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Isabelle's Writing > A Blade of Dawn || Book || Chapter One

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*:・゚✧ Isabelle (semi-hiatus) (isabellev14) | 29 comments hey. so. this is the first draft of my book..?! it feels so insane to say that i've actually committed to writing a whole novel lol

and with being a first draft, there's probably a lot of mistakes in here. i've tried to edit it but my brain is just so tired from the ending that i think i need a bit of a break haha

the first few chapters of this are a bit long and slow, but they do get shorter as the pace picks up and more things happen.

i'd really appreciate some constructive criticism since i am in the process of editing my first draft! but most importantly, i hope you guys enjoy:)

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Book Info
Title: A Blade of Dawn
Genre(s): Fantasy, Adventure, Young Adult
Word Count (this will change a lot): 109,950 words
Warnings: Violence, somewhat vivid descriptions of blood, death of a loved one, grief, cursing

Premise
When a notorious assassin, Daya Everhart, fails an assignment, she sets out on a mission to save her name only to be caught up in a tale of political intrigue and ever-changing loyalties.

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I don’t usually take assignments from people I know, but this night just seems to be full of exceptions. When the clock strikes one I jump out of my bed, fully dressed and armed, and shimmy through the small opening of my window, landing softly on the ground. I continue to make no sound as I start my way towards the rich part of town; the Clementine they call it.

It’s not much of a walk, but it involves a lot of time out in the open. Black clothes might seem even more suspicious. I’ve worn a pair of tight black leggings and a wine coloured doublet with an extremely deep neckline. A belt rests on my hips and the white flower that hangs from it bounces against my thigh with every step. I resist the urge to cover myself as two drunk men walk by, ogling at such a rare sight. It’s an uncomfortable kind of attention, but as long as their attention isn’t on the weapons hidden under my clothes and in my boots I can endure it.

As I get closer to my destination, I start to see houses built from marble-like material with tall glass windows. The size of the living rooms are probably as big as my entire house. It’s almost as if you’re entering a whole other world. I guess maybe I am, since the war, when the government eventually fell apart, our country has been split into three main areas: the poor, the middle class, and then wealthy. Or as I like to call them: the bastards, the puppets, and the jokers.

We didn’t intentionally split ourselves this way, well, I’m not entirely sure—the year-long war happened when I was about to turn four, so I don’t exactly remember much. But when all the rulers were gone and our only rulers became our human nature, we surrounded ourselves with those with power like ourselves in hopes not to be controlled by the caste higher or ridiculed by the caste lower.

Much good that did us.

Even with the lands separating our towns everyone has free reign to go wherever they wish. The only difference is that the rich have more resources to do so, strolling through our villages with their outrageous clothing, seducing some of the young villages girls with promises of riches and feasts—spoiler alert: they never got it. We thought we had created a caste system, but what we really formed was a food chain.

But at the same time, this exact system is what’s letting me walk to the Clementine freely in order to kill someone. Guess we really didn’t think this through.

The person I’ve assigned to assassinate today is on the poor side of wealthy. Her son’s a friend of a friend who’s heard of the infamous Artemisia assassin. Rue had begged me to take on his request, saying that we’ll get more business from the wealthy after this. It was only at the mention of a “large sum of money” that I grudgingly agreed. And perhaps it was because she started giving me her puppy eyes again, but I’m not exactly going to admit that. Sometimes I wonder why I had put up with dating her once.

From the details she told me, this job seems to be an easy one. Mid-sixties, deteriorating health, bed-ridden, and blind in one eye. It almost seems like a dream. A stab or two should do it. Maybe poison even, if I feel like switching things up for once. Either way, this should be easy money for both Rue and me.

Once I get to the outer edge of the Clementine, I slow down my pacing. The house should just be here near the front of the area; where the poor rich bow down to the wealthiest on top of the Hill further into town. I dare not get caught there. While the wealthiest spread word that they’re opening their arms to the middle and poor castes, I don’t think anyone’s taken them up on that offer.

As I walk behind the large houses, their sheer sizes make me feel smaller than I already am being a Dawnwaller. To think these are considered small sends a tendril of annoyance through my mind. How wasteful the rich are, spending their time hiding in their houses while the rest of us spend our days out begging for our food and living by scraps of fabric. I have these same thoughts every time I pass by through here, but my stance doesn’t change.

Rue’s friend had said he’d be waiting for me at the entrance to their back gardens, but none of these houses have one. Their backyards are instead filled with broken but extravagant fountains with statues of angels adorning the top. Some even have little tent areas with tables and chairs underneath. But still no garden.

I begin to think that this is just another one of Rue’s awful, out of hand pranks as there doesn’t seem to be a single plant in sight. Not even a single bush. It’s just fountain after fountain interrupted by the sight of a sleeping dog. He looks peaceful and soft lying there. I make sure to walk swiftly past him before him wakes up. Or before I decide that petting cute animals is part of my job.

I look behind me at the trail I’ve covered. I must’ve passed at least two dozen houses at this point and reaching the Hill seems inevitable at this rate. Some rats scuttle just ahead of me and I immediately crouch behind the wall of one of the houses. Someone’s awake.

My knife presses into my skin in this position, as if warning me to take one of them. But I stay as still as possible, and watch where the rats are running away from. My gaze backtracks their path only to land on patches of various vegetables and flowers only a house away. A garden.

“Sh*t,” I mutter under my breath. A figure stands with its hands on its hips at the back gate, overseeing the rats running away. The houses are too tall for any moonlight to reach the backs of the houses. A mask of shadows obscures the person’s face, giving them an air of mystic and danger. Though I am well versed in killing, the sight still frightens me a bit.

I hear the sound of metal clinking as the figure begins to move. I heed their warning and take the knife from my boot. It’s too short to do any real damage, but hopefully I won’t need to do any at all. From where I’m hiding, I can see that the person’s mop of hair bouncing around as they look either way. They seem to be just outside of the garden’s fence. Just standing around.

“Daya?” the person whispers. Their voice is all high and airy, hard to discern what gender. “Daya, are you there?”

It takes me a moment to realize they’re saying my real name aloud. It’s odd having someone other than my family and close circle call me by it, but having a client say it as if they were giving some sort of sermon infuriates me. Do they not know how this whole secret assassination thing works?

When they swing their head to the opposite direction, I strike. Quietly running towards the house with my torso down, I’m sneak up behind the person. One of my hands covers their mouth, and the one with the knife to their neck. I press it in gently.

“I thought this service was for your mother,” I hiss into their ear. I can feel their lanky frame trembling against me. They’re inches taller than me, making the position hard to control, but I keep my grip tight. The person makes a muffled sound, a plea, I’m guessing. And when my knife presses down harder, another muffled sound.

“I’ll only let you go if you promise not to scream.” Their head nods vigorously and I do as I promised. They make a show out of it too. Trying to catch their breath and rubbing at where my knife was.

At this range I can see the general outline of their features; feline like eyes, sharp jawline, and pale skin that isn’t uncommon in the Clementine. Certainly not as pale as the other residents.

He coughs a bit too loudly for my liking and I raise my knife. Catching sight of it, his eyes widen and he takes a step back. “Jesus,” they manage to huff out. “It’s me, Will. Will Eckford.” Seems like a fragile kid. I wonder why he’d want to get caught up with this business.

“You’re the son?” I ask, although it seems pretty clear what the answer is. He nods his head again.

“Yeah. I thought you might need some help getting in,” he says, gesturing to the gate that’s being held by two rusted hinges. I raise my eyebrows. He gives me a nervous smile in return.

I point to the gate, trying to hide the amusement in my voice. “Is that supposed to be hard to get through?” I clamp my lips together but it still manages to curl up at the corners. Will swings the gate in and gestures for me to enter.

“It’ll make a noise if you open it any other way,” he claims. “I had to make sure that the silent assassin stays silent.” I glare at him as I walk through, and he winks. On any other occasion, I would find it annoying, but this one seems amusing enough.

Will follows behind me and shuts the gate quietly. He’s very slow in doing so, taking the whole silent thing a bit too seriously. He even squints at the hinges as if that will help. I take this moment to glance around the garden. From far, it looked fruitful, full of greenery. But from close up, the land’s pretty barren. Just a few patches of cabbages, half a patch of potatoes, and a few flowers lining the edge. Through the middle—where I’m standing—is a stone path leading up to the wooden backdoor.

Will joins me and he leads the way to the backdoor, being sure to open this one quietly as well. Despite how slow he goes, it still makes a few squeaks that make both of us cringe. Once it’s open though, I step through to see a very open house layout. Sparse furniture, sparse decorations. Not exactly what I was expecting from a Clementine household.

“Welcome,” Will whispers, not closing the door behind him, “to my humble abode.”

I scoff. “You and I have very different definitions of humble.”

He shrugs and begins walking towards the staircase. I start to follow him, trying my best not to make a sound on the tiled floor. Will, I notice, is barefoot, but wearing a full set of clothing instead of nightwear. I fear he’s a bit too eager for his mother to die and my stomach becomes uneasy. Oh well, I push aside the feeling; I’ll be making money anyway.

We head up the stairs side by side till we get to the top floor. There’s only two rooms here, both covered by what seems to be gold embroidered curtains instead of doors. The one to the left has it’s curtains pushed to one side, so I focus on the one in front of me. Will gives me a look in confirmation.

I remind myself where each of my weapons are set. Where each of them press on my skin underneath my doublet. It’s a comforting sort of pain, if that’s even a thing.

The metal curtain rod and hooks risk being too noisy so I pull up the curtain and sneak under it. I take a few steps into the room and look back. This seems to be where Will’s enthusiasm ends, as I see he hasn’t followed me inside. Never mind, less distractions for me.

**Part 2 in another post b/c it's too long lmao**


*:・゚✧ Isabelle (semi-hiatus) (isabellev14) | 29 comments **Part 2 let's gooo**

The room’s quite big. It’s a good ten feet from the “door” to the bed. More curtains are shut across her windows, but they let a sliver of moonlight through. It’s too dark to see any details, but the bedroom’s sparsely decorated as well. There’s only a wardrobe across from the bed and a vanity right next to it. There’s a carpet on the floor, but it’s about the same size as once of the cabbage patches, and pretty worn out too.

I creep my way towards the bed. It’s a large four poster bed with what seems to be a story of faeries and dragons carved on the headboard. The bed is fashioned in baby pink covers, and on top of them lies an old woman. She’s in a dark ruby nightgown. Her hands are placed over stomach, one atop the other, like one would in a casket.

She looks ready for this.

I trade the blade I threatened Will with one from scabbard underneath the front of my doublet. It’s longer, sturdier, and surely to be fatal with the right cut. Its handle is bandaged with black leather to hide the inscription underneath. Mors tua, vita mea. The Society’s slogan. Your death, my life. The blade’s handle is made from a beautiful, shimmering metal; it’s a shame to cover it up.

Lady Eckford’s eyes are closed tightly, her crow’s feet pronounced. Her chest rises and falls at a calm pace. But looking closely, her hands grip her nightgown, her long claw like nails about to shred it into pieces. A bead of sweat falls down from her forehead leading down to her already drenched pillowcase. It makes me think I will be the first to take life away from her. I suppose that should calm me a bit.

I ready my knife into what I think is the right position; directly under her breast. If I stab it through while tilting up, it should puncture her lung, and if I’m lucky, her heart. The lack of light makes this shot tricky and her dark clothes aren’t exactly helping, but my muscle memory should be enough.

Her position in bed doesn’t really make for a spectacular canvas for my usual flair. They called what I do to my assignments disgraceful and disgusting, but I ignored them. Everyone deserves to look their best when they die, even the worst of people.

Never mind that, I think. Her son’s waiting just outside the door—or curtain, rather. I know he wants her dead, but I don’t think he’d like her turned into another one of my art pieces. This is surely the dullest assassination I’ve ever executed, as gruesome as the thought is.

With one gentle hand covering her mouth, I push my knife upwards. Lady Eckford’s eyes jolt open and I clamp her mouth tighter. In the dark, I see her bright amber eyes stare right at me, as if she can see right through me even in this setting. She makes no move to claw at my hand with her own, and instead stills her hands from their clawing. She doesn’t move one inch. It’s hard to tell when she’s finally dead, but soon the shallow rise and fall of her chest stops, and her eyes flutter closed. I cautiously slide my blade out and lift my hand from her face.

It’s done.

As one last parting message, I detach the flower from where it hands from a belt around my waist. I used to carry around my knives more ostentatiously, but as I’ve grown older I’ve learned that art is best done in private. And carrying deadly knives around doesn’t go well with the council. I slide the stem in between her still clasped hands, the thorns I never bother cutting piercing her thin skin. At least the blood won’t seem too out of place.

I head out of the room, ducking beneath the curtains as I did when I entered. Will’s leaning on the staircase railing. His hands are crossed across his torso and he looks up when I exit. If anything, his eyes seem to widen a bit, looking exactly like his mother’s.

I can’t imagine the sort of spectacle I look like right now. Revealing clothing, hair tied in a clean bun high on my head, shiny leather boots, and a knife drenched in blooding dripping onto the clean white tiles. I skillfully clean the blade with the inner hemline of my doublet.

“Is it…” he begins, “Is it all finished? Is she dead?”

I lift my head up to look at him. “She’s dead. It’s all done.” To my surprise, Will puts a hand on his heart and lets out a sigh of relief.

“Thank you, thank you. I owe you a lot, don’t I?”

I shrug. “Rue never told me your offer, just that it was a lot.” Will smirks and pulls something out of his pocket. “And I expect a lot,” I add.

If anything, his smirk grows bigger as he hands me a of rolled up piece of paper. He placed his hands on mine before I can unroll it.

“Hold your horses,” he laughs. “Don’t unroll it just yet.”

I raise a brow. “If this is what you think I charge for my services I would say, sir, that you are very mistaken.”

“Pssh, as if I can’t afford your services. Just go to your usual place, you know, with Rue. Hand that piece of paper to the bartender.
The buff one.” He turns towards the stairs and I follow him down.

“The one with the scar?” I ask.

“Yes! The one that goes down his—," he turns sharply toward me and I try to smile innocently. “How’d you know about his scar?”

I shrug. “Wild night.” We both return our focus on exiting the house. I don’t push him on how he knows about the scar—I don’t think we’re there just yet.

We reach the still open backdoor and Will sends me off with a mock salute. “Pleasure doing business with you, Artemisia.” I step outside and let the cool air envelope me in a hug.

“I would say the same,” I say inclining my head downwards at him, “but I haven’t gotten paid yet.”

He scoffs. “The Lunar Tavern. Your usual time. I’ll be there, I promise.” He smiles one last time at me before closing the door shut. I hear him turn the locks, three in total.

I walk my way out, on the stone path, pass the patches of cabbages that will rot. Pass the flowers that will wilt. Lady Eckford is no longer alive to take care of them, and I doubt Will is up to the task. I look away before I can convince myself that I’m the one killing the plants.

When I push the gate out, it makes a high pitched noise just as Will had said, much to my delight. It’s definitely not loud enough to wake someone up, but it amuses me just the same.

Shortly after, I begin the path back towards the Dawnwall. My mother says that after the war the one thing that remained standing was a wall right in the middle of the town, hence the name. She said the dawn came from the time that the war had ended, and everyone looked out their windows to see the sun rising. I don’t know how much I believe in the story, but it’s a cute tale.

The night looks exactly as it had been when I began my journey, but now there’s less wanderers on the path. The dirt part seems to have been worn out recently, fresh footprints imprinted on it. By the looks of it, those people seemed to have had a fun time. I miss the days where those footprints could’ve been mine.

The sky is still pitch dark when I reach my window and sneak back into my room. From a distance, all the windows in my town seem to be blacked out. There’s no one out and about either, which makes me crawl into my room just a tad bit faster.

I take a quick scan of the room and see that my bedroom door’s still closed. I briskly strip off my bloodied doublet and disarm myself, stuffing everything into a box stuffed beneath my bed. I pull out one of my father’s old long white sleeve shirts and throw it on. It fits like a puffy dress on me but it’s still comfortable.

Slipping beneath the covers, I try to shut my eyes tight, but they keep springing back open. I tell myself tonight was a good night, a quick kill, a large pay. It was a good night. A great night even. But as time ticks on, I find myself staring out the window and watching the new dawn come, the sun rising over our ramshackle houses.

I don’t move my eyes from it’s fiery glory as it goes up and up. I keep my eyes trained on it. Every. Single. Inch.

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**the scar is down his ARM before any of y'all start getting other ideas**


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

That was so good! I loved the premise and your writing and characterization is amazing!


*:・゚✧ Isabelle (semi-hiatus) (isabellev14) | 29 comments AspiringAuthor wrote: "That was so good! I loved the premise and your writing and characterization is amazing!"

thank you so much! i was really scared that not a lot of people were going to like my premise, so i'm glad you enjoyed it 😁


message 5: by Sushie || "In writing, you must kill all your (last edited Jul 14, 2020 09:31PM) (new)

Sushie || "In writing, you must kill all your darlings." -William Faulkner (73687) Wow! I just saw this and I love it! I saw a few typos, but they're an easy fix! ((It's probably because of stupid autocorrect anyway XD)) ;)
Thanks so much for this amazing chapter, Isabelle! You did a great job, I can't wait for the next one.


*:・゚✧ Isabelle (semi-hiatus) (isabellev14) | 29 comments Sushie || "But when people say 'Did you always want to be a writer?' I have to say 'No! I always was a writer.'" -Ursula Le Guin wrote: "Wow! I just saw this and I love it! I saw a few typos, but they're an easy fix! ((It's probably because of stupid autocorrect anyway XD)) ;)
Thanks so much for this amazing chapter, Isabelle! You d..."


ah thank you! and yes, i read through again it and i, too, saw many typos lol. i do type quite fast so that may have played a part in it 😆

chapter 2 should be coming soon!


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