Peer Review by Jeremy Houle (United States)

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By: Tacita

When you wake, only the most charitable would consider it to be morning.  

There is not even a shred of sunlight to be found when you open your eyes, but the clattering and screeching continues. You don't want to be awake, but here you are, you guess.  

You feel your way to the door, stubbing your feet on the stone threshold and feeling beads smack you in the eyes. There's no light in your outer rooms either, which means it must be a truly unholy hour.  It takes you three tries to spark the sunjar you set in the niche in the wall yesterday evening, and when it finally does you are predictably staring right at it so your vision is now clouded with spots.  

You really don't want to be awake.  

The ungodly clamor is coming from your pantry (of course), where you (predictably) find that a rock-griffon has somehow gotten into your study supplies. Again. Two of its tiny tufted paws are now one with your cabinet, owing to the fact that it decided to see if your dried sylphbane was good to eat. You'd feel more sympathetic for it if it hadn't woken you up and untidied your pantry, honestly.  

It flaps its wings in a continued panic, knocking over a few more of your jars for good measure, and you suppress a sigh and juggle the sunjar between your hands so you can fetch the maidensbreath paste. Which of course was one of the things the griffon knocked over because nothing can be easy today, apparently.  

By the time you resolve the griffon's paws back to their original state and wrestle it into an airshaft, rays of light are filtering into the tunnels via the mirror relays and you have to go to a class in an hour and a half anyways so it would be pointless to go back to sleep. The sunjar's light glitters off of the quartz and mica deposits in your walls, which cheers you up just enough to drag your sorry behind through morning rituals in the correct state of mind. It's the month of Fires and the season of Stars, and your shrine is decorated with candles, dice, and styluses to suit.  

You miss being a mageling. When you lived in a communal dormitory you didn't have excuses to avoid people and somebody else was making your meals, even if the quality wasn't much to be spoken for. Plus, you weren't responsible for your own supplies. You'd enjoy getting a student stipend a lot more if you didn't have to pay such exorbitant prices for required items. You swear the merchants charge you extra when they see your magelet credentials.  

The dry season is in full swing, even banishing some of the clammy chill of your home district, so you shove extra waterskins into your bag because you don't want to pass out in the middle of a demonstration again due to heatstroke. It was unpleasant enough without the subsequent ribbing from some of your more odious human classmates. Not everyone evolved on savannas, for Gellu's sake.  

Your door is (of course) being difficult today, and Dame Rellis across the hall has to come over and help you roll it aside in order for you to squeeze out. As you lock it back in place, you see her give you that look, that "if-you're-a-mage-why-don't-you-just-spell-it" questioning look, and you just really don't feel like explaining to yet another person that you aren't primarily going into temporal manipulations, you're majoring in necromancy under the Executor and minoring in midwifery under the Breeder, and yes you have to pick a concentration, no you can't spell a stone door, so you wish her a good morning and escape up a side stair.  

There's a minor traffic jam near the main Benthic stairway due to some kind of automotive collision, so you have to detour to sneak into one of the auxiliary service stairwells where you run into Asrar almost literally because xe likes to see if xe can sneak up on you without you smelling xir first. You will never ever tell xir that xe's gotten really really good at it, because xe has enough of a swelled head.  

You sweep past xir up the stairwell as dramatically as you can manage with your relatively short veils, which do you the favor of mussing her feathers without getting you tangled. Xe squawks indignantly, bearing a startling resemblance to the rock-griffon earlier, and you suppress a giggle because that might be awkward. Xe wordlessly hands you a grainloaf as you sprint up the stairs, and you repay this kindness (of course xe'd guess that you skipped breakfast) by not asking where or how xe'd gotten it.  

You really wish that Asrar's profession wasn't what it was, because you hate feeling guilty about being friends with xir. Xe jokes sometimes that you two could work together well, considering your primary concentration, but then you glare at xir and you both end up being silent for a little bit because really. How are you supposed to respond to that?  

More importantly, how serious is xe?  

So you ignore it, like you always do, and all your legs are sore by the time you see not-reflected sunlight but by the slant of the light you're not going to be late, so it's okay. You've worked out a route through the surface buildings that allows you to stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible, but you still wrap your veil more securely around your head and hustle through the open courtyards.  

You hop over scalefolk lounging in the sun (in the middle of the path, rude) and skirt vendors aggressively hawking their wares and by the time you're at the lecture hall Asrar has vanished into some alley but you don't have time to be concerned because the instructor is calling roll, so you slip into your seat.

Message to Readers

A very, very rough draft. I'd like feedback on anything, but especially on where I might not be explaining/hinting things well enough. Thank you!

Peer Review

the mirrors of sunlight. were. super. cool.

I liked the main character the best because he seems so real. and sleepy. and not wanting to get up (like me on weekends, lol)

Xe. that guy. or bird?

I understood pretty much all of it. I REALLY liked the part where he's talking about majoring in necromancy so no-of-course-he-can't-open-the-stone-door.

ready. excited. totally with the main character.

Reviewer Comments

Xe is sorta confusing... but interesting.
Keep writing! it's awesome! lol I was unable to decifer if the main character was a guy or a girl.