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The Many Gifts of Malia--Part 10: "The King"

by dragonfphoenix


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

Malia batted her eyes as she angled towards me. “See Seppo? What for?”

“You know very well what for,” I grumbled, twisting to keep out of her reach. “You ruined my forest, and I could barely get the portal open with how badly you damaged its life force.”

“Well, Hasda asked to see my powers in action, and who am I to deny such a request?” She smiled in her approximation of charming, but it set off every predator alarm in my being. “I am, after all, a generous goddess.”

I bopped her on the nose with her loosely rolled-up letter. She blinked and looked stunned. “You don’t have a generous bone in your body, is what I would have said, if I hadn’t read this.” I wagged the scroll at her and frowned. “And don’t think I’m so old that I can’t see what you’re doing.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.” She cracked a smile and leaned back, flaring her wings for balance as she rent a purple portal in the air. Particles of energy fizzed like sparklers as the portal flared to life. As we went through, she managed to snake her arm around mine and, with a self-satisfied smile, tugged me into the halls of Maas Bierg, aka Nebesa proper.

The celestial hall of the gods was a varied affair. The floating plazas, the Maas, of the heavenly realm could be tailored to each god’s specific needs, plus the more general purpose ones that served as meeting grounds, feasting halls, and lounging parks. Maas Bierg, being the home of the head god, had grown into a veritable metropolis over the years. Pillared, white-marbled temples served as divine motels, ringed by houses with bright red roofs and sweeping courtyards, for the mortal and semi-divine servants of the visiting gods.

Lush trees, some fruit-bearing and others merely for shade or decoration, dotted the landscape. Roads paved with smooth stones connected all the buildings in a winding network that wound its way up the gently sloping hill to terminate at the steps of the ziggurat that crowned the hill. Despite the clearly non-Grecian influence on the architecture, Seppo had yet to formally acknowledge or establish ties with its progeniting pantheon. At least, not since the last time I’d been here, but based on the features of all the faces I saw as we made our way up the road, it didn’t look like much had changed. Only Carthians, gods and mortals of my former pantheon, roamed the streets of Maas Bierg.

Despite her shorter stature, Malia bore herself as if I were the trophy partner. Beaming smiles at all we passed, she murmured polite greetings and waved to those out of talking distance. When I tried tugging on her arm to get her attention, she whacked me on the back of the head with her wing and muttered an oops behind her hand, trying not especially hard to keep from grinning about what was clearly not an accident.

“Will you stop parading about,” I hissed at her. “We’re going to talk to Seppo about your little infraction, not your victory speech.”

“We’ll see about that,” she whispered back, eyes on a minor deity, a minotaur, who was fawning at her in overt efforts to curry favor and potentially advance his station. She basked in his adoration for a moment before turning her gaze to the next insignificant godling hoping to latch onto a full-fledged deity.

“Despite what you might think,” I said, “I’m only here to file my complaint and leave. Your letter was very touching, and quite frankly I’m shocked at your offer, but it’s not going to work, and why can’t you just leave an old man in peace?”

“Oh, come now.” She batted my arm with her free hand and flashed her teeth at me. “You can’t honestly tell me that peace suits you. Retirement has only made you more crotchety because it’s forced you to realize that you really don’t want to go out any other way than in a blaze of glory, but you’re a stubborn, pig-headed old fool who won’t admit that inaction is making you cranky and miserable. You’re going to be relaxed, gods damn it, even if you have to bully yourself into enjoying it.”

I gritted my teeth, said nothing, and silently cursed myself anew for letting that meddlesome woman so far into my head all those centuries ago. This was, what, only our second conversation in decades? And yet I could already feel myself being wound around her finger again.

“Don’t sulk,” she said, ribbing me.

“I’m not,” I grumbled.

“You are.” Her eyes sparkled. “You’ve even got that pouty tone in your voice.”

I clamped my lips shut and refused to rise to her jibes for the rest of the trip. She quickly grew bored and went back to bathing in the adulations of the minor gods. It wasn’t long before we reached the base of the ziggurat staircase, which was guarded by a pair of Spartans wearing bronze armor and helmets, the red plumes of their helmets the same bright shade as the chevrons on their shields. They uncrossed their spears to admit us, bowing at the waist as Malia passed. I shivered as I felt their eyes on my back, my hand itching for a sword. But they meant us no ill will, and soon the feeling passed.

The staircase took us a long time to ascend, and by the top even Malia was panting and cursing the climb. When I teased her about her age catching up with her, she merely glared at me and flapped her wings once.

“Next time I’m flying and waiting for you at the top.”

I grinned. “And risk me slipping away from you?”

“Ooh, think you’re so clever, do you?” She folded her arms as we approached the temple atop the ziggurat. “If you’ve recovered your foresight into my machinations, how are you regaining your lost powers so quickly?”

I scowled. “You somehow slipped me ambrosia, even though I was looking for it.”

The glint in her eyes was both annoying and disturbing. “Ah, you really think me that simple?”

“Then what did you do?”

She gave me a devilish smile. “That’s my little secret. Ah, it looks like we’re expected!”

Before I could protest, she dashed ahead to the Spartans waiting to escort us into Seppo’s throne room. Bouncing next to them like an eager puppy, she folded her wings against her back and impatiently urged me on. The guards bore her antics more patiently than I. Expressions impassive behind their faceplates, they stood at relaxed attention and swiveled in place as we passed them and entered the temple.

Although the outside was little more than a glorified stone box, the inside opened up into expansive heavens. A bright blue sky arched overhead, and underneath the stone floor transformed into an endless cloud that stretched the horizons. The larger interior was Seppo’s life work, as he continued to pack as much extra dimension into the space as he could. Why, who knew, but the cloud had a few extra acres since the last time I’d walked it.

Across the cotton field of water vapor stood a crowd of mythical beasts, avians and chimeras and sphinxes. In their midst stood a muscular man with skin so bronze it was almost indistinguishable from the exoskeleton he’d molded to his frame. When he noticed us, he muttered something to the surrounding beasts and waved them away. Bleating their veneration, they disappeared in puffs of clouds, leaving Seppo alone.

His audience dismissed, he clanked over to us, the pistons of his exoskeleton sliding and hissing. Long ago, Seppo experienced an unfortunate accident at the hands of his mother that had left at least one of his limbs mangled. With his artistry in metalworking, he’d devised his supporting frame to return almost all of his lost mobility, and the bands of metal had helped his injuries heal so that only he knew whether it’d been his arms or legs that had once been warped.

Malia tucked her wings down and nestled against me, grinning mischievously.

“What are you…?” I whispered, but she shushed me.

Apparently, Seppo’s eyesight had been declining, because it wasn’t until he was a couple dozen paces from us when he pulled up with a curse. Spinning on his heel, he clanked back the way he’d come, shouting angrily. “I already told you, Malia. It works! Stop bothering me. And take your lover’s quarrel somewhere else.”

“I’m sorry?” I said, not quite comprehending. Seppo had always had trouble with love in the...well, since always. Romance was a touchy subject around him. But I failed to see how that applied to my situation.

Which I hadn’t even told him about yet.

I squinted down at Malia, who gave me a triumphant smile. “What did you do?”

She laughed and patted my arm. “He already knows about the forest, dear. I told him I was going to do that.”

“You told him, and he let you?” I tried to pull out of her grip, but she wouldn’t let go.

“Don’t be such a baby. You haven’t even heard the best part yet.”

Seppo’s metallic footsteps echoed across the open space, punctuating her words with grating clanks.

Shaking my head, I frowned at her. “How could you possibly top that?”

The moment the words left my mouth, I knew I’d messed up. Might as well have signed my surrender in my own blood. She smiled in a way that accentuated her fangs, a look that had always preceded lots of biting and, ahem, “grown immortals” time in the past.

“I’m glad you asked,” she said, her words sibilant. “I told him it was a gorgon mating ritual.”

I blinked. “You what?”


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Mon May 24, 2021 7:32 am
KateHardy wrote a review...



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

Hi! I'm baaack...I think I've officially completed one third of this now.....soo...two thirds to go I guess...still loving reading through this just as much as when I started so that does mean this truly is an amazing story. :D

First Impression: Ahhh...this chapter...I cannot...its just ahh...chock full of amazing humor and that ending...well...lemme get to gushing about this in more detail down below.

Anyway let's get right to it,

Malia batted her eyes as she angled towards me. “See Seppo? What for?”

“You know very well what for,” I grumbled, twisting to keep out of her reach. “You ruined my forest, and I could barely get the portal open with how badly you damaged its life force.”

“Well, Hasda asked to see my powers in action, and who am I to deny such a request?” She smiled in her approximation of charming, but it set off every predator alarm in my being. “I am, after all, a generous goddess.”


Oh dear...well...this is going to be a very interesting complaint here...if he ever manages to escape from here and go give said complaint that is.

I bopped her on the nose with her loosely rolled-up letter. She blinked and looked stunned. “You don’t have a generous bone in your body, is what I would have said, if I hadn’t read this.” I wagged the scroll at her and frowned. “And don’t think I’m so old that I can’t see what you’re doing.”


Well...that's a fair point there.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.” She cracked a smile and leaned back, flaring her wings for balance as she rent a purple portal in the air. Particles of energy fizzed like sparklers as the portal flared to life. As we went through, she managed to snake her arm around mine and, with a self-satisfied smile, tugged me into the halls of Maas Bierg, aka Nebesa proper.


Ahh...well, she's not giving up without a fight at all.

The celestial hall of the gods was a varied affair. The floating plazas, the Maas, of the heavenly realm could be tailored to each god’s specific needs, plus the more general purpose ones that served as meeting grounds, feasting halls, and lounging parks. Maas Bierg, being the home of the head god, had grown into a veritable metropolis over the years. Pillared, white-marbled temples served as divine motels, ringed by houses with bright red roofs and sweeping courtyards, for the mortal and semi-divine servants of the visiting gods.

Lush trees, some fruit-bearing and others merely for shade or decoration, dotted the landscape. Roads paved with smooth stones connected all the buildings in a winding network that wound its way up the gently sloping hill to terminate at the steps of the ziggurat that crowned the hill. Despite the clearly non-Grecian influence on the architecture, Seppo had yet to formally acknowledge or establish ties with its progeniting pantheon. At least, not since the last time I’d been here, but based on the features of all the faces I saw as we made our way up the road, it didn’t look like much had changed. Only Carthians, gods and mortals of my former pantheon, roamed the streets of Maas Bierg.


Ahh...that's some nice descriptions right there...definitely getting across the splendor of the place there...you can tell this is definitely very much a divine city here...and it does a wonderful job just setting the scene for what unfolds next here.

Despite her shorter stature, Malia bore herself as if I were the trophy partner. Beaming smiles at all we passed, she murmured polite greetings and waved to those out of talking distance. When I tried tugging on her arm to get her attention, she whacked me on the back of the head with her wing and muttered an oops behind her hand, trying not especially hard to keep from grinning about what was clearly not an accident.


Ahh this is just so much fun to read right now...I know we're technically support to root for poor Charax here but not gonna lie I'm kinda finding myself supporting Malia here...she's just a really fun character that's proving to be my favorite so far.

“Will you stop parading about,” I hissed at her. “We’re going to talk to Seppo about your little infraction, not your victory speech.”

“We’ll see about that,” she whispered back, eyes on a minor deity, a minotaur, who was fawning at her in overt efforts to curry favor and potentially advance his station. She basked in his adoration for a moment before turning her gaze to the next insignificant godling hoping to latch onto a full-fledged deity.


Well...she definitely is going to do here best not to get reported for the infraction I suppose.

“Despite what you might think,” I said, “I’m only here to file my complaint and leave. Your letter was very touching, and quite frankly I’m shocked at your offer, but it’s not going to work, and why can’t you just leave an old man in peace?”


Hmm...well he is being completely honest...I do like seeing that.

“Oh, come now.” She batted my arm with her free hand and flashed her teeth at me. “You can’t honestly tell me that peace suits you. Retirement has only made you more crotchety because it’s forced you to realize that you really don’t want to go out any other way than in a blaze of glory, but you’re a stubborn, pig-headed old fool who won’t admit that inaction is making you cranky and miserable. You’re going to be relaxed, gods damn it, even if you have to bully yourself into enjoying it.”


Okay...well...here we go...she's trying all the tactics here...the mind games part two I see...or did part one never really end....*dramatic music plays*

I gritted my teeth, said nothing, and silently cursed myself anew for letting that meddlesome woman so far into my head all those centuries ago. This was, what, only our second conversation in decades? And yet I could already feel myself being wound around her finger again.

“Don’t sulk,” she said, ribbing me.

“I’m not,” I grumbled.

“You are.” Her eyes sparkled. “You’ve even got that pouty tone in your voice.”


Ooof well he is going to have his work cut out for him to survive this trip here without being pulled away from his retirement.

I clamped my lips shut and refused to rise to her jibes for the rest of the trip. She quickly grew bored and went back to bathing in the adulations of the minor gods. It wasn’t long before we reached the base of the ziggurat staircase, which was guarded by a pair of Spartans wearing bronze armor and helmets, the red plumes of their helmets the same bright shade as the chevrons on their shields. They uncrossed their spears to admit us, bowing at the waist as Malia passed. I shivered as I felt their eyes on my back, my hand itching for a sword. But they meant us no ill will, and soon the feeling passed.


Oooh...itching for a sword....now...how bad is that going to end up being.

The staircase took us a long time to ascend, and by the top even Malia was panting and cursing the climb. When I teased her about her age catching up with her, she merely glared at me and flapped her wings once.

“Next time I’m flying and waiting for you at the top.”

I grinned. “And risk me slipping away from you?”


Oooh two can play at the game I see... ;)

“Ooh, think you’re so clever, do you?” She folded her arms as we approached the temple atop the ziggurat. “If you’ve recovered your foresight into my machinations, how are you regaining your lost powers so quickly?”

I scowled. “You somehow slipped me ambrosia, even though I was looking for it.”


Hmm....well we can test that theory right here and now I suppose...that would be nice...

The glint in her eyes was both annoying and disturbing. “Ah, you really think me that simple?”

“Then what did you do?”

She gave me a devilish smile. “That’s my little secret. Ah, it looks like we’re expected!”


Hmmm....well that theory appears to be a fail...although she could of course just be line...its not like she's exactly the most trustworthy person here.

Before I could protest, she dashed ahead to the Spartans waiting to escort us into Seppo’s throne room. Bouncing next to them like an eager puppy, she folded her wings against her back and impatiently urged me on. The guards bore her antics more patiently than I. Expressions impassive behind their faceplates, they stood at relaxed attention and swiveled in place as we passed them and entered the temple.


I suppose the guards have probably gotten a bit used to that.

Although the outside was little more than a glorified stone box, the inside opened up into expansive heavens. A bright blue sky arched overhead, and underneath the stone floor transformed into an endless cloud that stretched the horizons. The larger interior was Seppo’s life work, as he continued to pack as much extra dimension into the space as he could. Why, who knew, but the cloud had a few extra acres since the last time I’d walked it.


Well that is definitely a very interesting interior design strategy but it definitely fits the person who's supposed the head of the gods I suppose....it does make quite a statement.

Across the cotton field of water vapor stood a crowd of mythical beasts, avians and chimeras and sphinxes. In their midst stood a muscular man with skin so bronze it was almost indistinguishable from the exoskeleton he’d molded to his frame. When he noticed us, he muttered something to the surrounding beasts and waved them away. Bleating their veneration, they disappeared in puffs of clouds, leaving Seppo alone.


Hmm...definitely some neat description there as well.

His audience dismissed, he clanked over to us, the pistons of his exoskeleton sliding and hissing. Long ago, Seppo experienced an unfortunate accident at the hands of his mother that had left at least one of his limbs mangled. With his artistry in metalworking, he’d devised his supporting frame to return almost all of his lost mobility, and the bands of metal had helped his injuries heal so that only he knew whether it’d been his arms or legs that had once been warped.


Well...that seems like quite a backstory on that guy there.

Malia tucked her wings down and nestled against me, grinning mischievously.

“What are you…?” I whispered, but she shushed me.

Apparently, Seppo’s eyesight had been declining, because it wasn’t until he was a couple dozen paces from us when he pulled up with a curse. Spinning on his heel, he clanked back the way he’d come, shouting angrily. “I already told you, Malia. It works! Stop bothering me. And take your lover’s quarrel somewhere else.”


Uh oh...looks like Malia did some pre planning on that one there if Seppo immediately reacts like that.

“I’m sorry?” I said, not quite comprehending. Seppo had always had trouble with love in the...well, since always. Romance was a touchy subject around him. But I failed to see how that applied to my situation.

Which I hadn’t even told him about yet.


Oh dear...well let's what nefarious deeds have been planned out this time.

I squinted down at Malia, who gave me a triumphant smile. “What did you do?”

She laughed and patted my arm. “He already knows about the forest, dear. I told him I was going to do that.”

“You told him, and he let you?” I tried to pull out of her grip, but she wouldn’t let go.

“Don’t be such a baby. You haven’t even heard the best part yet.”


Oh yeah..she was definitely prepared....well...let's see what that part is...oh gosh.

Seppo’s metallic footsteps echoed across the open space, punctuating her words with grating clanks.

Shaking my head, I frowned at her. “How could you possibly top that?”

The moment the words left my mouth, I knew I’d messed up. Might as well have signed my surrender in my own blood. She smiled in a way that accentuated her fangs, a look that had always preceded lots of biting and, ahem, “grown immortals” time in the past.

“I’m glad you asked,” she said, her words sibilant. “I told him it was a gorgon mating ritual.”

I blinked. “You what?”


Oh boy...she really went all out on that one...well...looks like that's a win for Malia there on those mind games...oh dear...I want to feel sorry for Charax but honestly at this point...I love this turn of events.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overalll...another lovely chapter...and well...this is set to get interesting......woohoo...well...moving onto the next one now...

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

Stay Safe
Harry




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Fri May 14, 2021 6:49 pm
SoullessGinger says...



God, Malia makes me angry. But I guess that's the point, isn't it. Let me just say, you are amazing at getting a reader to feel Charax's emotions.




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Sat Mar 13, 2021 4:08 am
Spearmint wrote a review...



Hi, it's Spearmint again! Let's get started with this review...

She cracked a smile and leaned back, flaring her wings for balance as she rent a purple portal in the air. Particles of energy fizzed like sparklers as the portal flared to life.

Excellent description here as usual! Also I noticed that Malia's portal color is purple, which is a color commonly associated with royalty and ambition (at least from my experience). So to me it feels like purple is the perfect color for Malia ^_^

The celestial hall of the gods was a varied affair. The floating plazas, the Maas, of the heavenly realm could be tailored to each god’s specific needs, plus the more general purpose ones that served as meeting grounds, feasting halls, and lounging parks.

Like Plume said, it was really cool to read about a new place-- and the "celestial hall of the gods," no less! And is it just me, or do you also think it'd be awesome to see a picture or movie depicting this scene?

She gave me a devilish smile. “That’s my little secret.

:eyes: Hmm... I'm definitely intrigued by this... How did Malia cause Charax to regain his powers? *starts coming up with wild theories* XD

and underneath the stone floor transformed into an endless cloud that stretched the horizons.

Oooh I love this detail! It really emphasizes the fact that this is a home of deities. :]

Seppo’s metallic footsteps echoed across the open space, punctuating her words with grating clanks.

Okay, I'm a little confused. How can footsteps clank across clouds? Are the clouds themselves hard? Or are Seppo's various metal parts just clanking against each other? Just a super small thing c:

Overall this was another amazing chapter and I'm definitely excited for the next one. Have a great weekend and keep writing! :D




dragonfphoenix says...


Thanks! Catching up on reviews so here we go

Ooh, I hadn't thought about cinematography for this, but it would be fun.

Malia has her ways ;)

Seppo clanks. A lot. XD



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Fri Mar 12, 2021 2:50 pm
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Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

This chapter was super interesting! (I feel like I say that every time, but it's true!) I always have a lovely time reading your work. I enjoyed going into the realm of the gods very much, and the way the progression of events happened in this was very fun.

One thing I absolutely adored about this chapter was the rich description! I feel like we haven't seen Charax in a new place for a while, which didn't give as much time for descriptions because they wouldn't have been necessary, but this chapter really gave your prowess a time to shine. Your language and word choice is so rich and beautiful. I really loved reading it. I especially liked the part about Seppo. I think he's such an interesting character, even based on his physical design alone.

I also really enjoyed the banter between Malia and Charax. Their dynamic is so fun. You definitely encapsulated the sort of ex-lovers/witty centuries-old beings in their dialogue, which you should be proud of! The ending especially.... I wonder what Malia's intentions are. She's such a devious character, but also so interesting... I can't decide whether I should love her or hate her. It takes a lot of work to create such complex characters, and I applaud you!

Specifics

“Will you stop parading about,” I hissed at her. “We’re going to talk to Seppo about your little infraction, not your victory speech.”


I think that "Will you stop parading about" needs a question mark after it. To me, it just feels weird with a comma.

Seppo had always had trouble with love in the...well, since always.


I thought that this was a little redundant, since you start the sentence by saying "Seppo had always had trouble with love" and then end it with the "since always." The repetition of "always" is redundant to me, but if you wanted to preserve the sentence structure (since I do like the way you've structured the sentence) you could say "Seppo had had trouble with love since the.... well, since always."

Overall: nice job! I though this chapter gave your descriptive skills a time to shine, and it also served really well to further build the relationship between Charax and Malia. I look forward to reading more!!




dragonfphoenix says...


Thanks! Charax and Malia are a really fun duo to write. Clean up, as always, will be put in a nice little bag for future Dragon to clean up XD




Stupidity's the deliberate cultivation of ignorance.
— William Gaddis