149 comments

Oct 14, 2020

Fantasy Drama

By Caden Hill


The falcon peered downwards at his prey.

He soared hundreds of feet in the air above a roiling Alaskan sea. The water steamed and bubbled, smashing against the dark rocks of the coast to produce titanic upthrusts of freezing liquid.

But despite the turmoil below him, the old Peregrine was unfazed. He had braved winters cold enough that the blood began to still within him, and winds so strong that they reduced towering pines to little more than broken twigs.

He flew through it all.

For if he would not fly, he would not live.

And today the old Peregrine flew once more upon the will of the wind.

He was hunting Alaskan Sea-Ducks. They bobbed far below him on gargantuan swells, appearing as fruit ripe for the picking to the master hunter.

He swiveled his head, observing everything in his domain. On the shore, dark rock gave way to sylvan green forests, mighty pines and cedars standing to attention. And beyond the forest, great white mountains so tall they must reach to heaven. On the water, scattered fleets of dark seabirds rested, at ease among the churning waters.

The old Peregrine needed the seabirds to sustain himself, but he himself could not fly close to the water. For if he were to brush the waves with his wings, the water would soak his feathers and he would drown, sinking helpless into the depths.

But the falcon had an ally.

A moment of silence dropped, and then the bird felt a great surge beneath his wings. The wild Alaskan wind had changed, as the old Peregrine knew it would. It now blew in a steady, powerful stream from the sea to the land, tugging on the swells and coercing them from gentle giants into roaring whitecaps.

The ducks took flight in spurts, racing along the sloping water until they built up enough momentum to escape the pull of the ocean.

The falcon dove like a fighter jet, pulling his wings into tight deltas. As he fell at over 150 miles an hour, he felt the wind, seeking guidance.

Go left, go left, the air seemed to tell his feathers. And so he did, jockeying with his primary feathers to angle himself left.

Just in time. A stray gust swooshed through his prior position, just the eddies knocking him off balance.

The falcon corrected with a flip of his wings.

Move that way, the wind urged him. And so he did.

Angle up, angle up! It whispered.

Twist like this! The gusts cajoled.

Ready your talons! The wind screamed.

Foot by foot, yard by yard, by thousand-meter stretch, the old Peregrine stooped towards the unwitting waterfowl, carefully listening to the will of the wind.

He acquired his target—a fat old duck a few seconds behind the rest of the meandering flock—angling towards it like a sleek messenger of death.

A hundred feet above the roaring ocean, he thrust his wings out, angling his feathers to pull sharply up out of the dive.

Talons extended, the powerful bird of prey collided with the stricken sea duck.

It’s body went limp as its spine was crushed.

The other ducks scattered at an astounding speed, calling loudly.

To them it was a call to flee and escape the predator, but for the falcon, it was a victory march.

He gripped the lifeless bird tighter, hovering for a moment in still air. Then he stroked his wings hard, riding for home on an invisible current of air.

As he skimmed the forest treetops, a grand Golden Eagle looked down upon him from a large eyrie. A signal passed between them, an acknowledgment of titles.

You are my brother of the Ocean.

You are my brother of the Forest.

We live apart but together. May this always be so, for as long as there is an Ocean and a Forest.

As he climbed the flanks of the mountain, ascending into the thinner atmosphere, a pair of large yellow eyes caught his from a hollow in one of the last trees.

A Snowy Owl.

You are my opposite, O hunter of the Day.

You are my opposite, O hunter of the Night.

We live in an inversion, a sacred tandem. One cannot exist without the other. May this always be so, for as long as there is Day and Night.

And as he landed on a windblown scrape on a high mountain ledge, a Vulture glided gracefully by his cliff-built home.

You are Guardian of Life.

You are Guardian of Death.

As the sun and moon chase each other, so must we, for neither belongs when the other is risen. May this always be so, for as long as there exists Life and Death—is that duck I see?

Then the old Peregrine chased the Vulture off with an annoyed screech.

Having secured his territory, title, and dinner, the falcon returned to his scrape to rest.


The next morning, there was silence.

The ocean was calm and still, steaming in the pale light.

In the forest life seemed to have vanished, burrowing into oblivion.

Up high on the mountain not even the wind made a sound.

The wary falcon lifted his wings into the blue sky, flying west over the forest.

It was too quiet.

Then a tiny whisper of wind brushed his tail-feathers. There is another. The Wind told him.

Razor sharp talons sliced in front of him, their gleaming edges mere inches from his beak.

The new Peregrine had overshot his lethal plunge, but was swooping up and around for another pass.

The old falcon rolled right, and then dove for the forest floor. He would have the advantage in the tighter spaces dues to his shorter wingspan.

But he never made it.

The new Peregrine whipped the air with his wings and caught up, snatching at the other falcon’s tail-feathers!

Control shredded by merciless talons, the battered raptor wobbled, and then fell, crashing through evergreen needles bouncing off hard branches, and thumping into the forest floor.

He felt his left wing twist unnaturally beneath him and let out a startled caw of pain.

The new, young Peregrine swooped overhead, peering down his hooked beak. I’m not just going to kill you, I’m going to leave you, to give you a petty hope of survival. The strongest will survive. May it always be so.

Struggling to get up, the old Peregrine could do nothing but watch as the invader began to terrorize the other inhabitants of the forest.

He raged at the Snowy Owl, sending the night hunter flurrying into the deepest recesses of his hollow.

I am master of both Day and Night!

He murdered the Vulture, snapping it’s spine with a single decisive blow.

I control Life and Death!

The impostor even dared to harass the massive Golden Eagle, slashing at him with lightning fast talons swipes and dives.

I rule the Ocean and the Forest!

And as the hours passed, the Eagle flew away, the Snowy retreated, and every time the intruder passed the old Peregrine over, he repeated the same mantra as before.

The old, proud falcon huddled on the ground until nightfall came. When darkness finally closed over the earth, and the raucous cawing of the invader could no longer be heard, he raised his wings. The clever old bird had been faking an injury far worse than the reality.

He beat them once, flinching at the pain in his left. He beat them twice more, this time rising a little off the ground.

Things rustled in the bushes nearby, trundling closer with every second.

He beat them even harder, ignoring the stabbing rod of agony that thrust itself through his shoulder.

Shining eyes appeared in a patch of foliage off his right side. The raccoon sprang out at the injured bird like a jack-in-the-box teddy bear, clawing in a frenzy.

The old Peregrine lifted off into the cool night sky, driven by the new impetus to avoid being eaten. He was taxed to his limits to stay aloft, but he was not through yet.

Immediately after he cleared the treetops, a cool breeze announced the Wind’s presence. Where are you flying? Where are you flying?

He did not know. Two rival male Peregrines could not live in this area. If the intruder did not kill him prior, when the winter got cold and food got scarce, the young Peregrine would finish it.

The Wind whispered again. Go south…Fly away from here and find a new life.

He had no life but this.

In the south it is warm, and there is prey aplenty.

He had never hunted anything besides the Alaskan ducks.

In the south you can rest and heal.

He did not want to live if he could not live in his home. But…something told him he should listen to the Wind. An instinct written on his hollow bones led him to listen to the Wind, and the same instinct led him to answer:

You are my Master, my Freedom.

You are my Sea Flier, Day Hunter, Guardian of Life.

May it always be so. For as long as there is Ocean and Forest, and Day and Night, and Life and Death.

For as long as falcons have wings and the Wind fills their feathers, I will listen to the Will of the Wind.

Then the old Peregrine turned, and setting the ocean on his right and the forest to his left, he slowly winged his way south.

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149 comments

Rhondalise Mitza
21:11 Oct 14, 2020

Here you go! This was much better. THIS is where the disconnect works.

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21:14 Oct 14, 2020

Thx. :)

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19:55 Oct 15, 2020

Any way I could make it better?

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Rhondalise Mitza
20:07 Oct 15, 2020

Um, sure! I'll make a small list. There weren't that many things, though.

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Rhondalise Mitza
20:16 Oct 15, 2020

The only thing that hasn't already been mentioned by others is that it was long. There were some parts I'd cut just to make it easier to get through.

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11:10 Oct 16, 2020

Any specifics?

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Rhondalise Mitza
12:55 Oct 16, 2020

I don't think so, just look for parts the story can do without.

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20:45 Oct 14, 2020

Ok, got this one semi-finished. ;) Haven't decided if I'm going to write more or just leave it like it is. Same things apply as with my other story--I want hard critique, and want to know exactly what you think. :) All likes, comments and upvotes are greatly appreciated.

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R. K.
23:16 Oct 14, 2020

I really love this one! The imagery is spectacular and oh so lyrical. The most powerful statements don't have to be spoken and you did a great job here; even without dialogue, it flowed beautifully. And, I absolutely adore your description of the relentless wind, wild forests and especially the untamable sea. Stories about the ocean are my favourites — I write them all the time but have only posted one here. I could totally see this getting shortlisted :) One thing, the last sentence repeats 'the' twice and perhaps another words beside ...

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23:31 Oct 14, 2020

Thanks for the comment. :D I'll take another look at that last bit. :)

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13:19 Oct 15, 2020

--Replaced "putting" with "setting". Thanks for the suggestion. :) --Fixed the double "the". Was intended to read, "Then the"

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R. K.
13:28 Oct 15, 2020

It's lovely Caden :)

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13:34 Oct 15, 2020

Thx. ;)

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19:13 Oct 15, 2020

I posted a third entry to this contest--not much more than a few jumbled ideas, but might be worth a few laughs if ya'll want to check it out. ;)

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Philip Clayberg
23:01 Oct 14, 2020

I liked this story much more than your other story. This story was amazing. It feels like something that Kipling would've written as one of the stories in "The Jungle Book" ... which is praise, not criticism. One pedantic comment, however: the neuter possessive is "its", not "it's". The latter is a contraction of "it is". Happy writing!

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23:05 Oct 14, 2020

Thanks. :) Yeah, I like to unconsciously mix up "its" and "it's", lol.

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23:14 Oct 14, 2020

I fixed the one instance I found--there may be others. 😂

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Philip Clayberg
02:55 Oct 15, 2020

I don't remember seeing any others. If you want, I can go back and read the short story more thoroughly and see what else I can find. My day job is transcribing from audio files (my boss translates documents from German to English, I type them, she edits them, and then she sends them to her clients), so trying to be careful of spelling (and grammar) is something I normally do. I even find errors in books that were published back in the 1970s or earlier (before books were printed via computers and laser printers), as well as current-day ...

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11:32 Oct 15, 2020

Yeah, I've been writing for six years now, and my grammar has skyrocketed, but I'm still not the best at it. ;) I blame it on being a teenager. XD

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Philip Clayberg
13:38 Oct 15, 2020

Nothing wrong with being a teenager. We all have to go through it and some have it easier than others. My teen years (1979-1986) weren't always happy ones, but at least I had books and a small group of good friends who helped me get through it. I found that imitating my older brothers (I'm youngest of 3) didn't really help in the end. I did want to be popular like my middle brother, but I didn't really want to *be* him. Or my oldest brother, for that matter. So I had to learn to be me, which I'm still doing, all these years later. It'...

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Ann Doe
08:42 Oct 22, 2020

I love the imagery. It is quite heavy, but you stayed consistent which makes it enjoyable.

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11:31 Oct 22, 2020

Thanks for checking this out. :)

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16:54 Oct 20, 2020

Just a note ya'll, I'm now going to start working on my current Reedsy project in a Google Doc that's open for anyone to view. Just head to my page and scroll down the bio to find the link--I'm open to all comments and suggestions. :)

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21:07 Oct 19, 2020

Aha! Will of the Wind has finally been approved.

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I just wanted to keep this short and sweet (cause I have a project due in 5 mins that I've been procastinating about) This is my first time I've read any of your work, and WOW you have a way with words that sounds so poetic! The imagrey that went along with this story is amazing and I loved reading it! Can't wait to read more!

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19:41 Oct 19, 2020

Thx for checking my work out. :)

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Andrew Krey
00:43 Oct 19, 2020

Hey Caden, I enjoyed your story, I liked the concept of a social contract between the birds of prey until the usurper arrives! I especially enjoyed the conversation with the wind, I thought this was a great concept, and worked well in your story

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01:39 Oct 19, 2020

Thx. ;) Any way it could be better?

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Andrew Krey
01:58 Oct 19, 2020

For me I think being more focused could make it work better, as you cover a lot in a single story. For example with the other 'allies' if you chose one bird, you'd have the extra words to build their relationship more, which would make the reader connect more, and therefore be more concerned about the usurper. This could also play a part with the migration - i.e. the bird leaves its territory, and it's friend...but will also have the worry of how the friend will cope without their old ally. Short stories is a specific beast, and often les...

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02:09 Oct 19, 2020

Interesting angle. I never thought of that before. My goal in adding the other birds was to give a 'big-picture' view of how the whole little ecosystem was balanced and connected. However, it never came into my mind to make the relationships between the birds deeper, and thus create more tension when the falcon must leave. Really good insights. Though it is too late to change now, I'll remember that in the future, and if I redo it in my personal doc, I'll link it to you. A side note...you say I covered a lot in a single story--I was origi...

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Andrew Krey
03:22 Oct 19, 2020

Yeah for me, I want to include so much plot in all my stories, but then for the word count you have to then sacrifice character development. For me, it's another aspect to 'killing your darlings' - when I come up with the premise I have lots of ideas, so I have to pick the ones I think are the 'best', then kill the rest. That's part of the reason I decided to create a single universe to set all my stories, so the things I cut may appear again in another story if that character appears again. For mine I decided to use the migration as cont...

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11:27 Oct 19, 2020

Yeah, I agree. When I get too carried away with my writing, the words build up fast... The first story I entered to this contest ended up being exactly 3,000 words.

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Charles Stucker
14:33 Oct 15, 2020

As he fell at over 150- dove or dived (one of the odd changes by nation verbs) Golden eagles do sometimes eat peregrine falcons. I laughed at the vulture's line. Not sure if the falcon can fly with any broken bones in the wing. If you can ask a wildlife vet, you might want to. Of course, if he's a magic falcon...fantasy tag... my understanding is a single crunch is lethal in the wild. Don't peregrines migrate every year? The name peregrine means migrate IIRC. This works for the prompt and on its own. The only issues are more ...

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14:45 Oct 15, 2020

Peregrines don't always migrate south. Those living in warmer climes often don't migrate at all, and the ones living in Canada and Alaska only migrate sometimes. Yes, I know that Golden's do tend to kill and eat Peregrines, being much larger and stronger, but for the sake of the story I idealized the relationships the birds have. I meant to add that the old Peregrine was foxing with the wing (hurt but not broken), but couldn't quite seem to find a good place to put it without interrupting the flow of the story. Thanks for the read!

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15:28 Oct 15, 2020

Ok, I just fixed the part about the broken wing. Added in the line, "The clever old bird had been faking an injury far worse than the reality."

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Charles Stucker
16:56 Oct 15, 2020

I just came in to say, make him hit with a thump instead of crunch, just a one word substitution, but you don't immediately think broken bone like crunch does. So it looks like you're good.

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17:00 Oct 15, 2020

Ok, good idea!

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17:03 Oct 15, 2020

This is what I changed the line to: "He felt his left wing twist unnaturally beneath him and let out a startled caw of pain." as "He felt his left wing thump beneath him" doesn't exactly work.

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Khadija S.
18:15 Nov 18, 2020

Wow! I really enjoyed this! The conversations between other birds was beautiful, and the over all story was so poetic and lovely!

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20:36 Nov 18, 2020

Thanks for reading!

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Beth Connor
15:48 Nov 17, 2020

Thank you for recommending this story- your imagery really shines, and I connect with it personally (I used to live in Anchorage, and could visualize sitting on the rocks at Beluga Point watching this story unfold) If I could offer any critique, it would be to simplify, and go with that mystical feeling.

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15:50 Nov 17, 2020

Thanks for reading! 😊

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05:14 Nov 07, 2020

I really liked this story, and I thought the ending was really well-written. I don't really have any critique, just things I liked about the story. I thought the repetition and the way the "you are the guardian of life" sections were written, they added a lot to the story :)

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13:42 Nov 07, 2020

Thx for reading. :)

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00:44 Nov 08, 2020

You're welcome! I'm making my way through your stories in between writing mine, and I'm really enjoying it :D

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13:05 Nov 09, 2020

Neat. ;)

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11:37 Oct 23, 2020

This was beautiful, your imagery, tone and pacing are spot on. I really enjoyed this!

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12:11 Oct 23, 2020

Thanks for reading! :)

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17:48 Oct 22, 2020

You, my friend, are officially following the most people ever. Congratulations! 👏

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17:56 Oct 22, 2020

XD The most out of anyone I've found at least. ;)

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17:56 Oct 22, 2020

Ah, I see you're a WoF fan?

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00:25 Oct 22, 2020

Hello Leo! (by the way, I like your new pen name!) I absolutely loved this story!! I just saw a few grammatical issues I'd let you know about. For if he were to brush the waves with his wings, the water would soak his feathers and he would drown, sinking helpless into the depths. - change 'helpless' to 'helplessly' To them it was a call to flee and escape the predator, but for the falcon, it was a victory march. - add a comma after 'them' Up high on the mountain not even the wind made a sound. - add a comma after 'mountain' Razo...

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00:44 Oct 22, 2020

Nah of course. ;) Thanks so much for the review! Are you by chance my critique circle buddy? I got the email today...

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00:45 Oct 22, 2020

No problem! No, I'm not, I just thought I'd come to check out your story!

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00:47 Oct 22, 2020

Ok, cool. ;) Reedsy sent me a list of eight people that I've gotta go through and critique--and I recognize none of the names. :P Should be interesting.

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00:57 Oct 22, 2020

Oh, yeah! They sent me four! The only one I recognized was Ink (Inkstained Introvert). If you haven't yet, you should go check out her stories! They're pretty awesome!

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01:03 Oct 22, 2020

Lol, I've got no clue why they sent me eight people...in four separate emails. XD. I've heard of Ink, but I don't think I've ever read any of her stories--would you mind posting a link to her profile here if you can get one easily? It's my least favorite part about Reedsy; no search engines.

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Suzi Zinn
20:38 Oct 21, 2020

Nice story.

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20:39 Oct 21, 2020

Thanks for reading!

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Scott Snyder
15:31 Oct 21, 2020

This is nicely crafted. I enjoyed the imagery, the sounds, and the opponents.

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18:48 Oct 21, 2020

Thx for the read. ;)

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Radhika Diksha
08:53 Oct 21, 2020

well written plot, loved the way you wrote the story. The story was in flow and characters were well written. If you have time please give your worthy feedback on my story too.

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Radhika Diksha
08:53 Oct 21, 2020

well written plot, loved the way you wrote the story. The story was in flow and characters were well written. If you have time please give your worthy feedback on my story too.

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11:43 Oct 21, 2020

Of course. ;) I'll check it out.

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Frank Lester
16:51 Oct 20, 2020

Very nice work. My only comment, it is long and I thought some of your descriptions were a bit too flowery. Keeping it simple can be as strong or stronger than colorful wording--purple prose. Just something to look at. Overall, it was well done and enjoyable. Thanks for the read.

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16:52 Oct 20, 2020

Nah, thank you for the read, lol. ;)

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