The Mirror Realms- Chapter 4: A Little Ocean [EDITED]

  • Hey guys! We're back with the finally edited Chapter 4. If you DO read this thing (and we're glad you do), could you please leave us a bit of feedback in the comments? We WANT to do better and we want to know what you think, so if you have 5 minutes throw us a bone or two and tell us what you like, what you didn't like, suggestions... where is it too slow? Where do things not make sense? What parts made you squeal like you're a five year old on Christmas morning? Are things realistic/believable? What do you think is going to happen next? I could go on and on and on, but please let us know!

    Chapter 4: A Little Ocean

    At her mother's mention of the shackles and collar, Sabine gestured to his ankles. "-they're enchanted. They burned the hell out of his ankles-there's no telling how bad his wrists and neck are. I only barely got the ones on his ankles off by overloading them with magic...and I think I made the burns worse doing that."

    Giselle tutted. "Well, here in town we may have more resources at our disposal."

    Mark came back inside, having left to make the call, and put his mirror in his pocket. He looked mildly unhappy but placated. He says he can stay at least long enough for you to heal him, and then he'll need to report in to the Council. If they like what he has to say they'll decide how to deal with him. But for now...they're posting guards outside and trusting me to keep him from doing anything immeasurably stupid."

    His eyes focused on Caine in that moment. There was a hint of a deep blue flame in his irises. "That means be on your best behavior, or information or not, I'll personally deliver you to the council in worse shape than you are now."

    Sabine looked indignant. "Daddy! He's injured-"

    Mark didn't seem phased. "All the more reason for him to behave himself. I don't relish beating the weak, but I will take it personally if he acts up while I'm his keeper."

    The word "keeper" made what remained of Caine's admittedly defensive personality want to snip at it but his overpowering sense of self-preservation won out by a landslide. It made him feel like a pet, but as long as he was alive a pet he could deal with being.

    "I won't cause you any more trouble than I already have..." he replied, resisting the urge to duck his head under the piercing stare of Mark Dubois. Caine was anything other than a dumb man, young and sluggish given his lack of energy perhaps but a far cry from dull. Thus the current course of events told him to make himself as marketable as he could manage without pissing off his benefactors.

    He'd decided he'd give that idea more thought once he felt less like he was dying. What was this about a council anyway? Or this Morgan person that was so important, actually he had a lot of questions now that he considered it. He spoke up again after a moment, looking a bit more hopeful. If it was fake, it was faked extremely well. "...What was that you said about getting these off?" He asked meekly while one of his hands navigated to the collar firmly clamped around his neck.

    Giselle beamed. "I was only wondering what kind of spell it was. Sabine's aura seems rather depleted, despite the fact my daughter usually has an embarrassment of magic most times. I'm assuming she used a major portion of her magic just to overload the ankle cuffs, so that means she's too tired to force the others off. If the spell is rather simple, I may be able to undo it myself. If not, we may need someone more well-versed in magic..."

    Giselle gestured to him slowly, hesitating to move forwards. "May I take a look?"

    Now that he knew they likely weren't going to throw him out at a moment's notice he felt more at ease with at least Giselle -her daughter had already won him over hours ago- especially since she apparently knew his mother at some point in the past.

    "By all means, please..." he replied, putting his hands back in his lap. As long as she didn't snatch at him he was golden.

    Giselle moved a chair over in front of his and sat, moving her hands over to take his in them. She studied the shackles, touching them and trying to read the old runes. They didn't even stutter.

    Sabine frowned and came over. "That's weird-they glowed when I touched them-" She moved her hand out and as her finger touched the iron, the shackle's engravings lit up. She winced like it stung and pulled her hand back. The light died again.

    "Why did it-?" She seemed confused but Mark tapped her on her shoulder.

    "Don't think this gets you out of trouble, but go get the guest room set up. He'll need somewhere to sleep."

    She nodded meekly. She knew she was probably going to get the scolding of her life when things calmed down, but until then she'd behave herself as best as she could to hopefully ease its impact some.

    Her parents exchanged a glance as she scurried off.

    "-better call your apprentice." Quipped Mark.

    Giselle gave a little laugh. "Former apprentice, Mark. He hasn't been an apprentice for at least a decade or two now. He's a better mage than I ever was, now."

    "Better at different things, maybe. He'll still never be a healer and his seals are sub-par compared to yours."

    "We all excel at different things, Mark. Jude just happened to branch off from sealing magic into the more arcane and rare studies. We give the kids so short a time to figure out what they want to do with their lives, it's not uncommon to change your career and profession halfway through life. I would know-from ambassador to warrior, to healer now."

    "Besides," she looked to Caine who had hardly been paying attention, "His career change may prove useful here and now...if you'll excuse me, I need to make a call. I don't think-just from looking at how the magic reacted to me-that I'll be able to work with this spell or undo it. I'll need to bring in a friend."

    She stood and turned to her husband. "Please be nice to our guest. He's Serafina's child."

    He nodded, "I know how close you and Serafina were. I won't be rude."

    "-I'm less worried about rude and more about you frightening the poor boy. He's been through too much already."

    Mark considered Caine as his wife breezed out of the front door to make her call. "-I'll say this much, since my wife seems to like you, and I know Serafina was a good woman. I acted the way I did earlier to protect my family. Normally, even a peaceful demon would be thrown out of town. We've had too many issues in the past when we didn't keep them out. You're a special case, being the former prince and having knowledge that might prove useful."

    The imposing man leaned against one of the chairs. "Still, that doesn't mean you'll be allowed to stay here forever. Whatever happens after you're healed and fill them in is up to the Council. Morgan and Allorah are fair people, on average, but some of the council members don't care for demons, for good reason. Best case scenario you get released fully healed with your life outside of town, our sincere thanks and a warning not to come back. It's nothing personal-it's simply how things are right now in town. Please don't get your hopes up and please don't get attached to anyone...I'm only telling you as a forewarning."

    Caine surprisingly didn't look all too put down by it, He still sat, sort of half slumped to keep the pressure of the wood off his back and simply nodded. "I thought I was doing something..."

    Caine shook his head, not looking at Mark as he tried to find the right words. "Something useful for once... And my only regret from all of it was that I had done all of this and it barely made any difference..."He still seemed to have some tiny amount of fight left in him. Some iota of pride, not in himself but something else, even bloodied and bruised sitting in a stranger's kitchen.

    "If I die, then I die. I accepted that when I did it." he explained, his shoulders relaxing as he said it, half to himself. Death sobered even the most courageous warrior but that after awhile it had become more like a subtle reminder than a looming threat. "But if I manage to tell someone, you-your...council, whoever will listen...what I know first then at least then I'll have my original goal accomplished. Given my circumstances, I suppose that's the best I could really hope for. I wouldn't put such a burden on your town..." He trailed off and his voice went quiet. "I dug my own grave a year ago, not your family's. Not your town's."

    Mark's expression didn't change, unflinching as he seemed to be always, but the flames in his eyes died down until they were the simple, pale, almost-white blue, just like his daughter's. "An outlook like that in such a young man is fairly unnerving, you know."

    Sabine popped back out from the hall, looking timid but optimistic. "Uh-the guest room is ready, Dad."

    Mark nodded again "Good. Go fix a pot of tea. Sir Lucas will be coming over to help get these things off, and if we're having guests we may as well have tea."

    Sabine nodded jerkily and moved to the stove, setting up her kettle.

    Giselle came in moments later. "Jude says he's going to grab some notes and portal right over. He'll be here momentarily-ah, good, the tea's started."

    She moved back over to sit by Caine, studying his wounds more closely now. "-once we get you out of these, we'll have to see about treating these wounds, and then getting some food into you...have you had human food, much?"

    He shook his head, looking rather despondent as he'd just been contemplating his coming future. "No..." He answered, startling when she realized she was more trying to make conversation than just a question.

    He continued after the delay. "Sweets here and there, I believe, but most things don't travel well between the rifts so it's hit and miss.." He continued, flinching at the painful pulling feeling around his neck. If he hadn't been a prince he wouldn't have had any of it before, in fact, if he wasn't a prince he'd have been dead by now either by his prison stay or the looming angel still a few feet off but at least looking more at ease. He gave a half smile, he was hardly one to be picky about anything.

    Sabine looked over from the oven curiously. "-just sweets? Well, you got the best parts, then!"

    Giselle actually laughed at her daughter. "-don't even try to act like you don't enjoy every other part of meals. I haven't sat at this table and watched you vacuum everything down every day these past seventeen years to be lied to."

    "Well geez, mom, I didn't say it was the only good part. Just the best."

    There was a knock, and Mark waved his wife to stay sitting, moving over to answer it. Seconds later he came back, leading a sleepy-looking man in some purple robes.

    His eyes went a little wider and more alert upon seeing Caine, however, brighter with interest. "When you called me over, Master, I didn't expect this."

    Giselle smiled and shrugged. "I didn't expect it, either, but then life throws all sorts of surprises our way lately, doesn't it?" She nodded to Caine. "Caine,this is Sir Lucas. He may be able to help us get your cuffs off. Jude, this is Caine. He's a...son of one of my old friends."

    Lucas looked to her knowingly. "Leros horns. King Majin and Queen Serafina's child? But why is he in such a state, and why is he here?"

    Mark shook his head. "We're figuring that out still. At the moment, if you would, do you think you could manage the spell on these shackles and that collar? It's something neither I nor Giselle have seen before. It won't react to us."

    Lucas seemed to know his question had been avoided but didn't press, moving over by Giselle, who went to move but he shook his head and knelt in front of Caine. He seemed to be quietly considering the situation. "Hands, please?" He asked politely enough, one hand out waiting. "Oh, and nice to meet you, by the way. Almost forgot."

    Caine laughed, the first time they'd heard such a noise out of him.

    "-hello, Sir Lucas!" Came Sabine's lilting voice from the opening of the kitchen.

    "Ah, hello, Sabine, long time no see." He was studying the shackles carefully, and he muttered some incantation that Sabine didn't understand under his breath.

    "-pokazjite mne svo svet-"

    The spell made the runes glow even though they'd remained dead when he'd touched the metal as well. Giselle gave a soft gasp. Caine translated it in his head and was smiling at the thought, he missed magic, his favorite subject.

    "-that rhythm....Jude, when did you learn Venetic?" Giselle asked from the sidelines.

    Sir Lucas looked up and offered a sheepish smile. "Oh, I'm not fluent. I was simply lucky enough to come up with some scrolls and such...let's say it was a pain to learn but it has come in handy."

    "Hard to teach yourself a language you've never known." Mark observed, eyebrows raised.

    "-I may have had some help. A friend. Nothing important." He studied the runes more, turning Caine's hands over to the other side. "-anyways, this spell is quite a simple one in theory but more complex to break. It sucks off the energy of the wearer to feed its own magic, and burns them at any attempt at escape. The catch is, only demonic spells will undo it. If I had demonic magic myself I could conceivably just undo the spell, but as is I'll have to unweave the spell and be careful not to set it off. We're lucky it doesn't have a security backup for unwanted removal."

    Sabine frowned as she brought over the tea for them. "I actually forced the ones on his ankles open. Took most of my magic but it worked."

    Lucas looked astonished for a minute, then schooled his face with a smile. "Of course you did, you're always surprising me. How is it you have so much magic and aren't even the least bit interested in becoming a mage? You'd probably even surpass me, and even the best of us, with time and a little effort." he stood as she passed by and ruffled her hair affectionately. She ducked her head and grinned.

    Giselle looked amused. "Jude, that would require her to sit still long enough to actually study. She'd have to focus on one thing longer than a few minutes that wasn't active, and you know how she gets. It's wasted potential, probably, but there's not much we can do."

    Sabine pretended not to hear her mother, moving over to Caine. "-K-" She caught herself. "-Caine, how do you like your tea? You guys do have tea there, right?"

    Caine loved tea, actually. "I loved tea actually, although I haven't had it from here." he replied, it was a detail about his life before he'd completely forgotten about until she mentioned it.. He shook his head and politely passed on her offer for the moment. However much he'd like to try it, it would have to be later, his nerves weren't tolerating anything right now. Maybe once the shackles were off, he told himself.

    "Well, Jude? Do I need to grab the fire extinguisher this time, or-?" Mark asked, considering the younger man.

    "That was nearly fifteen years ago, it's really not necessary, now." Lucas quipped back, a ribbon of pink across his cheeks as his fingers began to glow. "-it'll be quite unimpressive looking, really."

    He tapped his index finger to the metal and drew out a glowing purple thread. "-there're a few loose "threads" in the spell's weave. I can find them and use them to undo the whole thing without having to be a demon or having one to assist. If I do it right it may even break the shackles. If it works, I can do the same with the collar, as well."

    The collar had been on him the longest and Caine loathed its existence with every breath he took, Lucas carefully drew another string of magic from it as well. Caine set his hands on his knees to give his arms a break and Sir Lucas a more stable space to work, watching the mage work was fascinating.

    Sabine sat at the other side of Caine on the table opposite her mother as Lucas worked, tugging and finding more purple threads and unraveling invisible seams in the shackles, soon each finger on one hand had a glowing purple thread attached to it, Caine was beginning to look like a glowing marionette.

    Jude took a moment to mutter another incantation too low for Sabine or even Giselle's ears, one Mark strained to try and hear.

    "Raseite etu energyu. Ne daye yemu ubezhicha, chtoby sprata'sya!"

    After it was finished, he jerked his hands back rather suddenly-causing the enraptured viewers to startle some as suddenly the threads snapped, and the shackles burst open, sliding from Caine's wrists to his lap, then clattering to the floor and making him jump. The collar stayed stubbornly where it was, however. He turned paled even more so than usual at the sight of his wrists and his mouth tasted like salt.

    Caine stared down at his wrists and the chains below them near his feet, looking more concerned by the second. They were worse than his ankles, the roughly two to three inch circle around his wrists covered in angry pink and red skin, the edges of it had scabbed over in hard, black scabs and the middle looked partially charred. He almost gagged, he never expected to see them off of his body and the damage made him wonder if his family would feel all so self righteous if they could see it.

    He flexed his fingers slowly, not paying any attention to the people around him so much as staving off voices in his head that told him to look away even though he couldn't drag his gaze away from the red ruin that used to be his wrists.

    There was a moment of stunned silence before Jude muttered something to himself, "as I thought, if the energy was dispersed before I unwove it, it wouldn't explode and harm him. That is strange though..."

    Sabine looked a little green, growing worried.

    "-are you saying you weren't sure it wouldn't explode?"

    "-I was ninety-nine percent sure."

    Giselle drew in a sharp breath, leaning across the table to see his wrists as well, the boy frozen.

    "-that's going to take more than just a few ointments and a bit of healing'll be incredibly lucky if you have anywhere near the same level of flexibility in your wrists at all after this..." Her voice was vaguely mortified, she couldn't believe his own father had let this happen to him.

    Sabine noticed him zoning out.

    "-Caine?" She moved very slowly out of her chair to kneel by his side, ignoring Lucas, who had paused to evaluate the situation. "Hey, you there?" She asked. She knew that far-off look. She'd had it before, although it had been forever since then and it had been for vastly different reasons.

    Mark watched his daughter, and the body language of the demon in that moment made him nervous to see her so close. He shifted again but stayed in place, not wanting to set off anything that hadn't already been set in motion.

    Caine made something close to a half-choking noise that verged on a horrified sob and came back to reality after a long moment, eventually looking up to see everyone staring at him. He promptly looked back down at his lap, taking another moment to shake off the haze that seemed to fall over him and keep the emotions at bay. "I'm fine..." was all he said, curling his fingers into fists and turning them over on his knees so that his palms were down instead. "I'm fine," he repeated, this time with forced conviction.

    He swallowed his lingering want something, he wasn't even sure if it was to punch the living hell out of his former family members or to cry into a pillow until he didn't feel like it anymore but it was something. Something that he shoved far, far away into a corner of his mind to deal with at another time. The pile was growing, he knew, and he ignored that too.

    At first, Sabine thought the spell had failed partly, because the collar still sat on his neck, heavy and ugly. However, after a few more seconds, cracks appeared, and spidered out towards the edge.

    After another second, the collar shattered into pieces and tumbled to the ground, collecting on the tile and some on the hem of Sir Lucas's robes. Caine yelped again, this time higher and much more panicked. He stayed stock still, however, sitting straight back in the chair, his eyes wide and verging on terrified as waves of sharp pain radiated from his neck like a pebble tossed into a pool.

    The sound Sabine made upon seeing his neck was tiny, pained, and almost strangled.

    He didn't want to know what it looked like, he couldn't have stomached it he was sure.

    If his wrists and ankles were a wreck, his neck was something indescribable. If the burns had gone much further down he surely wouldn't have been able to breathe. layers of half-healed scar tissue lined the edge where the collar had sat, making the outline of his neck look raised at the edges then gouged in the middle where it had hardened into black lines of dead skin. Sabine felt sick looking at it.

    His hands, still balled into fists in his lap, were white at the knuckles and his heart thudded in his chest. He finally let out the breath he'd been holding, bringing his arms closer to his chest while the residual heat slowly dissipated. He could only imagine what it looked like and he didn't want to. "I...I.." he tried to say and instead just stopped, shaking his head again. "I don't want to know." he almost whispered, picking up one of the shards of metal in his fingers to distract himself. He didn't.

    Sabine cursed herself for letting the sound out, She wasn't helping. She tried again. "It's not unfixable. Garish, sure, but I've seen Mom fix worse."

    Giselle seemed to agree with that. "I can't promise you won't have scars, but I can fix them."

    Lucas stood and dusted off his knees, not commenting on the wounds. "Did you need my assistance for anything else, M-Giselle?"

    "Not that I can call to mind, Jude. Thank you so much for coming to help-I don't know what we'd have done without you."

    "It was nothing. No trouble to help out my former master. I wish you the best of luck....and the same to you, Prince." He patted Sabine on the head as he passed her by, distracting her some from her inner dialogue long enough to allow her to send him a half-smile.

    He gave them all a short bow and Mark showed him out.

    When it was just the three of them in the room, Giselle sighed. "We're going to have to get you clean and fix you up. Alright, Sabine-go upstairs and start the bath and get my supplies."

    "-kay, Mom." She looked over to Caine. "It'll be okay, alright? I'm here and I swear I won't let any more bad things happen to you....not if I can't do anything to stop them."

    As she disappeared Giselle made a humming sound in her throat-half amused, half worried. "Ah, she means it. I just hope things turn out well...she'll likely cause more trouble if they don't have a kind outlook later..."

    Caine's thoughts had wandered back to what Mark said about the best case scenario and his heart sunk further than a shipwreck in the deep ocean. So he now got to be a marred outcast and he would have to break Sabine's spirit when he eventually had to leave her.

    She stood up without elaborating or continuing and offered him a hand and a smile. "-I can help you up the stairs, dear. You really don't need to be putting too much weight on your ankles right now."

    Sabine had drawn the bathwater and was arranging supplies on the bathroom counter by the time Giselle had awkwardly helped the taller young man up the stairs. She looked up and offered a bright smile. "I already put the herbs in. I'll be helping mom, but the water's pretty opalescent now that all the stuff is really settling in, so once you're in it'll be pretty cloudy. I'll go get a change of dad's old clothes and see if they might not fit on you long enough til we can get you something else to wear besides those rags."

    She nodded to her mom and cruised out past them in the doorway.

    Caine froze in the doorway, his hand on the wooden surface as he realized something too little and too late. His nails dug into the wood a little bit as he thought about. Water. He could already almost feel Ravian's fingers digging into his hair, right between his horns where he had no hope of reaching them, especially with the chains tied together in front of him. The burn of frigid water in his eyes and nose while he'd gasped for air. Granted, it was the slightly stagnant air of that cave and not the heavy, herbal scented air that now wafted from the bathroom door.

    "I don't know if I can do it." said the outspoken part of his self-preservation that precariously sat on a line between dramatic want of outburst and cowering.

    "You have to." replied his remaining rationality.

    "You'll die of an infection or something worse if you don't get in that tub. Ravian be damned, he's not going to kill you so easily. Not now." He had to admit, that side had a point. He noticed the two women staring at him again, Sabine's mother growing more concerned but calmly organizing medicines and salves in their almost cute wicker basket.

    He nodded finally.

    "...I think I need a minute." He half whispered. He was pretty sure he could get all of the clothing off himself. It was getting himself in the tub that would be the mental challenge.

    "To think, the great Crown Prince of Haelia cowering at the thought of an overgrown puddle." He thought, willing himself to actually go into the cozy room, the tiles chilled the bottoms of his feet and brought a little reality back to him.

    "But the likelihood of one of those reasons being the chance of being waterboarded is slim, Caine." That still didn't mean he wanted to drown in the ocean anymore so than he did a tub either.

    "Doesn't mean you couldn't"

    "Play semantics all you like, you're getting in that tub." Rationality booked no argument this time, apparently fed up with being ignored.

    Giselle seemed to notice his fear, but quietly stepped back to the doorway. "Let me know when you're in, or if you need anything. Take your time."

    She shut the door behind her, leaving the distraught demon to himself.

  • @Blackbird and @typical_demigod This is up now, if you'd like to continue the trend. We really want some feedback if either of you guys have time to toss us some!

  • As usual, I really, really, like this. So let's see if I can answer some of your questions in this heavily medicated state I'm in. :P

    Everything is very realistic and believable. The magic itself seems both well-developed and simple which is a blessing. One great issue I take with magic is when I'm given a textbook's worth of technical speech so that maybe I can understand it (one of my biggest RP pet peeves as well)

    In terms of criticism, what I can say I wasn't too thrilled with is the section of Giselle and Mark discussing Jude. It feels too "let's mention these things we both clearly already knew about this person for the reader's sake" and I found it a bit disruptive. You already mention he's a temple mage and Giselle's former apprentice once he's introduced anyway. So there's really no need for it.

    Another thing, guys, and this is kind of important.... You shouldn't start a new paragraph of dialogue if it's still the same character speaking. It gets pretty confusing. If you find the dialogue is too long, break it up with body language, make the character inspect a really fascinating pebble, something like that, and then continue the dialogue still in the same paragraph.

    New speaker, new paragraph is a widely known rule in writing. So even if you have dialogue markers indicating the speaker, it's automatic to assume that if there's a new paragraph, it's a different person talking. The section with Caine talking to Mark, while still very enjoyable, confused me because his dialogue is split into several paragraphs and I had to stop and confirm to myself it was still just Caine speaking. It breaks immersion if you're making me do that.

    Lastly. I know this was initially RP and it definitely reads like it (at least it does to me). That said, the only moment where it actually bugged me was when the shackles and collar were coming off, because we're given pretty much the entire scene and everyone's reactions and then Caine's reaction. It feels a bit like he's sitting there waiting to react and he's not quite the focus of the scene because of that.

    With all that said... I love all of these characters. They have very distinct personalities and are a joy to read. I feel a lot for Caine, especially at the end, with the tub... That... Ugh, man. :/

    Your descriptions of Caine's injuries were really good. Likewise for the whole process of undoing the shackles. You create good visuals and I think that's lovely.

    So. Then. That's my feedback. I hope it's helpful. And I think I covered everything I felt needed to be addressed. Hope it all makes sense too. I am very high on allergy medication right now, but I didn't want to wait. :)

  • @blackbird thank you! I'll go fix things. This chapter in particular was one that we struggled a lot with and had to be rewritten like 3 gd times to make it sound decent. It was originally longer and we had to chop some pieces and put the remaining together then hope it was cohesive. It's a rough patch so I for one needed help with it!

  • Yay it's a chapter! lol

    I second everything @Blackbird said. This is especially with the way the dialogue was formatted. It was very confusing.

    Also, POV. I think you were trying to focus on Caine's POV, but he wasn't a strong presence throughout the entire scene. He sort of drifted in and out of having a strong focus. Generally, I'm fine with not having that tight POV, but even when we weren't focusing on Caine, I didn't feel a strong presence of a different POV.

    As for things that I loved, I loved that you were able to introduce Jude and establish the kinds of relationships he had with the Dubois family with what felt like zero effort. Also, the bath scene. I feel for him. :|

  • I fixed the formatting issues and dialogue. Let me know if this is any better.

  • It was so much easier to read this time around with the dialogue fixed. There were a few spots where the dialogue of a character is started on one line and then ended on another, but the dialogue tags keep from me having to think twice about who is saying what. I know sometimes there are reasons for splitting a dialogue into two parts (for example, if the topic of the speaker changes), but a lot of the time the split looked like this:

    Caine surprisingly didn't look all too put down by it, He still sat, sort of half slumped to keep the pressure of the wood off his back and simply nodded. "I thought I was doing something..."
    Caine shook his head, not looking at Mark as he tried to find the right words. "Something useful for once... And my only regret from all of it was that I had done all of this and it barely made any difference..."He still seemed to have some tiny amount of fight left in him. Some iota of pride, not in himself but something else, even bloodied and bruised sitting in a stranger's kitchen.

    where, imo, it should've been all in the same paragraph.

    Is part of it that your worried that you'll have too many large paragraphs? It seems like a lot of the places where the speaker's dialogue is being broken into multiple paragraphs, is also areas where the paragraph would be large if it was kept in the same paragraph instead of being broken up.

    There was also a spot or two where you repeat something unnecessarily. The one that caught my eye when I was rereading was

    Caine loved tea, actually. "I loved tea actually,

    It would probably be better to just have Caine state that he loved tea, rather than doing it twice.

    ANYWAY. Love the changes. I also noticed that you focused reactions around him first and then the others, and I appreciated that. It made the scene feel more grounded.

  • @typical_demigod This chapter is a trainwreck lmao. Also, I fixed the issues you pointed out in the real version.

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