The Official Writing Challenge
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This is a thrilling story and one I had to read twice and I expect possibly a third and fourth time. You drew me in immediately and I was riveted throughout the whole story.

It did take me a second to realize that James was developmentally disabled. I know the word limit prevented you from developing the characters more. It didn't distract from the story, I just wanted more to read. I assume James would be well cared for in the separate provision. I did wonder if James always knew where the key was or if the prearrangement from Father was he would swallow the key if James found it. Though the truth of the matter is not knowing for certain made the story even more exciting for me.

I did wonder if it was truly on topic as I see it as taking place on the estate or a farm. I know you did use the word park once but if this piece doesn't rank as high as I think it should I fear it might be because the topic criterion received a lower score.

But with that said I think you did a fantastic job overall. So if I review the criterion the first being topic--I already covered that. Next you would score quite high in my book for creativity and uniqueness. The crafting category should also do well as this piece was well-written. The only thing I might waver about is there were a few lines like this: looking like a thundercloud waiting to unload its liquid cargo. The parchment whispered death's song in its unfolding.
might be considered borderline purple prose but there were so many other spots were you did an outstanding job of showing and painting a picture for the reader.(Ex: His shaking fingers lifted the ornate seal.)

Both the beginning and the ending were superb, as was the transition. I also could see these characters in a novel. If you ever decide to take this story in that direction let me know because I'd be thrilled to read it.
Congratulations for ranking 6th in level three!