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The Many Gifts of Malia--Part 1: "The Child"

by dragonfphoenix


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.

I paused. Stared down at the child. Blinked. The child stared back. Blinked. Maintained an impassive face as it passed gas in my presence, at the very foot of my throne room stairs.

I sighed. "No chosen ones, no special blessings, and no human sacrifices. Gave up on the first three centuries ago tomorrow, never gave the second, and the third I claimed to have given up for Lent but my followers never believed me."

The child sat there, chubby cheeks giving it a toad like appearance, but failed to laugh at my joke.

My robes rustled as I turned my back on the infant human and settled into my throne. I hadn't had an audience in decades, mainly due to conceding my seat in the pantheon to my protégé and sequestering myself in the abandoned temple on the edge of civilization. If the records were to be believed, my primordial predecessor had erected the place as a summer palace millennia ago, back when the surrounding bodies of water were more freshwater lakes and less rancid swamps. How someone had navigated the quagmire to leave this child here, and why, was beyond me.

"Well, do you do anything?" I asked, fluttering my fingers at the child.

He sniffed, an annoying clearing of snot rather than a quest for pity. Unfortunate. I'd rather have exterminated him for vain attempts at my sympathy than merely being a nuisance. But he was much too young to be of any use to me, and I'd given up the office politics long ago. My bones grated as I pushed off my throne. A short audience, and I would've enjoyed a longer seat, but with the child incapable of conversation I found myself skipping the formalities. The sooner the child was dead, the faster I could go back to enjoying my twilight centuries. Maybe a decade in the swamps would do me good.

As I made my way down the steps, the child turned and crawled away. I froze. On the child's back was a note, written on thick parchment with crimson ink. I'd recognize that handwriting anywhere, even without the skull signet sealed in violet wax. Knees creaking, I hurried down the steps and snatched the paper off the child's back, snapping the purple seal in the process.

"My dearest Charax," the note read, "I trust you've been savoring your isolation. Toying with the other gods just hasn't been the same since you left."

Of course not. You always had a bone to pick with me and invented one when you did not.

"The decades have been kind to me, my dear, and my followers have flourished with the recent bountiful crops. War is a wonderful field to harvest, and my silos are full to bursting."

I'll bet they are. And I bet your blood-drunkeness had nothing to do with this missive.

"As a token of our former friendship,"

Ha.

"please accept this human child. I found him orphaned on the battlefield, and I couldn't bring myself to put him down. I hear 'orphaned by war' is an excellent origin story for villains these days. You always did have a flair for training the best."

Uh oh.

"All my love. I look forward to seeing what you do with this one in the next three decades. Yours forever, Malia."

That gods-damned woman. It'd not even been a millennium yet and she was already meddling. She'd promised me at least that much time to myself.

I glared over the note at the child, who was happily crawling across dirt-stained bricks. The thing didn't even have the presence of mind to be terrified by the dark, damp moss clinging to the temple pillars or the nauseating aura of death permeating the heavy, stagnant air. I crumpled the note and threw it in a patch of sitting water on the temple floor.

Fool woman. I wasn't going to be raising her next war lieutenant. I'd done quite enough of that over the centuries, and I was retired, gods damn it.

"What are you..." I nearly tripped over my robes in my haste to catch the child before it pitched face first into a brazier. The hanging fire pit, suspended to a tripod of iron bars by thick chains, was unlit, its ashes aeons-cold, but the rim had a nasty edge and who knew what had once burned in its flame.

The child looked back at me, comfortable in my arms, and clapped. Stupid imp had the most self-satisfied smile on its face. I put him down with a grunt, grumbling to myself about my aging bones.

Unfazed by his near brush with death, the child immediately beelined for the next hanging brazier. He got as far as pushing against the metal pan and nearly bashing his brains out before I caught the backswing. Hands on my knees, I fought to catch my breathe and shot the infant my most withering glare. In my heyday, I'd burned prime warriors to piles of ash, but I was severely out of practice as the child merely sat and clapped, that stupid grin on its face. Its. I would not see the child as more than a thing. Damned fool war goddess would not...

I sighed deeply as the child made for the third brazier. This time I let him get all the way over, dig his hands around in the ash, maybe sample a bit and see if it killed him. Alas, he only smeared it across his face, streaking dark stains on his skin. As he laughed and clapped, he choked on the cloud of dust he kicked up.

Just my luck it wasn't enough to kill him, for he sneezed and went right back to work, arms, head, and shoulders disappearing into the bowl.

"That's enough," I said, stalking over to yank the child out of the ashes. He spluttered happy slobber and flung ash in my face, giggling like a devil as I coughed and fanned the cloud away. As I carried him back to my throne by his arm, I griped to myself. A deity of my age should be beyond such complaining, but I was old, on my own, and entitled to a bit of aged crotchety attitude every now and then.

The child did have an eye for trouble though. And a keen propensity for getting into trouble. If I could properly cultivate that instinct, I could...

No, no, no. I'd laid down those reins long ago. I was retired. I was...

Giving in.

"I don't know what I'm going to feed you," I told the child. "And I can't really tell you why I'm going to do this. It's not because of her, oh no." I scowled at the note, and then nearly dropped the child.

Not only had the parchment failed to properly disintegrate in the water, it had uncrumpled itself to reveal another note on the back, one I was certain hadn't been there before. I set the child down and retrieved the letter, shaking droplets off the paper.

"I knew you'd come around. Since I also know you haven't given your surrounding grounds a proper scouting in decades, I've compiled a list of game you can sustainably farm for the child until he's of age to reintegrate into society. Graves and kisses, Malia."

"I haven't come around to anything," I told the note. It didn't say anything back.

"I could still kill you," I said to the child.

He licked his hands and dribbled ashy spit down his chin. Sighing, I made my way back to my throne and settled in. I guess I was going to have a proper audience today.

"So, child. What shall I call you?"


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Wed May 22, 2024 6:00 pm
AnotherCrowInRow wrote a review...



Heyo!
So this looks like an extremely promising start! I have to say this right off the bat: I love your storytelling style. Maybe it's just the first chapter, but that doesn't change the fact that you'll be blown away by this story. I can't wait to start the next chapter, but for now I'll at least take a short break from reading and start a little review.
The idea of ​​an apparently ancient deity (probably dark) adopting a random kid is amazing. Although this is becoming a frequent trope recently, I think it looks sufficiently non-clichéd here.
An old deity like a grumpy pensioner who is a bit fed up with his ex and currently lives at the end of the world, where he has peace from everyone? I can relate to that more than I care to admit, hehe.
The text is very fluent - only a few little things disturb it, or sentences that don't quite fit with the rest. However, it is nothing extreme, it does not spoil the reading experience.
The character of Charax opens many questions (for example, I would be extremely interested in what he actually rules - we already had hints here, but nothing clear), as well as the small child sent to him by Malia (I hope to learn a lot more about her as well). I know this review was probably very messy and maybe didn't offer you that much quality feedback, but I hope it conveyed the main thing: a fanatical piece of work that I'm kind of grateful is now finished so I can finish reading it.




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Wed Nov 17, 2021 6:38 pm
MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi dragonfphoenix,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

I had started reading the story, but at some point more and more things got in the way. Now I'm here, and I'll start again from the beginning.

We've already got off to a great start here, which, between a certain humorous streak and the mixture of the comments, strikes me as a strange parable. I really like this style and find that it has a good and pleasant tone throughout the chapter, and doesn't seem exaggerated or understated at any point. It reminds me of a documentary, where sometimes you see something live and in between you still see the narrator on the side explaining some things.

I was also struck by your writing style and the constant alternation between longer and shorter sentences. On the one hand, I think it's a great idea and structure, but there are places where I find it a bit too much of a strain when you suddenly have to switch between "long" and "short". It's a bit like changing gears in a car, where I always have to pay attention.

Here, for example, I had a bit of a hard time reading:

He sniffed, an annoying clearing of snot rather than a quest for pity. Unfortunate. I'd rather have exterminated him for vain attempts at my sympathy than merely being a nuisance. But he was much too young to be of any use to me, and I'd given up the office politics long ago. My bones grated as I pushed off my throne. A short audience, and I would've enjoyed a longer seat, but with the child incapable of conversation I found myself skipping the formalities.

In itself I like the section, but because the sentences are not "connected" to each other in some places, it seems to me that there are sentences missing in between.

So far I like the narrative voice and the character. You can clearly see that they are struggling and are also struggling with remorse. The insertion of first person narration also gives the opportunity to get a direct view of the character and see a bit inside his head.

In general, I like the structure and plot here, as long as you can get some initial thoughts in there. The writing style is unique and graceful in itself and I like the structure very much and, apart from a few minor points where it lags a bit in places, I think the story itself makes a promising impression.

Have fun writing!

Mailice




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Tue Aug 17, 2021 2:30 pm
RealSadhours296 wrote a review...



Found your most recent chapter, and decided to read the first one. Retired God adopts mortal child? Yes. Absolutely. Breathtaking. I love it.

Some things I've noticed is that there are a couple places where you could have put a comma to improve the word-flow. You also did this thing where you called Malia "Fool war goddess" a few times. Shouldn't it be "foolish war goddess?" It just sounds a bit weird is all. otherwise this is a great first chapter. My comments are just small nitpicks.

Interested in what Charax used to rule over. Based on his affiliation with Malia, some sort of trickster god or death god I'm assuming? Once my motivation strikes me I'll read the next chapter.

Keep up the good work!




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Tue Feb 09, 2021 3:39 pm
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Myre says...



Wow. That was...I love this. I'm looking forward to reading part 2 after I finish this review-
the only thing I would change is that the child is being repetitively called "the child". Maybe use "the toddler", "the young one", "the baby", or whatever else interchangeably.


Honestly, I feel so horrible about saying anything bad about this anyway lol
I love it, and I can tell I'll be an avid reader of yours in the future!




dragonfphoenix says...


Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. (Thanks for the suggestion. Since I'm serializing this, I'm planning on doing a polish/continuity edit once everything's finished)



Myre says...


Seriously, it's wonderful! Thanks for creating this



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Fri Feb 05, 2021 7:15 am
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SoullessGinger wrote a review...



Oh, I love this! It's such a playful start to an interesting story. And you so perfectly captured babies, which I personally think is one hell of a feat. Something else I really appreciate is how you show us so much of this deity's personality in just one scene. I'm excited to learn more about this Malia (also loved "Graves and Kisses" nice touch). Also, in this section;

"No chosen ones, no special blessings, and no human sacrifices. Gave up on the first three centuries ago tomorrow, never gave the second, and the third I claimed to have given up for Lent but my followers never believed me."

Lent? Hmm, I'm so tempted to ask if the Christian idea of God is present in your universe, or if Charax is a deity posing as the Christian idea of God, or if they're just messing around. I don't know, I just made the connection, lol.

I'd also like to say I like the way you give us a visualization of the setting, without just dumping a description at the beginning. You weave in bits and pieces as the child crawls around. I love it.

In summary, I will 100% come back for the second chapter, and I'm super excited to see where this goes!




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Thu Feb 04, 2021 6:29 pm
KateHardy wrote a review...



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

Hi! I'm here to leave a quick review!!

First Impression: Soo..this seems like an awesome start to a novel. I really enjoyed that first chapter and I know for certain that if I read that first up, I would be turning the pages to read the next chapter.

Anyway let's get right to it,

I paused. Stared down at the child. Blinked. The child stared back. Blinked. Maintained an impassive face as it passed gas in my presence, at the very foot of my throne room stairs.


Oh wow...now that is an impressive start to a story...I love it right off the bat and that is very difficult to do...trust me.

I sighed. "No chosen ones, no special blessings, and no human sacrifices. Gave up on the first three centuries ago tomorrow, never gave the second, and the third I claimed to have given up for Lent but my followers never believed me."


Err...not quite sure where that line came from because I am confused at the moment as to
what that means.

The child sat there, chubby cheeks giving it a toad like appearance, but failed to laugh at my joke.


I doubt the child was the only one not to laugh.

My robes rustled as I turned my back on the infant human and settled into my throne. I hadn't had an audience in decades, mainly due to conceding my seat in the pantheon to my protégé and sequestering myself in the abandoned temple on the edge of civilization. If the records were to be believed, my primordial predecessor had erected the place as a summer palace millennia ago, back when the surrounding bodies of water were more freshwater lakes and less rancid swamps. How someone had navigated the quagmire to leave this child here, and why, was beyond me.


Okay...well it appears we are now somewhat getting to the root of the matter...which is always a good thing...this story sounds interesting so far.

He sniffed, an annoying clearing of snot rather than a quest for pity. Unfortunate. I'd rather have exterminated him for vain attempts at my sympathy than merely being a nuisance. But he was much too young to be of any use to me, and I'd given up the office politics long ago. My bones grated as I pushed off my throne. A short audience, and I would've enjoyed a longer seat, but with the child incapable of conversation I found myself skipping the formalities. The sooner the child was dead, the faster I could go back to enjoying my twilight centuries. Maybe a decade in the swamps would do me good.


I really can't decide between being utterly horrified and utterly amused.

As I made my way down the steps, the child turned and crawled away. I froze. On the child's back was a note, written on thick parchment with crimson ink. I'd recognize that handwriting anywhere, even without the skull signet sealed in violet wax. Knees creaking, I hurried down the steps and snatched the paper off the child's back, snapping the purple seal in the process.


And he somehow didn't notice that all the time he was staring...hmm...well...at least the story is moving forward...and that's good.

"My dearest Charax," the note read, "I trust you've been savoring your isolation. Toying with the other gods just hasn't been the same since you left."

Of course not. You always had a bone to pick with me and invented one when you did not.


Ooooh...that sounds like a fun friendship...now doesn't it?

"The decades have been kind to me, my dear, and my followers have flourished with the recent bountiful crops. War is a wonderful field to harvest, and my silos are full to bursting."

I'll bet they are. And I bet your blood-drunkeness had nothing to do with this missive.


Oh and it gets even better.

"As a token of our former friendship,"

Ha.

"please accept this human child. I found him orphaned on the battlefield, and I couldn't bring myself to put him down. I hear 'orphaned by war' is an excellent origin story for villains these days. You always did have a flair for training the best."


Oh I love that idea...this is turning out to be really funny so far...not to mention quite intriguing...my favorite combination.

"All my love. I look forward to seeing what you do with this one in the next three decades. Yours forever, Malia."

That gods-damned woman. It'd not even been a millennium yet and she was already meddling. She'd promised me at least that much time to myself.


Immortals....always complaining...

I glared over the note at the child, who was happily crawling across dirt-stained bricks. The thing didn't even have the presence of mind to be terrified by the dark, damp moss clinging to the temple pillars or the nauseating aura of death permeating the heavy, stagnant air. I crumpled the note and threw it in a patch of sitting water on the temple floor.


Oh yeah...children tend to do that...

Fool woman. I wasn't going to be raising her next war lieutenant. I'd done quite enough of that over the centuries, and I was retired, gods damn it.

"What are you..." I nearly tripped over my robes in my haste to catch the child before it pitched face first into a brazier. The hanging fire pit, suspended to a tripod of iron bars by thick chains, was unlit, its ashes aeons-cold, but the rim had a nasty edge and who knew what had once burned in its flame.


Oh this is going to be torture for this presumably evil god of some sorts and I am loving that idea.

The child looked back at me, comfortable in my arms, and clapped. Stupid imp had the most self-satisfied smile on its face. I put him down with a grunt, grumbling to myself about my aging bones.

Unfazed by his near brush with death, the child immediately beelined for the next hanging brazier. He got as far as pushing against the metal pan and nearly bashing his brains out before I caught the backswing. Hands on my knees, I fought to catch my breathe and shot the infant my most withering glare. In my heyday, I'd burned prime warriors to piles of ash, but I was severely out of practice as the child merely sat and clapped, that stupid grin on its face. Its. I would not see the child as more than a thing. Damned fool war goddess would not...


Oh this one is starting to give in now...you can sense it in the air...resistance if futile...embrace the cuteness.

I sighed deeply as the child made for the third brazier. This time I let him get all the way over, dig his hands around in the ash, maybe sample a bit and see if it killed him. Alas, he only smeared it across his face, streaking dark stains on his skin. As he laughed and clapped, he choked on the cloud of dust he kicked up.


Oh that's definitely not going to work...

"That's enough," I said, stalking over to yank the child out of the ashes. He spluttered happy slobber and flung ash in my face, giggling like a devil as I coughed and fanned the cloud away. As I carried him back to my throne by his arm, I griped to myself. A deity of my age should be beyond such complaining, but I was old, on my own, and entitled to a bit of aged crotchety attitude every now and then.


Oh most definitely....

No, no, no. I'd laid down those reins long ago. I was retired. I was...

Giving in.

"I don't know what I'm going to feed you," I told the child. "And I can't really tell you why I'm going to do this. It's not because of her, oh no." I scowled at the note, and then nearly dropped the child.


Oh that seems promising....

"I knew you'd come around. Since I also know you haven't given your surrounding grounds a proper scouting in decades, I've compiled a list of game you can sustainably farm for the child until he's of age to reintegrate into society. Graves and kisses, Malia."

"I haven't come around to anything," I told the note. It didn't say anything back.

"I could still kill you," I said to the child.


Of course you could....but you never will...

He licked his hands and dribbled ashy spit down his chin. Sighing, I made my way back to my throne and settled in. I guess I was going to have a proper audience today.

"So, child. What shall I call you?"


Oooooh this promises to be a really good story....

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall this is a great first chapter that you've got here...and I think it could be a really interesting story at least judging from how the first chapter was...well anyway that's all I've gotta say so I'll stop for now. :D

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

Stay Safe
Harry




dragonfphoenix says...


Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)



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Wed Feb 03, 2021 2:26 pm
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Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

Aw, I really liked this story! It's such a cute concept, and you pull it off wonderfully. Your narration was great, and I'm really excited to see what happens next!

One thing I really enjoyed about this story was your writing voice. You write from the perspective of an old god so well. I can't say I've met many of them, but if I had, I think this is what they would sound like. It's slightly formal, but also personable, and it works really well for the story you're trying to tell.

I also really love the emerging dynamic between the child and the god. It's so lovely, seeing this centuries old being trying to interact with this newly born child. Babies are lovely things, and they act in such a certain way that it's bound to bring out different reactions in some people. I'm curious about the way their dynamic is going to evolve, and if the god is going to actually begin to care for the child, or no. I can't wait to read more!

Specifics

The child sat there, chubby cheeks giving it a toad like appearance, but failed to laugh at my joke.


Toad like should be toad-like, I think.

"As a token of our former friendship,"

Ha.

"please accept this human child. I found him orphaned on the battlefield, and I couldn't bring myself to put him down. I hear 'orphaned by war' is an excellent origin story for villains these days. You always did have a flair for training the best."


I felt like this bit could be formatted better. I think it would be better served if you broke up the dialogue with em dashes instead of a comma and nothing. With that in mind, it would look like this:

"As a token of our former friendship—"

Ha.

"—please accept this human child. I found him orphaned on the battlefield, and I couldn't bring myself to put him down. I hear 'orphaned by war' is an excellent origin story for villains these days. You always did have a flair for training the best."


Other than that, this story looked pretty good, grammar wise.

Overall: lovely story! I love the budding dynamic between the two characters and am super excited to see what happens next!! Keep writing!




dragonfphoenix says...


Thanks! Yeah, there were a couple formatting issues. Once the story is finished, I'm planning on cleaning it up and self-publishing it. Glad you enjoyed the story :)




Light griefs are loquacious, but the great are dumb.
— Seneca