z
  • Home

Young Writers Society


16+ Language

The Many Gifts of Malia--Part 108: "The Ambrosia"

by dragonfphoenix


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

After collecting Thrax’s few possessions, mostly spare clothes and his celestial steel hammer, we met up with Malia and Hasda in my maas. Hasda wore his corrupted armor, though he looked far healthier than he had in months. The ugly purple weld remained but the djinn—Saran, if I remembered correctly—had muffled his aura. Surprisingly, the scabbard by Hasda’s side was bare. With how many practice swords he’d gone through, I’d have thought he’d want real steel in his hands again, but he didn’t even have a hunting knife in his belt.

Wings folded, Malia wore her War Bow strapped to her back. She glided across the flagstones, scales catching the early morning sunlight. Those weren’t the only things glistening, however. Her eyes had that scheming look again, and suddenly she was carrying a long, leather-swaddled bundle, a wineskin bouncing against her hip.

I paused, halfway through my portal. Thrax hadn’t noticed the change and went through without hesitating.

“Have my dashing looks left you starstruck again?” Malia flashed me a coy smile.

I grunted and snapped my portal shut. “The beacons of your eyes warn of an impending plot.”

Throwing her head back, she trilled a laugh that ended in another fang-filled smile. “Are my gifts truly so terrifying?”

“For those receiving them? Sometimes.” I grinned at her frown. “Who is the fortunate recipient this time?”

“Your verboseness lies near to mocking.” Sliding up to me, she snuck a kiss before turning to face Hasda, who’d followed her over. She set the bundle down and unfastened the wineskin. “The time has come.”

“Is that…?” I sniffed the air. Yep, definitely ambrosia.

“Don’t scowl like that.” She swatted my arm. “It’s diluted, and necessary for the second surprise.”

“What is it?” Hasda asked as Malia handed him the skin.

“Just taste it.” Malia gave him a reassuring smile.

Shrugging, Hasda raised the skin and downed the contents. His eyes watered a little, but he drank the whole without a fuss. When he finished, he wiped his mouth and handed the pouch back. “That was…strange. But not horrible.”

Malia and I waited for something to change.

Nothing happened.

No surge of power, no convulsions, no raving or foaming at the mouth. His muscles gained perhaps a hair of definition, but they didn’t inflate to ridiculous proportions. His abdomen likewise remained at its proper size and in its proper place.

I released a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. Not that I thought he would react poorly to ambrosia, but there was always the chance that he was allergic. Most mortals could handle diluted ambrosia, regardless of whether they’d visited Nebesa before. Usually they would be healed of defects, handicaps, and recent injuries. Sometimes, however, their mortal frame became confused instead of rejuvenated, going into overdrive as it grew in unintended ways. These were very rare cases and easily reversible with a god present, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience.

Hasda wasn’t even breathing hard. His training had conditioned him well, and I suspected the djinn’s influence had only increased his affinity for all things divine. A healthy glow permeated his skin, not enough to erase all of the paleness from his time with Saran and also not enough to make him literally luminescent. But his color returned. I hadn’t realized how much he’d lost until he got it back.

“Everything feel okay?” I smiled at his confused look. “No headaches? Double vision? Thick tongue?”

“It wasn’t poison, was it?” His eyes looked at the wineskin in disbelief. “My spine tingled a little, but that’s it. I thought it tasted fine, though.”

“That was mixed ambrosia.” Malia retrieved her bundle from the ground and slid next to Hasda. Looking him up and down, she nodded, satisfied that he’d handled the draught well. “Without it, this would steal your life force and permanently maim you.”

He had a stiffer spine than mine, not flinching away from the bundle as Malia disclosed its contents. Inside lay a silvery-blue blade, longer and thinner than a standard falcata, but less curved and not as wide. The cutting edges—half of the back and all of the front—had been sharpened to a fine point, and had scored the leather in several points as Malia had carried it. Phaeus had outdone himself on the curved hilt, substituting a serpent for the normal equestrian decoration. Something about the way the dwarf had crafted the ornamentation suggested a lamia, although I couldn’t put my finger on why I thought that until I realized that Phaeus had worked powdered green stone into the eyes: jade.

It was a worthy sword, most of all because it had been forged of an alloy of celestial steel. Its presence explained Malia’s insistence on the ambrosia before giving this gift.

As Hasda picked up the sword and admired its length, Malia said, “I had Phaeus fashion this with an alloy of mortal and celestial steel. You will find it more resilient than the blades you’ve been using, despite its lightness. Be wary, though. Even with only a quarter celestial steel, it will still drain you, so watch how fatigued you become while fighting with it.”

“It’s beautiful.” His eyes glistened. “Thank you.”

“As for you,” she continued, turning to Thrax, “my gift is far less flashy, but far more dangerous.” Dropping the leather, she revealed an ivory, plum-sized fruit. “Eat this in your time of greatest need, and only then. It will give you the strength of gods for a space, but it will tax you in mortal years for it. Don’t worry about misplacing it or carrying it with you, because it will be at hand when you have need of it.”

The burly man cupped it in his hands, bowing deeply. “The great goddess is too generous by far. I am humbled and deeply honored.”

Malia snorted. “Pray you are not deeply dead after you partake of it.”

I gave her a sideways look. “Where did you get a mushush? We razed every grove when we overthrew Seppo’s mother.”

“Every grove you found.” Her eyes sparkled. “And no, even if I let you waste my garden over it, you wouldn’t be able to exterminate the whole of the breed. I have eggs in other nests.”

That made me choke on my protest. “You laid another egg?”

Hissing, she smacked my shoulder. “I did no such thing. A turn of phrase, you thick-headed idiot.”

I grinned. “Well, if you haven’t, I could always help you make anoth—”

“Shut.” Putting a finger on my lips, she massaged the bridge of her nose. “Should’ve gotten you out of that bed earlier. Phemonoe was warned to keep your mind safe from fracturing, not brain rot.”

“Which reminds me.” I gave Hasda’s chestplate a stern look. “Djinn, we need to talk.”

A pair of eyes coalesced on the metal, the welt angled between them. “If you wish to chastise, I do not need to manifest to receive it.”

I shook my head. “Actually, I wanted to say that I appreciate whatever you’ve been doing. Hasda looks better than he has in a long time.”

Hasda opened his mouth to say something, but stopped. I wasn’t sure what that look was for, but he had a concerned look on his face.

The djinn’s eyes narrowed. “Ah, mockery. Well, I would appreciate being left to face such ridicule without my partial visage present.”

“You’re an ungrateful ass.” Malia snapped. “Charax does not lightly level praise, and you would do well not to spit in his face when he does.”

I set a hand on her arm. “What do you mean, mockery?”

The djinn rolled his eyes. “From where does his haleness hail? Bound by better than bond, which way do the scales balance?”

“Hasda?” I looked at him in askance.

He shrugged and rubbed his neck. “He has been withdrawing into the armor a lot, recently. He’s sick, or starving. I’m not sure what’s wrong.”

“Devoid of life, obstructed by oath, serving despite my sentence.” The djinn sounded hollow despite how full of bitterness he was.

“You can be obtuse in there or out here.” I folded my arms. “This is Hasda’s final Trial, so if you’re going to help him, you need to be in prime condition. And if you can’t, or won’t, I’ll keep you here so that he can focus fully.”

“Stupid, insolent, ignorant simpleton.” Saran came all the way out now, head, arms, and torso floating in front of Hasda. Practically a skeleton, his cheeks had deeply sunk, leaving his eyes bulging, and his peeled lips bared his teeth in a wasted leer. “How long have you meddled in the Sea Mother’s affairs, and you fail yet to grasp the significance of events dancing on your very eyelids?”

“Then explain it to me.”

“It is not that I am bound to armor which makes me what I am.” He thrust an angry finger at the warted metal. “How could you have pulled me from the killing field, and not realized?” He sneered, shaking his head. “Tuzshu were more than warriors because of the djinn they bonded with. Without their warriors, the tuzshu were incomplete, a half-form, yet without the djinni the tuzshu could not be.” He barked a laugh. “And I am tuzshu, through and through.”


Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
702 Reviews

Points: 87926
Reviews: 702

Donate
Sat Jul 15, 2023 5:58 pm
Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

Oh wow, lots of important developments going on in this. Hasda's first ambrosia (which. wow. If I recall correctly at once point, wasn't Charax, like, super against it? I get that what Hasda had in this chapter was a super diluted version of it, but still, Charax almost seemed too calm about Hasda ingesting it. I guess desperate times call for big measures like these, but it would have maybe been nice to lay out Charax's roadmap from "absolutely no ambrosia" to "fine maybe a little ambrosia") along with Malia's gifts, and then finishing with the djinn. Very excited to see how this final Trial is going to play out!

I'm very intrigued by the djinn in this chapter. I recall tuzshus being mentioned before (they even appeared in a chapter title) and so I went back and refreshed my memory. From this chapter, it definitely seems like maybe something's a little wonky with Hasda's bond with the djinn, or maybe the djinn is having some of its own issues. It was a little confusing in this chapter, but I'm hoping we'll get more clarity later on. Very interested to see if these rifts and problems with the djinn are going to interfere at all with the final Trial. It was also interesting to hear that Hasda's been looking better than he had when the djinn was stronger; curious if the djinn maybe had ulterior motives and him being not as strong is a good thing? Either way, I'm excited to find out!

Specifics

“Are my gifts truly so terrifying?”


I really like this moment of inserting the title (or something pertinent to the title) into the story.

Not that I thought he would react poorly to ambrosia, but there was always the chance that he was allergic.


This line made me laugh. For some reason, the idea of an ambrosia allergy is just very funny.

Something about the way the dwarf had crafted the ornamentation suggested a lamia, although I couldn’t put my finger on why I thought that until I realized that Phaeus had worked powdered green stone into the eyes: jade.


That is honestly super sweet, and I like how its permanence has the potential to grow; it could either become really tragic if something happens to Jade, or really awkward if they ever have a falling out. It's almost reminiscent of one of those name tattoos, but a lot less tacky. That aside, I honestly do love how you've described the weapon and I'm excited to see Hasda use it in battle.

That made me choke on my protest. “You laid another egg?”


Lol. Poor Charax.

Overall: nice work! You managed to pack a lot into this chapter, and I'm looking forward to hopefully getting more of an explanation on Hasda's djinn situation. Until next time!




User avatar
1524 Reviews

Points: 160172
Reviews: 1524

Donate
Mon Jun 19, 2023 2:32 pm
View Likes
IcyFlame wrote a review...



I'm back for 108! Let's get right into this part :)

After collecting Thrax’s few possessions, mostly spare clothes and his celestial steel hammer, we met up with Malia and Hasda in my maas.

If Charax didn't want to talk with Thrax separately, could he not have sent someone to go and fetch him? The last section seems a bit more like filler if he wasn't going there for more of a purpose. Or was it to see Thrax in action?

I grunted and snapped my portal shut. “The beacons of your eyes warn of an impending plot.”

Haha I like this as a fancy way to say she looks suspicious. Have they trapped Thrax through the portal? xD

Throwing her head back, she trilled a laugh that ended in another fang-filled smile. “Are my gifts truly so terrifying?”

Love the reference to the title

I've just read further, and I now realise Charax was closing the portal behind him, but for the whole time until Thrax was mentioned again I was convinced they'd let him go through, then Charax had shut the portal to chat with Malia in private and they'd simply forgotten Thrax was the other side...

He shrugged and rubbed his neck. “He has been withdrawing into the armor a lot, recently. He’s sick, or starving. I’m not sure what’s wrong.”

Why hasn't Hasda said something about this already, given all the trouble they went through with the djinn earlier? I would expect him to have told someone there was a problem!

I, as usual, found the djinn's speech to be much harder to follow than everyone else's. I reread it a couple of times but then ended up hoping I'd figure it out later if I needed to. I'm not sure how hard you're trying to make him to follow, so if what he's saying needs to be understood it would maybe help for one of the other characters to make a clarifying statement.

Overall though, this was a good part and I'm interested to see how the two champions continue to approach training. I can't quite work out how the dynamic between them is supposed to be - are they rivals or can they train together to both succeed?

Two more parts to go!

Icy




dragonfphoenix says...


Hasda has been with the djinn a long time, and they've had plenty of conversations with each other. It's not really spelled out what, but Hasda has a better idea of what's going on than Charax and Co. do.



User avatar
54 Reviews

Points: 9805
Reviews: 54

Donate
Sun May 14, 2023 1:25 am
MerleBlackbird wrote a review...



This is definitely not my usual genre but I was nonetheless impressed! I can tell you're a very experienced writer. Your use of words is quite impressive, and the story you tell is vivid--particularly with respect to your characters and how you use dialogue. I also admire how, although I'm just jumping into the story without reading the previous chapters, I can quickly gain an understanding for the characters just by reading their conversation. You make excellent use of small descriptors without info dumping. You seem to have a very effective balance between dialogue and action which carries the story very well - I somewhat envy that. It's very difficult to write such interesting and well-developed conversation while still advancing the plot and carrying the characters forward in the story. Although your dialogue is very strong, what you write between the dialogue is equally compelling. Ahem, that was a lot of words to say something rather simple: although this genre is not really up my alley and the storyline somewhat goes over my head because I haven't read the previous chapters, your writing was so impressive, I did not find this boring. Incredible job!





Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve.
— J.K. Rowling