MY LOST NAME: A CLOUDLING’S QUEST
A companion novella set in the TWINS OF ORION world
As if by miracle, 13-year-old Benny and her twin brothers discover a way to escape the Cloudling slave quarry. Everything is upended when they’re forced to move up their timeline to avoid separation. Through a story of hope and loss, Benny is going to have to find her courage if she’s going to survive. Because making it to the hidden sanctuary city is their only hope.
Will they make it to Turopia safely . . . or die trying?
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MY LOST NAME: A Cloudling’s Quest
The Quarry takes Everything
I don’t have a name. The slave masters always call us the lavans, or lav for short. When I couldn’t speak, the woman who was like my mother in the first camp called me Benny. It stuck. I don’t really care either way—I just know it wasn’t the name my real mother gave me. Apparently, Benny was the name of her daughter who died—I was just the replacement.
“Break the rock faster, you lav,” master Joerman ordered.
This Human was a muscular figure, with close-cropped brown hair, and skin tanned from the sun. My Cloudling skin would never get like that—it remained pure white, always devoid of pigment. Our only color being the bright red of our eyes.
My name is Benny! I wanted to shout. But I kept my mouth shut. I settled with whispering my name under my breath.
It wasn’t my real name, but it was all I had.
I stabbed my shovel in the dirt, as if I were piercing him in the back. But I knew I couldn’t. His magic would stop me before my swing even landed. Steep quarry walls jutted up around me, making escape impossible.
My real name was lost when the slave masters stole me from my home in North Ratna. I try to go back to the time when I knew my name, but I was only four. It’s been almost nine years, nine long years of re-conditioning, and still I fight back.
Like saying my name.
They don’t name us. I’ve been under Jeorman’s command for three years. He knows the other Cloudlings call me Benny—and still he calls me lav.
I’ve long since forgotten what my mother and father look like. Some of the older slaves remember. They tell us the old stories, the ones of our heritage, and who our people are. I devour all the stories.
As I work, I tell myself the stories over and over again. When I am old, I am going to be a storyteller. I’ll tell stories to remind the little ones who they are. I’ll tell stories to remind the older ones where they come from and who we used to be. And stories to heal the heart. To remember.
I’m weaving a story right now as I work to break ground on this new area of the quarry.
It tells the magical tale of how one brave girl escaped with her twin brothers and their surrogate mother, Lavendy. They made it across the ocean to Seaside—okay, so I don’t really remember where we came from and my older brothers don’t either. But Seaside is where most of the other stolen Cloudlings are from—so I’d start there.
I have no connections to my past life. Except a small tattoo on the side of my cloud-white ankle—just like my twin brothers. It’s simple—three lines—one for each of us.
How my mama knew their practice of splitting up families, I’ll never know. I may not remember much, but I’ll never forget that night. The night we were stolen from our homes, from our lives.
My last memory of home is of sitting in our house high in the trees, reading an oversized book, when my mama came and snatched me. She dragged me to the kitchen, where my twin brothers were screaming on the floor.
What’s happening? I remember thinking over and over.
Papa held me down while Mama quickly tattooed the three lines across my ankle. I screamed and thrashed.
“Remember your family,” she kept saying over and over again.
Then I heard the screams—not mine or my brothers’—but from below. And that’s when I felt the heat.
I hopped over to the window to see our village in flames. People were running around helter-skelter, being rounded up and snatched away. Timber from our hanging bridges and homes clattered to the ground like thunder. Three wagons with wooden cages lined the edge of town. They were full . . . of my people.
Bodies lay strewn about, burning, bloodied, forgotten. I turned to my mother, who wrapped her arms around me. “Never forget.”
But I did forget.
I don’t remember my name.
I don’t remember my mother’s name.
But today it is worse.
Today is the anniversary of our stolen day.
The day I became a lav.
Magical Staining Dirt
Water pounded from the sky. I realized I’d zoned out a little too long and my older brothers Willy and Ambly could be punished. That’s where the slave masters were wise . . . and cruel. Instead of merely punishing the culprit, they’d lash the arms of the people we cared about.
And that was why the other slaves kept their distance as much as possible. Only showing care and affection when alone. For if you loved, it only caused them pain.
With no hair or eyelashes to soak the rain, water dripped down my forehead into my blood-red eyes—a signature design of Cloudlings. It went with our cloud-white skin—white like sea-foam surrounding our homeland.
I leaned against my shovel and wiped my eyes. The dirt from my hand stung. I winced. What was in this mud that was going to save us, yet caused so much pain?
“Keep working, lav!” the slave master said. His name was Jeorman, but I refused to use it. Just like he refused to use mine.
Benny. I corrected under my breath.
“What was that you said?”
He must have thought I’d said a slur. I brought my callused hands together around the shovel and bowed quickly. “Nothing.”
He pushed me into the cold mud. “There, that should help you.” He smirked, grabbed my shovel, then raised it high above my head.
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My Lost Name: A Cloudling's Quest
A TWINS OF ORION Companion Novella
My Lost Name: A Cloudling’s Quest is a riveting tale of courage, sacrifice, and hope, as 13-year-old Benny and her twin brothers hatch a desperate plan to escape from the evil king’s slave quarry. Will they be able to survive the constant threat of capture, heartbreaking loss, and a blizzard or will they lose courage?
For making it to the hidden sanctuary city is their only hope.
Note for guardians: Due to the challenging nature of Benny’s story, it’s recommended for ages 10 and up.
I pushed one of the blonde strands of Lavendy's wig out of her face and used the edge of my blanket cloak to dab the tears out of her eyes. “Al’monime,” I whispered the native Cloudling phrase she’d taught me, which roughly translated to, ‘my love is your love.’
Benny, from MY LOST NAME: A CLOUDLING’s QUEST by J. Rose
My Lost Name: A Cloudling’s Quest is a riveting tale of courage, sacrifice, and hope, as 13-year-old Benny and her twin brothers hatch a desperate plan to escape from the evil king’s slave quarry. Will they be able to survive the constant threat of capture, heartbreaking loss, and a blizzard or will they lose courage? For making it to the hidden sanctuary city is their only hope.