Thanks for this feedback, again very valuable to me. What I was attempting to do in scene 2 was to revive the sense of threat to the party after the lovers coming together in scene 1. (Then scene 1 of next Chap builds on this scene (or is meant to) and takes the conflict higher.) But ugh.... I will see how I could fix this scene on my 2nd draft for this book.
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Yes, I'm trying to drop bits about their culture here and there, as much as possible (that's why I personally love fantasy at any rate). I've never read Moby Dick before or even heard about the Cup of Gold (but I can tell you I can never finish Treasure Island, not even the kids' version but then I was reading a Chinese translation so that's a contributing factor as well). I'm currently re-reading Lord of Rings to learn from this absolute fav or mine but yes, Moby Dick will now be on my reading list. Cup of Gold? I have to read the abstract to see if it interests me enough to pick it up. There're classics that I simply cannot abide.