This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
A/N: Cover - credit Ingvildschageart on Instagram who I commission the front cover from! It’s wonderful.
16/04/2017 - As of today, the first draft is complete! This book will be eighteen chapters long, with a Prologue and Epilogue. I wasn’t sure if I would ever make it this far, and now I have it is surreal.
That being said, these chapters are now under a rigorous proof read. There are mistakes, grammatically and spelling wise until I am able to edit them so please bear with me, and take these errors with a pinch of salt. If you do happen to notice an error, I would appreciate them being pointed out, but please don’t look over the story because of my silly fingers!
UPDATE: 03/11/2017 - All Chapters up to chapter 10 will be edited; the closest to their final edit they will be before publishing. Meaning half the book will be Free to read.
To the glance of an eye, the Centre of the Crimson District appeared to be a pleasant village. Low houses of stone lined the pavements. Store fronts with their feature windows faced out towards the middle of the street, where an unused well was covered by a thick metal slab. Anarion spared a moment to wonder how many bones lay hidden and lost at the bottom. An idyllic scene, built upon a lie.
The wind howled down the rows of rock grey buildings, almost in answer to her tumult thoughts. Its wail echoed, as wrought iron clouds crept in overhead. A drop of rain speckled the ground at her feet, sinking into the already damp stone.
Her stare found the piece of paper that held the possibility to change her life. The Militia recruitment page had been hammered to a worn notice board in the Centre of the Crimson District; the more pristine streets where the local businesses went about their daily routine. A single plastic pen hung limply on a damp string beside the recruitment paper for those who wanted to sign away their name to the cause.
Anarion rested in the alcove of an apartment doorway to observe as people passed. Crimson like herself, and yet shielded from the Outer streets by money alone. A few glanced at the weather-beaten sheet, but none approached. It had been at least twenty minutes since she’d arrived from the Outer Crimson territory, the edges of the District where the poor and desperate lingered. Outer was where the District got its name from; the battered streets ran red from brawls and bloody conflicts.
Luckily, those from the Outer territories generally stayed away from the Centre, who had used their wealth to buy protection in the form of an armed Watch. The Watch were vigilant for large groups of Outers; gangs who would attack for no other reason than they could. She had been allowed through, not being seen as a threat and while Anarion was there, it gave her a small respite from having to look over her shoulder.
A family walked by her hiding place. Anarion kept her head low to deter attention away from herself. There was a mother, she noted, a father and son too from their looks. The mother held a basket of wears which they must have purchased from the markets on the other side of the Centre. When the son slowed, the parents did not. He walked cautiously over to the recruitment paper and leaned towards it. Her eyes followed his movements closely. His clothes were crisp and clean. She wondered if he would sign as her eyes widened and she too, leant forward.
“Come away,” the mother gushed, when she turned to see where her son had gotten to. He hesitated, then shuffled to his family. Anarion watched as the father threw his arm over the son’s shoulders, pulling him close. The son said something but she couldn’t catch it from a distance. Both parents shook their heads and the mother grasped his arm to hook around hers while the father patted his back as they carried on their way.
Anarion watched them go and moved out of cover. The son must have felt her gaze somehow, or her sudden appearance as he looked back over his mother’s shoulder. Their eyes met, and Anarion felt she was staring into the eyes of a ghost. With his dirty blonde hair and pale irises he was unnervingly similar to someone she had loved, and lost.
Her face remained blank as she held his eyes for a moment, then she dropped his gaze and stepped closer to the notice board.He didn’t need to think she was someone out to hurt him. Her clothes were dirtied from work with mechanic tools, oil stained her hands and face below her cap. She did not look trustworthy. Though it tended to not matter if she did or did not; the people of Crimson were very cynical and suspicious people at heart.
Anarion flexed her fingers as she breathed out a sigh. She had come to sign and she would not walk away before it was done. There was no family to pull her away at the last second.Her head shook to clear her thoughts. She had friends, yes, such as the couple she lived with. A girl who she had known since their time in the orphanage together. When Anarion thought of Lucy and her husband, Peter who had worked hard to earn a living in the Outer her hands clenched.
The civil war threatened them all. They were the District on the border to the South. It would be the first hit if the Capital forces managed to break through the Resistance and travel the miles of derelict land between the last Southern District and Crimson. She could not let that happen. There was no excuse for her to stay behind, not when she could do some good by throwing herself into the fight. At least it got her off the streets.
Her teeth gritted; a bad habit of hers which usually had Lucy tapping her chin with a finger to let up. She had been going over the same argument in her head for weeks: reasons why she should stay, and those to go.
As the wind wrapped around her, it flittered through the loose strands of hair which had escaped her cap and heightened her temper by chilling her already numb hands. Winter was nearing and though she didn’t know much strategy for war, she guessed that they would need enough people to keep the front-line safe before the low temperature hit and they were stuck in position. Anarion tilted her chin further into the tattered scarf at her neck as she thought.
No more hesitation. Her skills could come in handy for the Militia. The winter would wreak havoc on their vehicles and weapons; she could fix them. She forced her feet to move before she could change her mind. The soles of her boots broke through the frozen crust of muddied ground in front of the notice board.
When she neared, she paused again. There were names already written. Not many, but they were there. Dark ink against pale, soaked white paper. It was the first time she’d been close enough to see the stains from where the rain had seeped in. Though the paper was battered from the weather, its edges curled, the names would still be recognisable. It billowed softly in the winds - a death sentence for many marked upon it.
Deep in thought, she hadn’t caught the approach of heavy footsteps. “If you’re going to sign it,” a booming voice followed a large hand which clasped her shoulder and pushed. “Then bloody well do it, you waste of space.”
Anarion slipped in the mud that was wet beneath the hard coat but managed to right herself, not going face first. Her chin raised as she looked at the sweaty man from below the rim of her cap. He blanched when he eyed the side of her face, marred by burns.
She’d once owned a metal mask which hugged the bottom of the face and filtered the air, a symbol of the Crimson, and yet disliked by those from the Inner territories. Within the cleaner streets of the Centre, they had no need to protect their lungs from fumes and the harmful pollution of the mines. It would have covered her burns. When money was scarce, she’d had to sell it.
There was blood on his greyed apron he wore – a butcher, from the nearby shop. The building with the door opened from where he’d come.
“I’m sick of seeing you street rats standing outside my business, scaring away my God damned customers,” he recovered from the sight of her face to raise a meaty hand menacingly. “What have you got to live for, huh? Not like you’ll get married with a face like that, anyways. Do us all a favour and fight for your District. Maybe then you’ll stop being useless.”
Anger bit into her, hard. It was not the words over her appearance which raked at her, it was the knowledge that she had indeed been useful; working in the mines so people like him did not have to. The Capital worked them like dogs for fuel. Without the endless toil of the people in the deadly pits to keep the Capital law enforcers off their backs, men like the butcher would not even have a business.
Her voice was cold and cracked as it came out, “I was about to sign it, you oaf. Right before you almost took my feet from under me.”
“What you call me?” he stepped up towards her, and she fought the urge to react. To move and put the man down. To watch as he writhed, face in the muck.
An inbuilt instinct whispered to run but that would not do. If she was going to the front-line, there would be no turning tail to flee. Not if she did not want to be hunted for desertion, her body hung outside the District for all to see; an example, so she steeled herself.
“Back off,” she warned. “I’ll do what I came to do, and then I’ll be out of your way.”
His face reddened further, and she watched as his cheeks and neck blotched right before her eyes. “You’ve got a nerve, lad.” She didn’t offer to correct him on that. “Do it then, and get the fuck out of my sight.”
Anarion eyed him, as he stomped back to his shop and slammed the door. The bell just inside jingled madly as he stared at her through the glass. With adrenaline in her system, she almost forgot her nerves and stalked to the board. Her fingers did not shake as she took the pen and viewed the page.There were eight names already down. She didn’t look at them, didn’t want to know if she recognised them. Anarion instead concentrated on forming her own name with stiff fingers.
When she was done, she let the pen slip from her grip. It clinked against the wooden board as she turned to send a levelled look in the butcher’s direction. He opened the door to shout out, “Well done, Lad. Now scurry off to whatever hole you crawled out of before I put your head through that board.”
Her shoulders were stock still, and her back ram rod straight when she twisted to walk away. Back to the Outer Territories from where she had come.
With her name upon that recruitment paper, everything would change.
izzymerchant: This book is truly special. The plot, the characters and the way the story flows is so engrossing and magical that I found it virtually impossible to put down. The character relationships were particularly fascinating and Melenthia's character was fascinating. Cannot wait to see what happens next!
SandraHan1: This story is very descriptive, with vivid scenes from the very beginning, which made for a good scene setting. I love the symbolism in names, such as “Naysayers”, “Hadd”, etc . The story itself is revolutionary, intriguing, emotional and exciting. I was very pleased to see that there is a happy ...
OpheliaJones: This story took a different kind of spin on the "normal girl lives with definitely not normal guy" plot. The plot points of Frey's father, Liam's family, and Frey's view of Liam's world were good to read. She did not fall in love with him in the first couple weeks. Their lives were not smooth in ...
annie08c: I really like this story, I can relate to it a lot and with how she feels, the boyfriend and the events that happened but I'm a little bit younger. It was really good plot, really liked how you stuck to the topic and you had a new title for every chapter making me guess what's going to happen. Ma...
263Adder: Okay so I adore this story. I only knocked one star off plot for historical inaccuracies because I'm a bit of a stickler for that. The ending broke my heart though, considering you already changed history couldn't you (SPOILER) change it a bit more and have them together!!!! I want an alternative...
Marimar Amieva: I just can't believe the story! I absolutely loved it, all of it. The characters and their chemistry between them, and the fact that they are relatable. The story also has some sick plot twists, which I never saw coming. I loved the fact that it is an adorable love story but has its mystery touc...
Ruby0h: Overall I thought your story was really good! It drew me in right away and kept me interested as the story progressed. I loved the character of Kayla being inserted into this story, and the way she affected and shaped the life of the original story into something totally new and interesting. I lo...
makaylakay: I love love this story! It's written incredibly and well thought-out plot! I love how it's a different twist in fantasy fiction, other then the usual vampire or werewolves. Love the romantics and drawn to the two characters so much already! This book will draw you in within the first chapter and ...
Flik: Hi! ^.^ huge fan of yours on ff.net! When I saw the note about this contest on The Way We Smile, I couldn't help but rush over here, create an account, and vote! XD Seriously love this story and would recommend it to anyone! :D best FT fanfiction out there. Amazing story, amazing concept that wa...