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As a pure-blood Winglet, Oriana isn't supposed to look at a half-blood much less speak to one. Half-bloods are the lowest of all races at Odon's University, because they are half Winglet and half Finlet. But when a half-blood, Dorian, locks eyes with her in the hallway, Oriana can't help but be intrigued by his daring nature. After sneaking out to the garden in the middle of the night to talk to him, Oriana knows she can't let her feelings go. She fears not following Odon's rules, but the more she sees Dorian the more she wants to break them all.
When Oriana's idea of perfection crumbles she seeks a way out of the imprisoning University that threatens not only her happiness, but her very life. Dorian promises he has a plan to take her far away, but Oriana doubts they can escape Odon's all-seeing eye. Oriana isn't sure what she fears more, being stuck in the University or finding out what lies beyond its walls.
Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopian
"I notice immediately a passing half-blood. His combination of black hair and blue eyes upon darker skin are a beacon in the crowd of identical features. Something urges me to look straight at him, maybe to test him. He is expected to look away. It is unheard of for a half-blood to meet the gaze of a pureblood. Our history says that his race doesn’t deserve to exist, much less live with us. It’s because of what he is. He is the offspring of two pure-bloods, the ultimate defiance of Odon.
It frightens me to even think of going against Odon. All the books tell of his limitless power, endless knowledge, forgiveness and insatiable wrath. I have no doubt he would find me, persecute me if I ever—the half-blood continues toward me. He is the representation of two fallen servants of Odon, and yet my eyes will not turn away. Something leaps inside me when his eyes meet mine. I have a moment’s thought—Doesn’t he know I’m a pure-blood?—but he doesn’t seem to notice at all.
I’m surprised by my initial dislike that fades into an aching fear. He continues to meet my gaze. I wonder what expression has formed on my face, although there should be none at all. When we pass on opposite sides of the hallway, an unmistakable smile forms on his face. I gasp and drop my books. He is nowhere in sight as purebloods help me gather them back up.
The thought of him follows me into the library and festers at the back of my mind among other open sores. The question whether I should report him continues to resurface in my thoughts. I’ve only told on a student once before.
She was a part-blood, and we were eleven years old. I remember her brown eyes and wavy blond hair. The Finlet in her had given her the darker eyes, but they were not as black as a pureblood Finlet’s would have been. She had fair skin that wasn’t quite fair enough to be pure. It was obvious she was a part-blood.
We were waiting in line for lunch. A part-blood is always expected to sacrifice their spot in line to a pureblood, another privilege we are taught to uphold. But when I asked this girl to let me take her spot, she wholeheartedly refused. Her mouth twisted into a pout and her eyes narrowed into a stubborn glare. Even after I politely explained that I was pure and showed her my eyes and pointed at my hair, she just shook her head.
I was surprised, but pressed no further. Instead I did what I was told to do, being too young and ignorant to fully understand. I approached a nearby teacher and explained what had happened. I was told I had done the responsible thing, I was told I was a good little Winglet—and I never saw that girl again.
The memory makes my stomach cringe. Despite the time that has passed, it remains vivid. I try to keep it hidden, to save myself from the wave of anxiety that overcomes me each time I recall her face. Do the others suffer in silence like me? If they do, it never reaches their eyes."
(pg. 2, Oriana's Eyes - Book One of the Great Oak Trilogy, by Celeste Simone)
About Celeste Simone:
Celeste Simone has been writing and reading fantasy for as long as she can remember. She began writing her first novel Oriana’s Eyes: Book One of the Great Oak Trilogy, when she was 14 years old.
For years Celeste has pored over her novel in order to capture both a powerful meaning and poignant love story.
Celeste’s short stories and poetry have been published in multiple literary journals and she currently works at a private university in New England.
She enjoys spending time in nature, hiking, horse-back riding, and biking.
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