These are a series of novel chapter drafts. They are a work in progress and the primary goal of the current work is to get the ideas on paper - not nessicarily for them to be well written
Lyrei, Kvatt Town Arena - 4th Age Anno 300
I winced involuntarily as I heard the infant Ferrin scream. The skin on her left earlobe parted smoothly under the cold steel of the elder’s blade. She was far younger than the other children here, but it was her fifth observation of the cross-moons and that was when everyone had their stones set. Out in the icy wilderness, Ceremony was one of the only remnants of our previous lives we had left, and so it waited on noone.
Ferrin’s father was a cloth merchant. He bought and sold fabrics from the wandering traders that happened upon our small village. Usually bought up the lot in one fell swoop — and sold them on for double to anyone who was interested. For her parent’s efforts, Ferrin had the immense honour of having ruby insertions. I could see them glinting deep crimson even from my seat at the very back of the hall. These were the only rubies I had ever seen, bar those rare promotional visits from the royal court. They were mesmerizing, their liquid red so vividly clear despite their size and distance. Her father must have spent half the town’s gold on the pair, only for them to be hidden away inside his child’s ears.
Her tired screams faded into the rising murmurs of the audience — obviously, I wasn’t the only one impressed. The twangy voices of the butcher’s girls and the always booming voice of my father floated above the noise of the congregation. Father always spoke without subtlety or attention to volume — he was telling me of his suspicions of the money’s origin, oblivious to the nearby audience who could hear him. He was a kind man, but he never ceased to embarrass me.
I looked away as the elder dropped his hand to the hot iron resting in the furnace. Most children fainted by this point, making the ceremony mostly a bearable ordeal — but Ferrin was stubborn-hearted and her scream continued as the foul stink of burnt flesh once again engulfed the room. When I finally looked back, I could see that it was a clean seal — one that, in a few years, would be invisible to the all but the most perceptive.
I envied her. Gem-bearers of that grade never need fear poverty or discomfort — despite what their folly and ineptitude might merit. The other ranks of stone were already intimately familiar with me, my copper inserts barred me from all but the lowest of establishments, events and any future prospects. Luckily, my father and the elders were close and it usually went unspoken if I appeared at some of the town events and pushed what was normally acceptable, all provided I didn’t cause any more reason for my exclusion.
The next child was brought to the podium, his body visibly tense as he grabbed the guiding hand of his mother. I excused myself from my seat, making room for an elderly couple who had been looking expectantly at my seat since Ferrin’s turn had concluded.
Ferrin was the only child I was interested in watching, the other children would receive standard stones— opal, serpentine, jade. I decided to leave before my presence irked the sensibilities of the less accepting town members. With some effort, I managed to open the great hall doors enough to slide through and proceeded outside, greeted coldly by the buffeting wind.