands. She took slow steps toward the bodies. They were both quiet now. Blood leaked from holes that started at their legs and stippled up to their heads.
The ice had cut through their armor.
They’d come from Euanthe. Eileen always forgot the names of the kings that ruled the other countries of the continent. But she recognized the navy capes that were rippled over the forest floor as the national color of Euanthe.
Something in the corner of her eye stole her attention. She turned to find herself looking at her reflection in one of their discarded swords as if it were a mirror—at her disheveled brown hair and blue eyes. Eileen knelt beside the weapon, the leaves and twigs crunching damply beneath her knees.
The sword was so large. She ran a finger down the flat side of the blade.
Her fingers curled around the hilt as she stood. She lifted the blade off the ground and tried to keep it under control as it wavered left to right in her grip. Eileen gritted her teeth, planted her feet in the ground, and used every straining muscle in her arms and legs to heave the blade up. She balanced it across her shoulder and started off toward the village, leaving two dead men behind.
The village was nestled in the trough of a valley, divided by a narrow stream. It was a simple place, with small houses made from wood and thatch, and smoke drifting into the sky from the mess hall. Eileen made it to the edge of the village and let the sword slide from her shoulder, into the grass. She hadn’t decided whether she should get Rosalyn or Loren first. Rosalyn was the first person she told everything. But Loren would know what to do.
But Rosalyn was her sister.
Eileen set off for her own house. It was the third one on the right side of the stream, a makeshift dirt path leading up to the front door. She stepped inside, the dusty floorboards scuffing against her shoes. The front room was gray and murky, but it had everything they needed. A kitchen and a sitting area with a small bookshelf. In the back was the cramped bedroom that they shared.
“Rosalyn?” Eileen called out, rubbing at her collarbone as she pushed open the bedroom door and saw two empty cots, both with made covers. Light entered the room through a single window, illuminating the dancing dust motes.
I guess she’s not home.
Eileen turned on her heel and walked back into the bright day. Not a single cloud marred the sky—just blue and the glowing sun above. Loren’s house was directly across the stream—the only two story home in the village. Being Elderwitch did have its advantages. Not that Eileen would ever have the opportunity to become one—with taboo powers like hers.
She rapped softly on Loren’s front door.
It was nearly two seconds later when it swung open and a dark, familiar, shawled face smiled at her.
“Come in,” Loren said, stepping aside. Eileen had been in that same kitchen countless times when she was younger—Loren would always be there to make her feel better, whether she was providing medical remedies to afflictions the other Witches did, or if Eileen was sad. But at a certain point a few years ago, Eileen stopped visiting the Elderwitch altogether. It seemed like a childish thing to do—getting help from an adult. She could take care of herself.
Except for now.
“Something just happed in the woods,” Eileen said, following the Elderwitch into the kitchen area. Loren started chopping up something on the counter, her knife clapping against the cutting board in dull thuds.
“Want a snack, dear?”
“No. I need you to listen to me.”
Loren turned and wiped her hands on the stained apron draped around her waist. She cocked an eyebrow.
“You haven’t needed for me to listen to you in a very long time, dear.”
Eileen fumbled for words. “I know, and I’m sorry. No one bothers me anymore, they just don’t speak to me. But this is different. I was hunting and there were two men.”
Loren’s eyes darkened. She put away the knife and ushered Eileen over to a sitting area across the room, beside a floor-to-ceiling shelf of ancient books. The Elderwitch lit a candle on a table in between the two chairs where they sat.
Smoke curled from the tiny flaming wick.
“Go on,” she said.
Eileen cleared her throat and tried to remember exactly what happened.
“There were two men. They mentioned hunting down a Blue Eyed Witch, and they were soldiers from Euanthe.”
“Leon Hadar’s soldiers,” Loren said absently.
Eileen nodded, making a mental note to remember his name.
“What did you do? Are they still out there?”
Eileen shook her head and stared at the flickering candle. “I killed them.”
Loren didn’t seem shocked or worried—she just stared into the distance with a grim set to her lips.
A moment of silence passed. Eileen wondered if she was supposed to leave or stay or speak.
Loren lifted her hand and dropped her shawl to her shoulders, tumbles of graying hair falling around her face.
“Are you sure they were from Euanthe?”
“And their bodies are still in the forest?”
“Yes. I carried one of their swords here in case no one believed me…” Eileen trailed off, realizing how stupid she probably sounded.
But Loren said, “Good thinking. Many of the Witches in our village wouldn’t believe you.”
She stood and Eileen followed her to the door.
Loren twisted the knob and said, “But they’ll believe me.”
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