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Conquest of Shadows Chapter 18

by FlamingPhoenix


This was a bad idea…a very bad idea. Why did he let them talk him into it? It was suicide.

Cold coils of winter chill ran down Richard’s back spines as he remained in place. His talons in a tight vice-like grip on the rocks below him as he gazed down. A single stone lost its grip on the rock-face tumbling down towards the ground below, chipping away at other rocks as it fell. As the stone broke through the orange foliage a few shapes burst through the leaves, their wings spread as they took to the sky.

Watching the dark silhouettes fly off into the distance Richard heaved a long sigh. His wings shook when he peered down again. From where he stood it was a good few feet from the ground. The fall would either be lethal or break a good few bones. Neither of those sounded good.

He had no idea why he was going to put himself through this. ‘Why do I get myself into these kinds of situations?’ Richard thought to himself, turning his head to peer over his shoulder at the two people who stood behind him.

Mikel gave him a thumbs-up as he grinned from ear to ear, his gaze hopeful.

Standing next to Mikel was Vanessa. She gave Richard a small grin with the faint nod of her head as she waited for him to take the leap of faith.

Looking away, Richard grimaced as he stared out over the kingdom. The glassy reflection of the ocean in the distance a calm still slate of color, like the sky above.

Vigorously shaking his head Richard backed away from the edge. “Ah, maybe we can do a few practice rounds? You know a small bolder or something for me to get the hang of well my two extra limps.” Richard glanced over his shoulder a sheepish grin coming onto his face as he ruffled his wings.

“Why?” Mikel asked walking up to him. He peered over the edge then back to Richard. “It’s not that high. You’ll be fine.”

Snorting, Richard growled, “Speak for yourself, you're not the one having to jump off the edge and just hope you can fly. It doesn’t work that way you know.”

“Pfft, sure it does, how do you think birds learn to fly once jumping out the nest?” Mikel argued, leaning against Richard’s back leg his arms crossed.

Glaring down at Mikel Richard moved away from the boy. Off-balance Mikel fell to the ground now his support had been removed from behind him. Bending his neck down Richard looked him in the eye. “Birds at least know how to use their wings before they leave the nest, all they have to do once they jump is remain airborne.”

Picking himself up from the ground Mikel scowled back at Richard. “Oh, for King Author's sake just jump!” Mikel put his entire body's weight into Richard’s back leg as he tried to push him towards the edge.

Lifting his leg Richard watched Mikel topple over into the dirt for the second time that day. “Forget it. I’m not doing anything of the sort.”

Walking over to Mikel Vanessa offered her hand to help him up. Gladding excepting her hand Mikel dusted himself off once back onto his feet. Sighing Vanessa crossed her arms. “I guess you could have a few test runs.” She faced Richard with an arched eyebrow. “But it’s not going to get you very far. You will at some point have to jump and learn the hard way, jumping from a small ledge or bolder isn’t going to do the trick.”

“That’s what I was trying to say!” Mikel jumped in, a scowl plastered onto his face.

Slowly turning her head in her brother’s direction Vanessa frowned at him. “Sure you were.” She drawled rolling her eyes. Turning back to Richard Vanessa pulled her coat's black hood over her head, her black curls trapped within its cloth. Circling her arms around her small frame Vanessa shivered as she rubbed her hands up and down her arms.

“I don’t see why you don’t have a few flaps here?” Mikel suggested his teeth chattering. “I mean it won’t make a difference if you find a small ledge or not.”

“Try lifting yourself into the air without a jumping start; it should help you get used to your wings faster,” Vanessa suggested pulling Mikle back by the arm to give Richard a little room.

Hesitant, Richard moved away from the ledge not wanting to fall to his death just yet. Having to focus his thoughts on the two extra limps attached to his back Richard extended them as far as they could go. His face screwed up in concentration Richard tried his best to beat them up and down in sync, he didn’t expect it to be so hard, it wasn’t anything like walking. If he lost focus the one wing would lose its rhythm with the other almost sending him spinning in a circle.

After a few attempts, Richard could feel it become a little easier to use his wings, but he still had trouble beating them at the same time. They were a lot larger than he would have expected, and it was hard to beat them, his webbing doing well to drag the air along with them. Stopping his rhythm he allowed the heavy extra appendages sink to his sides, just brushing the sand.

“That was a lot harder than I expected,” Richard growled, curling his tail around his talons as he sat down. Turning his head to look behind him he sighed as his eyes landed on the trees dotting the land. “I guess now there is only one other way to do it.”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine, we aren’t that high up.” Vanessa patted his shoulder gently.

Rubbing his hands together Mikel grinned, “Imagine all the cool things you will be able to do once you get the hang of it?” As he said that Mikel looked in the direction of the palace.

After sending Mikel a disapproving glare Vanessa turned her attention back to Richard who was now in position, his head dipped down to look at the steep slope down. “Try to clear your mind,” Vanessa advised. “Try and connect with your wings, and don’t overthink it.” She swatted his wing lightly.

A deep chuckle rolled out of Richard’s mouth as he turned his head to look back at her. “Easier said than done.” Grinning at her amused look Richard turned his attention back to the landscape below.

‘I can do this, there’s nothing much to it.’ Richard thought to himself digging his talons deeper into the ground. ‘All I have to do is jump off the edge…aaannnddd…fall to my death. Yup easy, nothing to worry about.’

Spreading his wings out to their full-length Richard heaved a long sigh; he couldn’t believe he was doing this. Sucking in a deep breath he allowed himself to feel the world around him, his wing webbings slight flutter to the wind's soft and enchanting dance. The smell of flowers closing for the night rushing through his senses.

Loosening his grip on the rocks below Richard looked down one last time before flapping his wings hoisting himself into the air. He winced when he felt the tip on his tail thwack against the rocks as he dove downward.

Free-falling through the air Richard enjoyed the new sensation, the cold rush of winter air flowing over his body as he allowed himself to gain speed. With his wings tucked in at his sides and tail behind him. Richard felt like an arrow that had just been released from the bowstring, it really was something else.

As the ground rushed up to meet him Richard’s eyes widened as he hurriedly flailed his wings around him trying to slow down the fall. Not able to sink his wing beats up with one another fast enough to stop the fall, Richard extended his talons plunging them into the rock's hard exteriors without a second thought. Gritting his teeth Richard dug his claws into the stone further as his speed began to slow.

Finally coming to a complete stop his talons still embedded in the stones Richard heaved out long deep breaths. “This was not a good idea.” He growled to himself as he removed one of his front talons pulling out clumps of gravel with them.

“Richard are you okay?” Came Vanessa’s worried voice from above.

Heaving one last sigh Richard began to climb up the cliff face towards the others his talons digging deep into the stones. Once he reached the top he flopped to the ground smoke coiling from his nostrils. “Don’t even ask.” He hissed when his eyes landed on Mikel who had a confused expression plastered on his face.

“You going to try again?” Vanessa asked wiping some dust off of his horns.

Jerking his head upwards to look at her, Richard glared. “No, I don’t think so. It’s a bad idea, I can’t do it.” He grumbled folding his tail around his back talons as he inverted his gaze. “What’s the point?”

“Richard Ashbrook, you are not giving up, there is a reason you are connected to that Gem and if you stop trying now…how are you going to avenge your parent’s deaths and save the Kingdom?” Vanessa scolded crossing her arms. “That has been your goal from the beginning, there are no shortcuts to gaining power, this included.” She pointed towards him then to the cliff. “That’s the point.”

Mumbling under his breath Richard got to his feet. “Fine, your right.” Frustrated he allowed a small flicker of flames to leave his mouth, but it was quickly put out by the cold.

Placing her hands on her hips Vanessa gave Richard a pleased look. “Good, now try again.” She ordered.

Shaking his head to remove the dizzy spell that came over him Richard swept his tail against the ground sweeping up clouds of dust. Heart beating against his ribs Richard ran for the end of the ledge, once his front talons met with the very edge he leaped into the air his wings fanning out around him.


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Thu Jun 10, 2021 4:30 am
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HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm baaack. Wooo, excited to read this one. Also so good to hear you managed to work your way through that writer's block. :D

First Impression: Okayy...this was pretty nicely done, I was so excited to get into this training chapter and I wasn't disappointed at all, it was definitely awesomely done here, and I loved it. :D

Anyway let's get right to it,

This was a bad idea…a very bad idea. Why did he let them talk him into it? It was suicide.

Cold coils of winter chill ran down Richard’s back spines as he remained in place. His talons in a tight vice-like grip on the rocks below him as he gazed down. A single stone lost its grip on the rock-face tumbling down towards the ground below, chipping away at other rocks as it fell. As the stone broke through the orange foliage a few shapes burst through the leaves, their wings spread as they took to the sky.


Oh dear...the poor guy looks like he isn't having the most fun there learning how to fly....oh dear...and I love the imagery there right after that, especially that stone just tumbling down is really quite an awesome image to convey how dangerous this situation might be.

Watching the dark silhouettes fly off into the distance Richard heaved a long sigh. His wings shook when he peered down again. From where he stood it was a good few feet from the ground. The fall would either be lethal or break a good few bones. Neither of those sounded good.


Yeah, now why are they starting out with a situation that could leave him severely injured and/or dead...or have they been at this training session for a while now and this is them trying out a place with a few more stakes in it.

He had no idea why he was going to put himself through this. ‘Why do I get myself into these kinds of situations?’ Richard thought to himself, turning his head to peer over his shoulder at the two people who stood behind him.

Mikel gave him a thumbs-up as he grinned from ear to ear, his gaze hopeful.

Standing next to Mikel was Vanessa. She gave Richard a small grin with the faint nod of her head as she waited for him to take the leap of faith.


xD...well those two expressions capture who those two are perfectly, Vanessa is actually worried about what's happening and trying not to show it to him, and Mikel only seems to care about seeing a dragon fly...ahh that's really nicely done there.

Looking away, Richard grimaced as he stared out over the kingdom. The glassy reflection of the ocean in the distance a calm still slate of color, like the sky above.

Vigorously shaking his head Richard backed away from the edge. “Ah, maybe we can do a few practice rounds? You know a small bolder or something for me to get the hang of well my two extra limps.” Richard glanced over his shoulder a sheepish grin coming onto his face as he ruffled his wings.


Yeah that's what I was suggesting, its not a good idea to just leap over the most dangerous possible place without even knowing if you can even fly. Some dragons have wings that aren't big enough to fly after all. Not all dragons can fly.

“Why?” Mikel asked walking up to him. He peered over the edge then back to Richard. “It’s not that high. You’ll be fine.”

Snorting, Richard growled, “Speak for yourself, you're not the one having to jump off the edge and just hope you can fly. It doesn’t work that way you know.”

“Pfft, sure it does, how do you think birds learn to fly once jumping out the nest?” Mikel argued, leaning against Richard’s back leg his arms crossed.


They have a cushioned place to drop down to...mostly...the birds that build nests in more urban areas of course....go splat if they don't end up flying on the first...try...this has been a break in your regularly scheduled review to bring you National Geographic. You will be returned to your review shortly.

Glaring down at Mikel Richard moved away from the boy. Off-balance Mikel fell to the ground now his support had been removed from behind him. Bending his neck down Richard looked him in the eye. “Birds at least know how to use their wings before they leave the nest, all they have to do once they jump is remain airborne.”


Okay...Richard...I am going to have to fact check yo...wait what, National Geographic cannot be transitioned to again...oh...please carry on....

Picking himself up from the ground Mikel scowled back at Richard. “Oh, for King Author's sake just jump!” Mikel put his entire body's weight into Richard’s back leg as he tried to push him towards the edge.

Lifting his leg Richard watched Mikel topple over into the dirt for the second time that day. “Forget it. I’m not doing anything of the sort.”


Well, can't blame Richard for having that particular opinion considering it is his life and limbs that are on the line here...

Walking over to Mikel Vanessa offered her hand to help him up. Gladding excepting her hand Mikel dusted himself off once back onto his feet. Sighing Vanessa crossed her arms. “I guess you could have a few test runs.” She faced Richard with an arched eyebrow. “But it’s not going to get you very far. You will at some point have to jump and learn the hard way, jumping from a small ledge or bolder isn’t going to do the trick.”

“That’s what I was trying to say!” Mikel jumped in, a scowl plastered onto his face.


I highly doubt that's what he was trying to say...but hmm...a tall tree perhaps...to start with...maybe I need a get a better sense of just how big this dragon is and whether this guy can actually climb a tree without having it come crashing down.

Slowly turning her head in her brother’s direction Vanessa frowned at him. “Sure you were.” She drawled rolling her eyes. Turning back to Richard Vanessa pulled her coat's black hood over her head, her black curls trapped within its cloth. Circling her arms around her small frame Vanessa shivered as she rubbed her hands up and down her arms.

“I don’t see why you don’t have a few flaps here?” Mikel suggested his teeth chattering. “I mean it won’t make a difference if you find a small ledge or not.”


Okay, now he's finally talking some sense here, although maybe a running start would be better for wings....or perhaps trying to figure out gliding before you figure out flying, also seems like a good start.

“Try lifting yourself into the air without a jumping start; it should help you get used to your wings faster,” Vanessa suggested pulling Mikle back by the arm to give Richard a little room.

Hesitant, Richard moved away from the ledge not wanting to fall to his death just yet. Having to focus his thoughts on the two extra limps attached to his back Richard extended them as far as they could go. His face screwed up in concentration Richard tried his best to beat them up and down in sync, he didn’t expect it to be so hard, it wasn’t anything like walking. If he lost focus the one wing would lose its rhythm with the other almost sending him spinning in a circle.


Hmm...well I can tell you from experience, learning how to get your wings to beat together in sync reliably takes a bit longer than you might first expect, especially if they're not connected to your hands and are separate limbs entirely. Definitely feeling Richard's pain here.

After a few attempts, Richard could feel it become a little easier to use his wings, but he still had trouble beating them at the same time. They were a lot larger than he would have expected, and it was hard to beat them, his webbing doing well to drag the air along with them. Stopping his rhythm he allowed the heavy extra appendages sink to his sides, just brushing the sand.


Oooh, I love the bits of tactile imagery we get here, its lends awesomely towards us really being able to understand what Richard is feeling at the moment. Also the fact that those are really large wings are good sign. That usually means they're big enough to support flight.

“That was a lot harder than I expected,” Richard growled, curling his tail around his talons as he sat down. Turning his head to look behind him he sighed as his eyes landed on the trees dotting the land. “I guess now there is only one other way to do it.”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine, we aren’t that high up.” Vanessa patted his shoulder gently.


Ahh, I'm really loving this little contrast that you're creating between Mikel and Vanessa, it really is good to see two distinct personalities there, these characters really are developing quite well here.

Rubbing his hands together Mikel grinned, “Imagine all the cool things you will be able to do once you get the hang of it?” As he said that Mikel looked in the direction of the palace.

After sending Mikel a disapproving glare Vanessa turned her attention back to Richard who was now in position, his head dipped down to look at the steep slope down. “Try to clear your mind,” Vanessa advised. “Try and connect with your wings, and don’t overthink it.” She swatted his wing lightly.


I would Vanessa advice there buddy, Mikel's might just end up in you having several broken bones.

A deep chuckle rolled out of Richard’s mouth as he turned his head to look back at her. “Easier said than done.” Grinning at her amused look Richard turned his attention back to the landscape below.

‘I can do this, there’s nothing much to it.’ Richard thought to himself digging his talons deeper into the ground. ‘All I have to do is jump off the edge…aaannnddd…fall to my death. Yup easy, nothing to worry about.’


Certainly nothing to worry about...unless you really like living, in which case there might be a small reason to worry.

Spreading his wings out to their full-length Richard heaved a long sigh; he couldn’t believe he was doing this. Sucking in a deep breath he allowed himself to feel the world around him, his wing webbings slight flutter to the wind's soft and enchanting dance. The smell of flowers closing for the night rushing through his senses.

Loosening his grip on the rocks below Richard looked down one last time before flapping his wings hoisting himself into the air. He winced when he felt the tip on his tail thwack against the rocks as he dove downward.


Woohooo...aand we're off, I really love the description there of him taking off, you really get to see the clumsiness of a first flight and also the giddy excitement that comes with going on your first flight and feeling that air through your wings for the first time. There really is no feeling quite like it.

Free-falling through the air Richard enjoyed the new sensation, the cold rush of winter air flowing over his body as he allowed himself to gain speed. With his wings tucked in at his sides and tail behind him. Richard felt like an arrow that had just been released from the bowstring, it really was something else.


Oooooh...this boy heading towards the ground kinda fast, probably not a good idea for him to immediately start by going into a dive bombing formation there...that's definitely not the trick you wanna start with.

As the ground rushed up to meet him Richard’s eyes widened as he hurriedly flailed his wings around him trying to slow down the fall. Not able to sink his wing beats up with one another fast enough to stop the fall, Richard extended his talons plunging them into the rock's hard exteriors without a second thought. Gritting his teeth Richard dug his claws into the stone further as his speed began to slow.


At least he's thinking on his feet here, that's good, doing something like that will make you hate your talons for a while but..it'll do the trick. Also him not being able to fly his way out trouble is wonderful to see, you really get a good sense that he's got no idea how to use his wings quite yet.

Finally coming to a complete stop his talons still embedded in the stones Richard heaved out long deep breaths. “This was not a good idea.” He growled to himself as he removed one of his front talons pulling out clumps of gravel with them.


Yeah, I have to agree, that was a terrible idea Richard, you should've tried to glide more, not dive...

“Richard are you okay?” Came Vanessa’s worried voice from above.

Heaving one last sigh Richard began to climb up the cliff face towards the others his talons digging deep into the stones. Once he reached the top he flopped to the ground smoke coiling from his nostrils. “Don’t even ask.” He hissed when his eyes landed on Mikel who had a confused expression plastered on his face.


Well, he's mad at himself, the poor guy, hopefully someone talks him into doing a bit more practice cause he will need to learn how to fly eventually.

“You going to try again?” Vanessa asked wiping some dust off of his horns.

Jerking his head upwards to look at her, Richard glared. “No, I don’t think so. It’s a bad idea, I can’t do it.” He grumbled folding his tail around his back talons as he inverted his gaze. “What’s the point?”


Ooof, someone's going to have to talk to him and convince him there, can't blame him for not wanting to try again after a situation like that..but...giving up after one try isn't a good idea either.

“Richard Ashbrook, you are not giving up, there is a reason you are connected to that Gem and if you stop trying now…how are you going to avenge your parent’s deaths and save the Kingdom?” Vanessa scolded crossing her arms. “That has been your goal from the beginning, there are no shortcuts to gaining power, this included.” She pointed towards him then to the cliff. “That’s the point.”


Oooh...didn't quite expect that, but yee...come on Vanessa, remind him of exactly why he's doing this, he can't give up quite this fast, although he should probably take a small break before he tries again, just to rest those wings a little.

Mumbling under his breath Richard got to his feet. “Fine, your right.” Frustrated he allowed a small flicker of flames to leave his mouth, but it was quickly put out by the cold.

Placing her hands on her hips Vanessa gave Richard a pleased look. “Good, now try again.” She ordered.


Hmm...well looks like he's starting out immediately, hmm...hopefully those wing muscles aren't too tired. Also I love how Vanessa acts there in the end, she pretty much just controlled Richard this entire chapter..xD

Shaking his head to remove the dizzy spell that came over him Richard swept his tail against the ground sweeping up clouds of dust. Heart beating against his ribs Richard ran for the end of the ledge, once his front talons met with the very edge he leaped into the air his wings fanning out around him.


Aaaand off we go again...hopefully this time its better for him...:D

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, I really like the attention you've paid to the wings, and how using them for the first time is not going to be easy. Its good to see that you haven't magicked your way past him being able to use this new body, and the way that Mikel and Vanessa are shining through on their own as characters is just the icing on the cake. :D

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry






Gosh this review came in really quickly!
Hahaha thank you so much!!! I'm really glad you liked the chapter! I was really happy with the outcome!
Yeah this chapter was perfect to see each characters personality, and add some development into the mix.
I'm so happy you enjoyed it! It was very fun to write the flying scenes, even if he didn't fly. Lol

I will post the next chapter as soon as I can!



HarryHardy says...


You're Welcome!!!

xD...now that I'm caught up, I review 'em as I see 'em.

And woohoo...looking forward to that. :D





That's good to know. :D



HarryHardy says...


:D



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Wed Jun 09, 2021 5:47 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi FlamingPhoenix,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

That was an exciting chapter. Training music on and off we go :D It read well and I felt like Richard was doing a school lesson. You've brought out his character well here and expressed his feelings elegantly. I like that this chapter feels like an interim chapter and how the story develops here.
Let's jump in to some points I found:

This was a bad idea…a very bad idea. Why did he let them talk him into it? It was suicide.

That´s a pretty good start to give the reader already in the first sentence some sort of suspense and questions. Your choice of words is well chosen since it didn´t sound to pessimistic and not to dramatic.
Richard thought to himself, turning his head to peer over his shoulder at the two people who stood behind him.

I don´t think it is necessary to put the “to himself” here. If you think, you usually think for yourself and don´t think with others. (?) :D I would add a “to himself / herself, etc” to it, when there are different characters who are thinking or when it´s some sort of “motivation speech” as another person would speak to him.
The glassy reflection of the ocean in the distance a calm still slate of color, like the sky above.

That´s a beautiful description. I like that the reader can interpret the “glassy reflection” not just as the ocean but also as a meaning of the situation Richard, Mikel and Vanessa are in. If they are found, everything breaks before a plan has even been formed.
You know a small bolder or something for me to get the hang of well my two extra limps.”

I think you mean “boulder” here instead of “bolder”.
“Speak for yourself, you're not the one having to jump off the edge and just hope you can fly. It doesn’t work that way you know.”

That Richard agreed in the first place to do that is pretty brave. I wouldn´t have done that, even if everybody says that it´s save.
“Try lifting yourself into the air without a jumping start; it should help you get used to your wings faster,” Vanessa suggested pulling Mikle back by the arm to give Richard a little room.

I like how Vanessa has a very good idea. She she the one who thinks like a bird/dragon and how it makes the most sense to teach you to fly.
If he lost focus the one wing would lose its rhythm with the other almost sending him spinning in a circle.

I don't know why I like the sentence here so much, but it gives me the idea that an animal's wings function like a human's arms and are not "grown together". This makes flying even more graceful when you watch birds flapping their wings and you know that they probably have to move them individually.
‘All I have to do is jump off the edge…aaannnddd…fall to my death. Yup easy, nothing to worry about.’

I shouldn´t have laughed here. :D

I like this chapter very much. You have managed to bring a "boring" school lesson to a developmental conclusion. I especially like how you put in Richard's doubts and how Vanessa tries to reassure him.

I think Vanessa was my highlight here in the chapter. She was definitely the one who had the most to say here and was aware of the whole situation. I like how she tries to motivate Richard and seems friendly and helpful at the beginning but becomes more serious during the chapter itself and doesn't treat Richard with kid gloves anymore but tells him clearly what the consequences will be if he can't fly.

You have described this chapter really well. As a reader, it's easy to see how the sequel will develop, but at the same time I like the pace here. It also gave the reader enough time to get a little more familiar with Vanessa. Because I always had the impression that she was the smarter of them all, but also the most reserved.

I also just like Mikel's brief comment about motivating Richard with the possibilities. I can imagine he would be thrilled if he could turn into a dragon. You have managed to present even a simple chapter without much plot progress (but therefore character progress) in an interesting, funny but also serious manner. Above all, I like the fact that Richard can't start right away, but still needs practice. It's a good development and doesn't make the story seem casual and "easy".

You have continued to write good descriptions here and have more than once brought me to amazement and to some moments where I had to pause briefly to think about how hard it must actually be for Richard to control this new body. He seems to me like a newborn fawn or some other animal that shakily wants to stand on all fours.

It was a very great chapter with good character depth and development. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Have fun writing!

Mailice.






Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!!
This chapter helped me so much! I was very worried about this chapter not coming out right and being to boring! But thanks to your very kind words I don't feel that way anymore!
And you picked up on somethings I didn't think you would so that's really cool!
XD Yeah Vanessa is the calm and collected one here.
I thought instead of Richard being his normal self jumping in head first like he has been doing through out the story so far I thought it would be good to have the reader see he has fears too. And like you said character progress. :D

Oh I'm so excited to post the next chapter now!
Again thank you so much you have really helped me!




My tongue must tell the anger of my heart, or else my heart, concealing it, will break...
— Katherine, The Taming of the Shrew