Peer Review by BizzleWrites (Australia)

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On the High Seas

By: Stone of Jade

The crowd of people in the market was hard to maneuver in, let alone stay alert. A cool breeze carried the smell of saltwater and seaweed towards Ladell. Colors from all ends of the earth decorated the carts and stands, each displaying exotic fruits and spices, woven baskets and delicate silks. As Ladell made her way through the busy market, occasionally stopping to buy various supplies, she felt a strange tingling at the back of her neck. On instinct, Ladell knew someone was following her. Yet she didn't feel threatened. The feeling was oddly familiar. Ladell scanned the cobbled street, but saw nothing suspicious. Whoever was following her knew what they were doing. Ladell quickened her pace. 
    It was a small island, but news travelled fast overseas--especially when it had to do with pirates. Ladell kept a wary lookout as she made her way to the docks. She took shortcuts through alleys, backtracking more multiple times in order to throw anyone off. She had just made the last of her errands and was heading back to her ship, when a hand pulled her into a back alley. 
    A figure in a green cloak shoved her into the wall, arm pressed against her chest. Ladell dropped her sack, the supplies scattered over the cobblestones. 
    “So you finally decided to show your face, Golden Eye,” a gruff voice taunted. The attacker was covered in a dark hood, which veiled his face from view. 
    Ladell racked her brain for who this could be. She’d never been to this island before, let alone knew anyone who lived here. She tried to steady her breathing--she had to keep her cool. Quietly, Ladell slipped her knife out of its sheath.
    “I know why you’re here. Just couldn’t help yourself, could you?” The attacker hadn’t noticed Ladell palm her knife. “You won’t get away this time,” he sneered as he pressed Ladell harder into the wall, the cotton of the fabric scratching her neck.
    Ladell exhaled, which loosened the grip on her chest. She slammed her knee up into her attacker’s gut. Before he could fight back, Ladell pushed. He clumsily crashed to the ground. Ladell jumped on top of him, her knife blade delicately poised above his throat.
    “I don’t play around,” she hissed. “Who are you?” Ladell pressed against her attacker’s chest, but faltered when she realized the man was laughing. He raised his hands above his head.
    “I surrender,” he said. Still laughing, the figure reached slowly and pulled back his hood, revealing his face. “Come on, Ladell. You know me.”
    Now unveiled, Ladell recognized the familiar smirk and shining eyes. She knew him at once, his identity proven by a deep scar that stretched across his nose and onto his left cheek. 
    “Tallis?” Ladell was shocked. Under the hood was her childhood friend and first partner in crime. Ladell scrambled to her feet, pulling Tallis off the sand-crusted street. “What were you thinking? I could have killed you!”
    Tallis brushed the dirt off his clothes. “I saw you in the market, and wanted to say hello.”
    “There are easier ways to do that--ways that don’t involve being mugged in an alley!” Ladell tried to stay mad at her friend, but she was too happy to see him. “Tallis, it’s been years! I haven’t heard from you since the Mayborne job! What’s the Swindler been up too?”
    “Oh, you’ve heard about me?”
    “Almost everyone knows who you are now--we’re not small town criminals anymore."
    Tallis chuckled. “I’ve been travelling a good deal, seeing the world, meeting all sorts of people.”
    “So the usual? Stowing away on ships, stealing whatever pleases your eye, becoming enemies with the richest men alive?” Ladell saw right through his sugar-coated words. They had been in partnership for years. She knew Tallis would have gotten himself into all sorts of trouble.
    “Yea, something like that,” Tallis smiled. “I heard you made a name for yourself. Golden Eye fits you nicely, and not just because of your thievery skills,” he winked. “So...what brings the captain of The Manta to the Parconna Islands?”
     “We needed supplies and Parconna was the first island we came across. My crew is headed towards Conquest Reef. What about you? Is this the only place you aren’t wanted?”
    “For now,” Tallis said. “I have a small job. Have you ever heard of the Coral Globe?”
    “Tallis, keep your voice down!” Ladell said sternly, stepping back. “You can’t cross Captain Colborne--not again.”
    “Oh please, I’ve met way worse than that rich captain. Besides, Mayborne was years ago. He’s not gonna remember me.”
    “No, Tallis. Boothe Colborne is the most dangerous man alive,” Ladell warned him grimly. “I raided one of his merchant ships by accident--”
    “Hold up--you raided a ship by accident?”
    “No, I raided his ship by accident. I’d have left it alone if I’d known whose it was. He didn’t stop chasing us for months. We finally lost him because of a freak storm. But the Coral Globe? That treasure is worth more than a million Bits...and it is his greatest pride. Imagine what wrath you’ll invoke if you steal it!”
    “Ladell, I have to,” Tallis pleaded. “You don’t understand.”
    "How did you even find out where he kept the globe? Who set you on this job?”
    Tallis looked down. “Thornley,” he whispered. 
    “You’re working for Thornley again? Son of a seagull, Tallis! What have you been doing to get roped into Thornley’s grasp?”
    “I got into a bit of trouble, that’s all. It’s nothing you need to know about. Look, once I do this job I’m free.”
    Ladell could see the pain behind his eyes. Her friend had been through much in the years they’d been apart. “When?”
    “Tonight,” Tallis said. “It’s an in and out job.”
    “Really? What’s your out?”
    Tallis shifted his weight between his feet. “Merchant ship?” 
   “They’ll catch you before they’ve even left the harbor! If you are going to steal from the richest man in this half of the world, you have to make a secure escape plan!” Ladell glared at Tallis. 
    “I know, that’s why it was such a great coincidence I ran into you!”
    “No, Tallis.”
    “Come on, Ladell,” Tallis implored. “You were always the brains of the operation. One more job, just like old times?”
    “Tallis, I’m not risking the lives of my crew.”
    “Ladell, please. If I don’t do this job I’ll be a dead man.”
    “By doing this job, you’re already a dead man. I’m sorry Tallis, I pick fights I know I can win. Boothe Colborne is one person even the Swindler can’t beat.”
    Tallis was silent for a long time before speaking. “I understand," he said. "I’m sorry for even asking--it was nice seeing you again.” Tallis feigned a smile as he turned to leave. Before he could, Ladell caught his arm. 
    “Tallis, wait,” Ladell said, her voice softening. “I set sail tomorrow. I can’t help you with the job but"--she took a deep breath--“if you need an out...”
    “Thanks, Ladell."
    “I leave at dawn, not a second later.”

word count: 1175
(working on cutting it down)

Message to Readers

This is my second draft! Still working on cutting down the word count though.

anemoia & lattes (#dreams of autumn)
Paisley Blue

You guys gave such detailed reviews. They were so so helpful!

I still need feedback! I will honor review for review, but comments are just as helpful and greatly appreciated. Thank you so so much!

Also I am looking for title ideas!

Peer Review

I really like the relationship between the child-hood friends Tallis and Ladell, it really feels real and draws the reader into the story and the characters' personalities. I also like the pirate trope, and that it's set (at least this bit is) on an island.

The dialogue between Tallis and Ladell is very realistic. I like Ladell's resposibility for keeping her crew safe and being a good captain. One thing I'm very curious about is the characters' ages? They seem to act like they're in their late teens, but could also be young adults, including that could help readers relate more, and understand how long Ladell has been a pirate.

A flash-back to even a snippet of dialogue from when Tallis and Ladell were friends could help us understand what they are reminiscing back to.

Including some people in the market would definitely make it feel more alive. I got a sense that it was kind of abandoned, but after just referencing back to it, you said it was busy, maybe that was just a mistake on my behalf, but if you made it more obvious of how busy or crowded it was that could be good. And idea could possibly be kids playing marbles or something, people drinking soft-drink, if they have it on that island, a store owner weaving a basket, or anything else like that. This would give the reader an idea of what to imagine for this crowded market. Something I wasn't sure about was the temperature, so more detail (E.G. Sweltering hot, slightly chilly, mild.) could help get more into the scene.

This was over-all a really good story excerpt, I enjoyed reading it and you definitely have skill. Keep writing (duh) and your writing will be even better.

Reviewer Comments

I hope this review helps you in your writing and editing process! It was fun to write, and very fun to read your story.
Also, in terms of a name for it, I have a few ideas:
The Merchant Ship,
Ladell and Tallis ,
Golden eye,
Chaos On The High Seas,
A Golden Eyed Pirate, (that one was my favorite.)
Of course you don't have to use any of these, and I like the name On The Hight Seas, but you were looking for ideas and I had some. I hope this helps!