tiny piscine heart

Submitted into Contest #99 in response to: Begin your story with somebody watching the sunrise, or sunset.... view prompt

82 comments

Fantasy Romance Sad

Talia watches the sun set over a field of corpses.







It’s a red sunset, rich and shimmering like the blood forming rivulets between the soot-stained uniforms at her feet. A bleeding sun casting its forlorn gaze over bleeding bodies.







Bodies that Talia had danced with to the tune of swordplay not an hour ago, steel kissing steel, until hers had tasted flesh and relished it. She searches for any semblance of triumph in the colorless eyes staring back from her blade, only to find a crimson tear scurrying down its length to stain her fingers. As if her sword is weeping for her. Bleeding for her.







Bleeding.  







That’s how Talia had found Miriam, a decade and a lifetime ago. Is that how she’ll find her here too?







Because there had been hundreds of sunsets back then as well, except they'd been serene like the hilltop air they’d filled with laughter and gorgeous like the dress of caddisfly silk Talia had gifted her. And Talia has been told countless times that things have a habit of ending in the same place they begin. A sapling sprouting triumphantly out of the dirt, only to be transformed into a siege weapon for the enemy to burn back to the ground. A salmon dodging hungry talons on her way upstream, only to die on the very riverbed she’d hatched on. 







A girl called Miriam, wounds sewn shut, answering her nation’s cries of distress.







Only to bleed all over again.







It’s a cruel and vicious circle, and Talia wants to break it. Grab the loose ends and string it into a kinder shape; a heart, maybe, or a star. She wants to take the circle in the sky, the one halfway down the horizon’s throat, and freeze it in place. An eternal sunset, where she and Miriam can just… be.






Where Miriam doesn’t have to wait for Talia to find her in this godforsaken place, while they both watch the world end around them.







(“I hate the sun,” Talia had muttered sleepily an eternity ago, before her realm declared war on Miriam's.







They’d both been lying on their backs in dew-kissed grass, and Miriam’s dark ringlets had spread across the ground like a pool of molasses, filling the air with the scent of marjoram.







“Why?” 







“Because when the sun is gone, so are you.” And of course Talia had been talking about the curfew imposed by Mother, the one that would cut their quiet hilltop sessions short.







“I don’t hate it,” Miriam had said.







Talia had given her an incredulous look.







“Because,” Miriam had said in response to the question written on her face, “I only get to see you when the sun’s out.”







She’d then closed her eyes and let the breeze wash over her, and she had never looked more content.







Talia had reached up and tried to clap the sun between her palms.)







Talia takes one step, making sure not to slip in bodily fluids, and finds a gauntlet-clad hand on her shoulder. Gentle, but insistent.







“The day is won, Your Royal Highness,” reminds General Noel. “Sheathe your sword. Stay. Celebrate.”







“I can’t,” says Talia.







I have to find her, she doesn’t say, because she doesn’t have to.







The elderly soldier lets out a sigh, and it’s a wistful little thing. “Please. There is nothing left for you here, Princess. Nothing.”







“I’m sorry.”







Talia leaves the man to dwell on her words, and begins searching a sea of faces for the only one that has ever mattered.

















































“Duty before love.”

—Motto of the Warrin dynasty, allegedly coined by King Callagun IV, Year 1254

















































Talia Warrin is eleven years old when her mother, the Queen of Gregale and more of a walking thundercloud than a functioning parent, takes her on a voyage across the sea to settle a dispute in a neighboring realm.







“You are not to speak to the locals without my permission,” she instructs Talia in their lavishly furnished cabin. “Understood?”







Talia nods because to disobey her mother is to disobey Kemarre XIII, known throughout the realms for sanctioning public castrations of court rivals. And that’s when she’s in a good mood.







“A Warrin obeys until they know how to command,” recites Captain Noel, a few years away from a promotion and a full beard.







Talia has a soft spot for the battle-hardened commander because he is warm where Mother is cold, and because she can rely on him to entertain her whenever Mother and her bodyguards do a piss-poor job of it. Like now, when Talia has been left to her own devices and so goes above deck to drink in the tang of the sea breeze, and perhaps catch a glimpse of this faraway land.







“What if I don’t want to do either of those things?” she asks as Captain Noel sits her on the flat side of a rum cask so she can peer over the gunwale.







“Oh? What do you want to do, then, Your Royal Highness, if it’s not to listen or lead?”







That’s when the ocean erupts in a flurry of flying fish, their silver-scaled bodies glistening like slivers of the moon. Talia giggles when Captain Noel has to block one with his vambrace before it collides with her face.








“That,” she answers as she points at a fish gliding overhead, fins splayed out gracefully like a pair of translucent wings.







I want to fly, she doesn’t say. Not when Mother will clip her wings. I want to soar over everyone’s heads, and leave this place behind.







Perhaps, if she could know the cleansing fire to come in the next few years, she would pay heed to the way Captain Noel’s brow furrows at her answer. And perhaps she would also stop listening to her heart, the one that beats off key to the rest of her dynasty’s, before it’s too late.







(It’s already too late.)







Talia is eleven years old when she sets foot on foreign sand and savors the scent of marjoram on the breeze.


















































“The Warrin dynasty are as cold and harsh as the storms that ravage their realm. Show them no mercy, for you will receive none.”

—Pre-battle speech by Zara, Admiral of the Red Navy, Year 1431


















































“Go away.”







It’s the first thing Miriam ever says to her. Talia had left the villa for an afternoon stroll, a retinue of guards attached to her like a suckerfish because she’s the heiress to the Amber Throne and might shatter at the faintest gust of wind, when she’d come upon a skinny girl clutching a blood-streaked foot on top of a hill.







It will be some time before Miriam divulges the three melodious syllables of her name, but it doesn’t stop Talia from ordering the guards to get her treated despite Mother’s warning, because of course the physicians they’ve brought along are skilled enough to dispel scorpionfish venom.







Miriam thinks Talia should mind her own business.







Talia thinks Miriam is also eleven years old, and would look cute in a dress.







Perhaps she’s lonely because all her friends are in a different realm, or perhaps there’s something about the way Miriam’s ink-black eyes well with tears when the physicians wind a honey-drenched bandage around her foot, because Talia is drawn to her.







(Like a moth to a flame, except they’re both moths, and both flames.)







While Mother grows grey hairs over a quarrel with the realm’s ruler that Talia is too young to understand, she finds excuses to ditch her tutors and sparring sessions for more afternoon strolls. Not before she bribes her bodyguards into silence, of course, because the last thing Talia wants is for Mother to discover that a certain fisherman’s daughter has caught her attention.







At first, Miriam’s eyes are wide with fear to learn that Talia is not only a foreigner, but royalty, and her parents react similarly, huddling into one another in their little seaside hut.







So Talia tells her guards to keep their distance, and starts bringing the family gifts: a lamp powered by luminous plankton, a dagger with a gigantic ruby pommel, a frilly pink dress that looks about Miriam’s size.






And soon they see Talia for what she really is. Bored. Lonely.






Human.






It’s Miriam that twines her fingers around Talia’s one day and takes her up a hill, the very one they'd first locked eyes on, and will be their haven in the years to come. They spar with sticks until sundown, Talia’s training rubbing off on Miriam, then collapse together in fits of sweat-drenched laughter. And it’s together that they watch the sun go down, just to make sure their time is up.






They’re both eleven years old when they build a world of their own atop a hill, and it’s beautiful.






It will be some time before they learn beauty and cruelty often tread the same thin line.
















































“The mind of a child is a blade being forged: it will adopt several imperfect forms before it cools and sets, never to change again. Unless it were to snap.”

—Chinara the Cognizant, Madreza scholar, Year 1399
















































The sun is an angry ruby shard on the horizon when someone calls out to Talia on the battlefield.







She picks through corpses and clumps of dislodged viscera on her way to a man with most of his limbs left and not much time.







“Do it.” The phlegm he coughs up is as red as the sky. “Finish what you started.”







Talia crouches. She only wants one thing in return.







A girl.







Skin like sweet caramel.







Hair like a treacle waterfall.







Laughter like a wind chime by the sea.







Eyes that had once looked to the horizon with hope.







But Talia knows when words will fall on deaf ears, so she plunges her sword between the man’s eyes. She listens to the song of a splitting skull, the deafening silence that comes afterwards. She takes in the stench of death wafting out of his brain, thick and syrupy. She tries not to imagine Miriam’s tender face under the red ruin before her, and fails.







Talia weeps for the remainder of her search.

















































“A peasant will gaze upon the walls of the Amber Keep and pine for its warmth. The Royal children already there will gaze out of their tower bedrooms and pine for freedom.”

—Jarrah, Royal Advisor, Year 1329

















































Talia is twelve years old when her mother takes her back across the sea. Her heart shudders and bleeds, so much that even Captain Noel is powerless to console her. It’s not until she turns sixteen and is old enough to settle her realm’s political matters on her own that the world starts to turn once more.







She goes back to Miriam taller and wiser, with a fearsome swordhand and a glint in her eye. Miriam, who has become breathtaking from head to toe, and has held every precious memory close to her soul. They relish Talia’s newfound freedom together, up on the hill where they can watch everything else shrink below them, even though they both know it’s a lie.







(“When I grow up,” Talia had told her once, “I’ll be able to spread my wings and see you whenever I want.”







“I’m not sure about that, Lia. When you grow up, I think you’ll be busy.”







“Busy doing what?”







“I don’t know. Princess things.”







Talia had been silent for a few heartbeats too long after that.)







She can’t get enough of it. Miriam is the sea breeze and warm sunbeams and the sky stretching out into blissful, ignorant forever, and Talia can’t get enough of it.







She’s eighteen years old when General Noel, fresh off a promotion, reminds her that the world is cruel. “War is coming, Your Royal Highness. With all due respect, you cannot continue down this path.”







Because of course he knows about the two of them, even when Mother doesn’t. It hurts to hear it, but it’s not until reality wraps its grimy tendrils around Miriam that the world they’ve built shatters like glass. Like the fragile thing it’s always been.







“I’ve been enlisted.”







Three words to gouge a deep, dark valley in Talia’s beating heart.







“I’m sorry, Lia.”







Three more to fill it with tears.







Because of course Miriam was never free to begin with. Not when she’s just another minnow, swimming into whatever corner the bigger fish chase her into.







Unlike Talia, who has always had a choice. And yet, it’s only when she pretends she isn’t a Warrin, and doesn’t have preheated baths and scores of servants at her disposal, that she feels like she can fly.







If only the two realms could just… get along. But how could Talia have hoped to resolve something that even Mother couldn’t?







“Remember the family words,” Mother tells Talia when she retreats behind the cold walls of the Amber Keep as a husk of her former self. “Duty before love.”







And right there and then, it’s just—







It’s just too much.







Talia flees to her chambers and sobs into the night, back arched under the weight of an invisible crown. The aroma of peppermint and spiced honey on her pillows had comforted her, once.







By the time her throat is raw and her sheets are drenched in melancholy, she finds General Noel sitting on her bedside. She hadn’t allowed him in, but he’d entered anyway because he is devoted to her and won’t hesitate to disobey direct orders if it means saving Talia from herself.







“Remember the flying fish?” he asks as she curls into his warmth.







Talia nods numbly.







“A fish might soar through the sky for as long as its tiny piscine heart desires, but it must return to the water. Where it belongs.”







“What if it doesn’t want to return to the water?”







The aging man brushes Talia’s hair out of her eyes. “That same fish can pine for wings all it wants, but it will never be a bird. And it will never be happy until it accepts that.”







She doesn’t get angry at him for not calling her “Your Royal Highness.”







On the day she begrudgingly allows an army to kneel before her, Talia’s heart scabs over and her tears crystallize into bladed edges. She tells herself that she and Miriam are only meat caught between the jaws of this cruel world, that they are lucky to have even made it this far together before being chewed to a pulp and spat back out.







(It’s not fair.)







But as she stands at the prow of a warship, she can’t help watching Miriam’s homeland crest the horizon with eyes of childlike wonder.







(It’s not. Fucking. Fair.)







And as she charges into battle with a sword held to the sun and a battlecry bursting from her lips, she can’t seem to tell the scent of marjoram apart from that of blood.

















































“I am not a blade, Father. When you polish my face and hone my edges to sharpness, know that there is a heart beating underneath.”

—Burnum Warrin, heir to the Amber Throne, moments before being exiled, Year 1288

















































The day is almost over when she finds Miriam nestled between a man and a woman that have had their abdomens ripped open to unmask a nest of pink intestines. Talia doesn’t have to look at the crimson flower blooming across Miriam’s left breast to know her fate is sealed.







(Because it was sealed long ago.)







She crouches and cups a hand over Miriam’s cheek as they find each other’s smiles through their tears. Miriam’s request is a wordless one, but it’s okay because Talia knows what she wants.







(What they both want.)







Talia carries her gingerly, lovingly, twining her fingers around Miriam’s the same way Miriam had done the first time she’d taken her up a hillside. The same hillside that is now littered with bodies and bloodstained banners and memories left in tatters.







But everything is untouched up here on the hilltop, as if fate has left a spot for the two of them, because things have a habit of ending where they begin. Talia rests Miriam in the grass before lying down beside her, where they both belong, and always will.







(Talia had asked Miriam a question here, two eternities ago.






Miriam had shrugged. “Because you’re here. And because I can.”







Talia had cherished those words, and still does, because they’re as simple and carefree as the person Miriam is. Because simple and carefree are things Talia can’t have, the same way she can't have Miriam.







“Your turn, Lia. Why do you love me?”







“Because you’re so warm.”







Miriam had responded with a kiss, as if to prove Talia right. And she’d loved the taste even if it'd been fleeting, just like the air that had once been thick with laughter and the scent of marjoram and Talia and Miriam.)







As the day fades, Talia wonders, not for the first time, whether it had been foolish to try to carve out a small place of their own in this world that hates them so much. She only has to read the contented look on Miriam's face as she, too, fades to know the answer.







For the last time, they watch the sun disappear over the horizon.







And for the last time, they are free.


















































“In the waters around Gregale are curious fish that have learnt to spread their fins and glide short distances over the ocean’s surface. My colleagues and I are in agreement that this is a strategy for escaping marlins and other aquatic predators. Unfortunately, flying fish are easily picked off by birds once they take to the skies. It is almost as if the universe is punishing them for existing.”

—Aaban, Madreza scholar, Year 1366  

June 20, 2021 17:25

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82 comments

Rayhan Hidayat
17:38 Jun 20, 2021

Back to my usual style! Badass lesbians, lots of tears, and unecessarily large spaces between paragraphs. If the Warrin dynasty strikes your fancy, you can check out more of their antics in "Shell”, which is told from the POV of one of Talia's distant descendants—> https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/contests/53/submissions/28836/

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Pippin Took
18:46 Jun 22, 2021

Hey Rayhan! So I'm coming to bother you about a new story I just posted. Go read it pls. Thanks lol

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Rayhan Hidayat
21:14 Jun 22, 2021

i'll get around to it, looking forward! :)

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Pippin Took
23:36 Jun 22, 2021

thx!! :D

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18:07 Jul 24, 2021

*absolutely in love* the question is, though, is it with you, rayhan, or with this story? i can't seem to tell-

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Rayhan Hidayat
19:59 Jul 24, 2021

Oh my. Well I am flattered either way *bats eyelashes and hopes you’re legal*

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22:38 Jul 24, 2021

i'm already planning our wedding, don't worry! (and if you even try to reject me... *sharpens knife yet again* *it can't be sharp enough* *i have issues* *leave me alone*)

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H L Mc Quaid
16:08 Jun 21, 2021

I feel like I've just read a mesmerising novella...Such convincing world-building, and full-blooded characters, and snippets of dusty advice from long-dead men weaving it all together. great stuff. That's all the words I have left, after you used all the good ones.

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Rayhan Hidayat
18:29 Jun 21, 2021

Hey, some of those snippets of advice were by women too, you know! Thanks so much, that's quite a compliment coming from someone who's an ace at character-building :D

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H L Mc Quaid
09:21 Jun 23, 2021

Whoops! I stand corrected. :)

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13:54 Jun 21, 2021

Third time you've changed the title. Don't look at me, I've been counting.🙈

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Rayhan Hidayat
15:21 Jun 21, 2021

YOU CAUGHT ME 😂 I think it stays now though…

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A.G. Scott
19:42 Jun 20, 2021

The opening is kickass, all of your descriptions and metaphors are so distinctive and engaging. I'm also interested in the world you've created here (especially because of the quotes/epigraphs).... Don't be shy; drop the whole novel. The sentence/paragraph that begins with 'Perhaps' and ends with 'before it's too late' is a little busy. I might prefer italics to the parentheticals you used, but I can understand the choice. Overall, I'm really glad to have read this.

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Rayhan Hidayat
08:33 Jun 21, 2021

Thanks, I'm glad the epigraphs got across the epic fantasy vibe! My previous story is actually set in the same universe as this, so you've already gotten a bigger snippet of my fantasy world than most people ;) I took your advice and split that paragraph into two sentences, hoping it reads better now. The paranthetical stuff is my signature at this point, don't think I'll be dropping the habit anytime soon ;)

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Claire Lewis
18:54 Jun 20, 2021

Rayhan, this is absolutely entrancing! I’m so impressed at how you can take such heartbreaking stories and make them so warm. Your characters are vibrant and powerful even in this impossible situation. Fabulous work!

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Rayhan Hidayat
08:30 Jun 21, 2021

I'll take entrancing, thanks Claire! I actually consider this story to be the epic fantasy version of "a sky filled with freckles." Psst... er, do you mind sitting out on the contest this week? Just to give the rest of us a chance? xD I'm just kidding, always keeping my eyes peeled for your next piece!

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Claire Lewis
14:05 Jun 21, 2021

I did notice some parallels! I love that changing the genre created such a different tone in this piece And you might get your wish haha… I’m a bit low on inspiration lately so we’ll see what happens

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Rayhan Hidayat
21:08 Jun 22, 2021

yep, it went from bittersweet to straight-up bitter... if you need to recharge, go for it! so you can come back guns blazing ;)

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Deidra Lovegren
17:43 Jun 20, 2021

Could there be anymore wisdom packed into this gem? This was mesmerizingly good. The parenthetical remarks worked very well. Definitely dedicated to all hopeful romantics (not hopeless ones...) --- Going out to get these tattoos: "That same fish can pine for wings all it wants, but it will never be a bird." "It is almost as if the universe is punishing them for existing.”

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Rayhan Hidayat
08:27 Jun 21, 2021

Thanks Deidra! Haha definitely, especially if you like your romances with a side of political unrest and mercy killings. I'm very flattered, tell me how those tattoos go ;)

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Michelle Gregory
20:05 Aug 11, 2021

Epic.

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Rayhan Hidayat
15:31 Aug 12, 2021

Thanks!

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Yolanda Wu
23:09 Jul 25, 2021

What an absolutely enchanting story that I'm so angry I didn't read earlier. Give. Me. The. Badass. Lesbians. But also the fucking tears. The way you broke up the story, with the present being Talia searching in the battlefield for Miriam's body, and cutting back to the past of their relationship. The worldbuilding was just right - not too overwhelming for a short story, but still felt so rich and well-developed. I especially liked the quotes from the different figures in this world, and the little sentences in brackets. I especially liked t...

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Rayhan Hidayat
01:43 Jul 26, 2021

Oh thank you for keeping your promise and getting here! Your comment makes me feel all giddy as always haha. And of course, there are more badass lesbians to come, I’m just waiting til I’m less busy and the right prompts to come up! Oh I can’t wait! Please tell me it’s another one of your signature fantasy tales!

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Yolanda Wu
02:50 Jul 26, 2021

It is! It's kind of a companion story to Borne From Blood, following Ruilan's sister (you don't need to actually remember anything from that story). I'll be waiting for more badass lesbians! But take your time, lol. Every week I've been wanting to post, but then none of the prompts matched the story I wanted to write. Thank goodness this week there was one.

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Rayhan Hidayat
22:19 Jul 26, 2021

Eyes peeled for that!

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Hoor Amin
11:14 Jul 16, 2021

This. Is. Wow. Like seriously!

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Rayhan Hidayat
13:28 Jul 16, 2021

Thank you!! 😙

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Hoor Amin
20:09 Jul 16, 2021

You're welcome!

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Elizabeth Inkim
02:41 Jul 12, 2021

Hi Rayhan! I am here; I finally made it! You wouldn't believe the metaphorical hill I had to climb to ber here. First, I busy at my new job, and then the WiFi went for like a week; it was madness, but I am so happy that I finally read it. Love the lens through which this story was told, the action and setting very well balanced, might I add. I fell in love with Thalia as a character; she was written very well. The only thing that really snagged my reader experience was the literal formatting of the story, all the double spacing and parenth...

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Rayhan Hidayat
03:15 Jul 12, 2021

You took so long that I managed to win in the time it took for you to get here! 😂 Jk jk, don’t sweat it, I’ve also been busy trying to find a job actually. Thanks so much for the thoughtful feedback. And don’t worry, you’re not the first person to make a complaint about the parantheses and weird formatting 😜 I guess it’s just a style of writing I do every now and then, and I completely get where you’re coming from. Italics might actually look better.

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Elizabeth Inkim
03:23 Jul 12, 2021

OMG, don't even get me started! The WiFi company kept not showing up and was like, "we'll come tomorrow," anyway, four days in, they finally came! Also, I am just working two internships and my own freelance, so I am trying to find a new balance in my life. I am a graphic designer, and sometimes I wonder if I am crazy when I think about writing stories and dreaming of writing a series when during the day I am designing logos and making visual identities. What drew you to write this? You don't have to share if you don't want.

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Rachel Smith
22:56 Jul 11, 2021

Love the epigraphs, adds to the worldbuilding iceberg well (an iceberg which I feel must actually exist as the world feels so real). 👍 Another fab story.

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Rayhan Hidayat
03:30 Jul 12, 2021

Thanks Rachel! I think this story I’m probably most proud of, and those epigraphs were fun to play around with 🙂

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Natania Kurien
12:12 Jul 11, 2021

This is so so good! I love how the title comes in and the descriptions and lines and everything are so so beautiful. There's a poetic quality to your writing that makes everything flow so well and weaves together the story so brilliantly. I think you did an amazing job at building this world and I would read a whole novel set in it. The way you break up the scenes with the extremely fitting quotes shows how much thought went into crafting this story. I love the relationship between Talia and Miriam and the imagery throughout is great. And I ...

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Rayhan Hidayat
15:26 Jul 11, 2021

Hello again! I’m so so glad you stopped by at this story, since it’s arguably the one I’m most proud of (even moreso than my winning story!). I am working on a fantasy series and stories like this are a way for me to get reader feedback and simultaneously brainstorm the lore and characters. And yes, General Noel is really just a softie on the inside 😉

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Natania Kurien
07:38 Jul 12, 2021

It definitely is a work to be proud of! Looking forward to the series!

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Breanna Barber
17:02 Jul 10, 2021

"A sapling sprouting triumphantly out of the dirt, only to be transformed into a siege weapon for the enemy to burn back to the ground. A salmon dodging hungry talons on her way upstream, only to die on the very riverbed she’d hatched on." This stuck out to me the most. . . It's so bittersweet. This whole story is so bittersweet. You're a fantastic writer. :)

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Rayhan Hidayat
17:07 Jul 10, 2021

You're awesome for checking out this story, it's arguably the work I'm most proud of. Thanks so much Breanna! :)

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Breanna Barber
17:11 Jul 10, 2021

You're welcome Rayhan :)

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Ana Govindasamy
02:59 Jul 01, 2021

Woah. Ok. First, beautiful world building, the quotes absolutely tied it together. Secondly, Talia and Miriam’s relationship was so so bittersweet and I absolutely adored it. I think I cried...I mean my heart has sunk a good couple times, but a Reedsy story has never been able to make me cry. The descriptions were wildly vivid (not sure if that’s a good thing or not...human viscera at least...) and the metaphorical were absolutely beautiful. An amazing story, Ray. Well done.

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Rayhan Hidayat
16:32 Jul 01, 2021

Haha thanks Ana! :D

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Ana Govindasamy
17:02 Jul 01, 2021

No problem!

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09:55 Jun 27, 2021

I like the similarities to ASFWF! Those wise quotes were the perfect little addition, and I am not ashamed to admit that I read them multiple twice, just to soak it all in. Miriam and Talia are some of those characters you get invested in in such a short amount of time. Their conversations were one of my favorite things about this story. (Besides the superb descriptions, of course. They're something else.) Like many others, I agree that this definitely deserves its own novel—the world-building is also, frankly, something else. I can't say ...

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Rayhan Hidayat
22:48 Jun 27, 2021

I was racking my brain for what ASFWF stands for until I realized you're talking about my own damn story xD You're very right, I consider Talia x Miriam to be the tragic equivalent of Fae x Vivienne. The quotes were fun to play around with, so I'm thrilled you enjoyed them! Thank you so much, your support means the world to me :)

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07:44 Jun 28, 2021

Haha, you're welcome! I'm glad you feel that way.

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Hend Nasser
16:55 Jun 26, 2021

read the first few lines and immediately scrolled down to like. lol. your writing style is truly entrancing.

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Rayhan Hidayat
21:50 Jun 26, 2021

You flatter me! Thank you so much 😙

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Lynn Penny
14:46 Jun 26, 2021

I love the spacing choice here, it fit perfectly with the snippets of quotes and the poetic nature of the story. "Bodies that Talia had danced with to the tune of swordplay not an hour ago, steel kissing steel, until hers had tasted flesh and relished it." this has to be my favorite line. Amazing work!

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Rayhan Hidayat
21:49 Jun 26, 2021

Thank you as always, I love that line as well! 😙

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Ash Jarvis
14:59 Jun 25, 2021

Okay, fine, you made me cry and I almost NEVER cry. Happy?! The images of fish and swords and blood that you carry all the way through work beautifully (I especially liked that Miriam is a fisherman’s daughter) and make what is actually a short story feel like a novella. So much good stuff here! I reeeeeeally hope Reedsy will put aside its anti-genre bias this week, because this deserves a win!

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Rayhan Hidayat
15:53 Jun 25, 2021

Thank you for being the first to admit you cried 😂 Good eye, if there’s any mention of fish, even little things like her being a fisherman’s daughter, it was completely intentional! Ash you flatter me! Appreciate you stopping by as always 😙

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Christina Marie
17:33 Jun 24, 2021

Wow Rayhan - great job! I was intimidated by the length but it was so well-done that it didn't matter. Love the little snippets of wisdom and quotes you've scattered throughout. I noticed some sentence fragments but I think stylistically most of them work. Very well thought out and executed. Thanks for sharing!

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Rayhan Hidayat
18:06 Jun 24, 2021

Thank you for commenting Christina! I think the fragmented sentences is something I’ve been doing for a while now, and I don’t think I can stop even if I tried 😅

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