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The Many Gifts of Malia--Part 14: "The Hall"

by dragonfphoenix


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

Evening came, and with it the sounds and smells of a feast in the Long Hall. As we approached the Hall, which was an open-roofed, pillared temple, we were bombarded with the smells of roast boar, sizzling steak, and grilled mutton. The aroma of ambrosia mixed with the heady scents of wines, most of which were tangy, grape-based vintages but I could smell strawberry, apple, and cherry mixed in. One softer blend stood out from the rest, a flat pear smell spiced up with raspberry.

I grinned. No insignificant feast was ever graced with one of Loutro’s new concoctions. Seppo must have high hopes for the lad, if he had asked Loutro to brew up something special. Malia must have had the same thought, because her brow quirked up and her eyes found mine as soon as she smelled it. I nodded. “If you’re asking, I’ve never tasted that one.”

She laughed. “I suppose you should be asking me. It must be new, then. A good sign.”

“What’s new?” Hasda asked. Walking between us, he positively flashed in his robes, which were royal purple with a golden sash.

“You’ll see soon enough,” Malia said, smiling mysteriously.

Even though this was his feast and he was the guest of honor, I still refused to let him go about half-naked in a toga. I wanted to keep the more experienced mortal women of Nebesa off him as long as possible, and those pesky minor goddess flirts as well. He could play that game when he had his feet under him, but for now he needed to focus on the task at hand. Despite being rather free with his body growing up in the forest, he seemed uncomfortable under the unfamiliar, searching eyes of the women we passed and kept tugging the shoulders of his robes up. And who could blame him? They looked like lionesses stalking their next kill.

Malia put a hand on his elbow. Face straight ahead, she whispered out of the side of her mouth, “Ignore the harpies. You can do far better than those gutter scum.”

Hasda peeked around behind her wings, his face scrunched up. “Those are harpies? I see elves...centaurs...that one looks normal but I think that’s a Selkie skin over her shoulder.”

“Metaphor, Hasda,” she said, tugging him along. “Although you will see some actual avians at the feast this evening. Seppo is especially fond of having harpies airlift seafood straight to his plate.”

We made it into the Hall without Hasda getting too much more flustered. Inside, the long, mahogany table was piled high with fresh fruits and vegetables, open spaces left at intervals for the coming roasts. The feasting table could seat hundreds, since it had to accommodate the dozens of major and minor gods in Nebesa, as well as their mortal servants significant enough to merit a seat at the divine table. Out of sight down the hill was the Mortal Hall, which held the table where less significant mortals and disgraced minor gods would feast during the major holidays. No smoke wafted into sight, so today’s feast would only merit the main pantheon and interested minor deities, at most.

At the moment, only Seppo sat at the table, lounging comfortably at the head, all the way on the other end of the Hall. Satyrs milled about like ants, arranging cornucopias, bringing place settings, and preparing the platters for the grilled meats. The leafy avatars of dryads fluttered along behind the scruffy goat people, critiquing their produce arrangements and badgering them about silverware order that none of the gods respected anyways. It was nice to see some things never changed.

We navigated down the left side of the table, careful to stay out of the way of the satyrs and dryads. With the table wide enough to seat three across at the head, Hasda had been given a place at Seppo’s right hand, the left reserved for his future wife, should he ever wed one. The place had been set and left empty for as long as I could remember. Malia and I would be right next to Hasda at the first two seats on his right, the left side of the table. As we neared our seats, Seppo smiled and straightened in his.

“Ah, so we finally get to meet Charax’s Annointed One. A fine lad, if a bit underclad.”

Hasda bowed, both to show respect and cover his bewilderment. “Thank you, Your Grace.”

“His armor is being repaired by Phaeus,” Malia said. “It will be ready in time for the trial, though.”

“That’s, er, good.” Seppo reclined and looked uncomfortable. “We wouldn’t want him going in unarmed, now, would we?”

“Of course not.” Malia’s voice was sweet.

Seppo shifted and glanced away. “Right. Er, please, be seated.”

I had no idea what had Seppo so unsettled until I pulled out my seat and noticed the warmth on my arm. Malia had threaded her hand around my elbow again. It was a comfortable, familiar feeling, and I’d paid it no attention. Poor Seppo.

“Do try to be cordial to our host,” I hissed under my breath as we took our seats.

She gave me a coy smile and released my arm as she coiled up in her chair. “Of course, dear.”

I grunted and gave her a stern look. She never behaved, and at an event as important as Hasda’s inaugural quest, I’d trust her not to start scheming about as much as I trusted Hasda not to get lost in Nebesa, staggering around in awestruck wonder. Which was extremely likely, because the lad was ogling Seppo’s exoskeleton with the rapt attention a toddler gave a shiny beetle. The pistons hissed and pumped as Seppo spread his arms wide, regaling the lad with tales of his exploits and engineering accomplishments.

Hasda was safe in Seppo’s hands. The head god was arguably more lonely than I was, despite the constant demands for his attention, and he liked to brag. What god didn’t? But Seppo spoke in a straightforward manner. If Malia was the goddess of machinations, Seppo was the god of plain-faced truths. And the Carthians hadn’t had a sponsored hero embark on trials in several generations, so the old god wanted to dote while he had the chance.

“Sorry I’m late!” A pale goddess burst in through the pillars opposite us, stumbling to a halt behind a seat across the table. I didn’t recognize her, but she looked young, so I wasn’t surprised. Her emerald green chiton was surprisingly modest, the cloth flapping around her thin legs as she brought herself to an awkward stop. “I am late, right? Oh, I do hope not.”

“Hello, Jade,” Malia said, voice cool. Her face looked guarded, which was unusual.

“Hi, Malia. Hello, Seppo. Who’s this?” She tilted her head at Hasda. “Is he the new champion? He must be. Hi, I’m Jade.” She extended her hand across the table, but it didn’t even reach Seppo, let alone the lad. Flushing, she jerked her hand back and hurried around the table, apologizing to Seppo as she bumped into the back of his seat. “It’s been a while since we’ve had a champion in Nebesa. I heard you’re sponsored. Who is your patron?”

“Are,” Malia corrected. “Who ‘are’ your patrons. That would be Charax and I.”

“Oh wow.” Jade’s eyes went wide as she finally noticed me. She flitted around Hasda to stand right next to me, a little too close for my liking. Her sharp eyes matched the color of her dress, they were intense, and they were very much in my face. She didn’t mean anything by it, but I still heard Malia’s annoyed hiss behind me. “You’re really old, aren’t you?”

I coughed. “And you’re obviously new. Are you still wet behind the ears, or have you graduated yet?”

“Full goddess, almost finished with my first century. But, wow, are you really that ancient god Charax?” She tilted her head. “I thought you’d be more wrinkly.”

“He’s recovering from an early retirement, so all his wrinkles are on his heart,” Malia said, a hand on my arm as she leaned over to catch Jade’s eye. Her serpents tickled me ear as they flicked their tongues. “But your academy training is out of date. He’s a seated god again.”

“Really?” Her mouth fell open, she was so excited. If Nebesa suddenly lost its gravity, she’d shoot through the stars with all that energy. It was strangely refreshing, her enthusiasm. “Wow. We haven’t had a god abandon retirement since, well, I don’t know. The Anals don’t mention that ever happening.”

“It’s happened a couple times before,” I said. “Well before your time. The last one barely reached mine.”

“Really? What happened?”

“Well, there was this crusty old badger, nasty fellow,” I said, settling in for a good yarn. “And he—”

“There was a badger god?” Jade said, eyes lighting up. “That’s so cool.”

“No, as in, a grumpy old fart,” I said, frowning. “Now, he had this dame who was a total pain in the ass, and she kept pestering the whole time he was supposed to be retired, so he eventually came back so he’d have the divine strength to endure her nagging.”

Malia slapped my arm affectionately. “You’re thinking of yourself, you old sack.”

“Huh, I guess I am.” I smiled at her.

Jade gave us both confused looks. “So you used to be a badger?”

“Never.”

“Aww.” She sagged a little, but then she perked back up. “Well, it’s always cool seeing a living relic.”

I blinked.

“Anyways, I’m going to find my seat before I say something I’m not supposed to. Seppo was afraid I’d run my mouth and spoil that Hasda—”

“Jade!” Seppo thundered, his arm augments clinking as he thumped the table.

“Whoops!” She jumped and darted off, scurrying around the dryads and satyrs as she made her escape. Seppo hadn’t even gotten to his feet before she’d vanished out of the Hall. Sighing, the old god settled back into his seat and resumed his conversation with Hasda.


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Mon May 24, 2021 9:15 am
KateHardy wrote a review...



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

Hi! I'm Harry...yes, him...again...here for I think this is the halfway point if I finish this one off...well...without further ado....

First Impression: Oooh..well....loving this new Jade character...also looks like this here trial is going to be quite a juicy one...well...I'm sure this story won't disappoint, it hasn't done so yet.

Anyway let's get right to it,

Evening came, and with it the sounds and smells of a feast in the Long Hall. As we approached the Hall, which was an open-roofed, pillared temple, we were bombarded with the smells of roast boar, sizzling steak, and grilled mutton. The aroma of ambrosia mixed with the heady scents of wines, most of which were tangy, grape-based vintages but I could smell strawberry, apple, and cherry mixed in. One softer blend stood out from the rest, a flat pear smell spiced up with raspberry.


Ahh...this is now making me far hungry....oh dear...the description of the food is too good...its too much....*runs off to steal something from fridge*

I grinned. No insignificant feast was ever graced with one of Loutro’s new concoctions. Seppo must have high hopes for the lad, if he had asked Loutro to brew up something special. Malia must have had the same thought, because her brow quirked up and her eyes found mine as soon as she smelled it. I nodded. “If you’re asking, I’ve never tasted that one.”

She laughed. “I suppose you should be asking me. It must be new, then. A good sign.”


Hmm...well...new concoctions always lead to fun things....so that should be interesting.

“What’s new?” Hasda asked. Walking between us, he positively flashed in his robes, which were royal purple with a golden sash.

“You’ll see soon enough,” Malia said, smiling mysteriously.

Even though this was his feast and he was the guest of honor, I still refused to let him go about half-naked in a toga. I wanted to keep the more experienced mortal women of Nebesa off him as long as possible, and those pesky minor goddess flirts as well. He could play that game when he had his feet under him, but for now he needed to focus on the task at hand. Despite being rather free with his body growing up in the forest, he seemed uncomfortable under the unfamiliar, searching eyes of the women we passed and kept tugging the shoulders of his robes up. And who could blame him? They looked like lionesses stalking their next kill.


Oh dear...the poor guy....good thing he managed to secure himself a robe then...

Malia put a hand on his elbow. Face straight ahead, she whispered out of the side of her mouth, “Ignore the harpies. You can do far better than those gutter scum.”

Hasda peeked around behind her wings, his face scrunched up. “Those are harpies? I see elves...centaurs...that one looks normal but I think that’s a Selkie skin over her shoulder.”


Oh gosh...poor guy taking this literally....

“Metaphor, Hasda,” she said, tugging him along. “Although you will see some actual avians at the feast this evening. Seppo is especially fond of having harpies airlift seafood straight to his plate.”


Well I suppose as the head, he does get to do that.

We made it into the Hall without Hasda getting too much more flustered. Inside, the long, mahogany table was piled high with fresh fruits and vegetables, open spaces left at intervals for the coming roasts. The feasting table could seat hundreds, since it had to accommodate the dozens of major and minor gods in Nebesa, as well as their mortal servants significant enough to merit a seat at the divine table. Out of sight down the hill was the Mortal Hall, which held the table where less significant mortals and disgraced minor gods would feast during the major holidays. No smoke wafted into sight, so today’s feast would only merit the main pantheon and interested minor deities, at most.


Hmm..now that's a decent bit of background info there as we're introduced to everyone who might be present at the feast. That's a pretty neat addition to the story there.

At the moment, only Seppo sat at the table, lounging comfortably at the head, all the way on the other end of the Hall. Satyrs milled about like ants, arranging cornucopias, bringing place settings, and preparing the platters for the grilled meats. The leafy avatars of dryads fluttered along behind the scruffy goat people, critiquing their produce arrangements and badgering them about silverware order that none of the gods respected anyways. It was nice to see some things never changed.


Well...some things definitely don't change between stories about gods...xD

We navigated down the left side of the table, careful to stay out of the way of the satyrs and dryads. With the table wide enough to seat three across at the head, Hasda had been given a place at Seppo’s right hand, the left reserved for his future wife, should he ever wed one. The place had been set and left empty for as long as I could remember. Malia and I would be right next to Hasda at the first two seats on his right, the left side of the table. As we neared our seats, Seppo smiled and straightened in his.


Hmm...okay...well that's a pretty informative seating order...also poor Seppo..

“Ah, so we finally get to meet Charax’s Annointed One. A fine lad, if a bit underclad.”

Hasda bowed, both to show respect and cover his bewilderment. “Thank you, Your Grace.”

“His armor is being repaired by Phaeus,” Malia said. “It will be ready in time for the trial, though.”


Poor guy having to deal with soo many gods at once now...oh dear...and Seppo of course has to call him out on being underdressed.

“That’s, er, good.” Seppo reclined and looked uncomfortable. “We wouldn’t want him going in unarmed, now, would we?”

“Of course not.” Malia’s voice was sweet.

Seppo shifted and glanced away. “Right. Er, please, be seated.”


Oh dear...now why is Seppo being so awkward at the moment.

I had no idea what had Seppo so unsettled until I pulled out my seat and noticed the warmth on my arm. Malia had threaded her hand around my elbow again. It was a comfortable, familiar feeling, and I’d paid it no attention. Poor Seppo.


Ahh...this is just awesome...first of all its just so sweet to see how he doesn't even notice the action...and then the fact that poor Seppo is having to deal with being uncomfortable around that.

“Do try to be cordial to our host,” I hissed under my breath as we took our seats.

She gave me a coy smile and released my arm as she coiled up in her chair. “Of course, dear.”

I grunted and gave her a stern look. She never behaved, and at an event as important as Hasda’s inaugural quest, I’d trust her not to start scheming about as much as I trusted Hasda not to get lost in Nebesa, staggering around in awestruck wonder. Which was extremely likely, because the lad was ogling Seppo’s exoskeleton with the rapt attention a toddler gave a shiny beetle. The pistons hissed and pumped as Seppo spread his arms wide, regaling the lad with tales of his exploits and engineering accomplishments.


Well...now isn't that why we all love Malia after all...

Hasda was safe in Seppo’s hands. The head god was arguably more lonely than I was, despite the constant demands for his attention, and he liked to brag. What god didn’t? But Seppo spoke in a straightforward manner. If Malia was the goddess of machinations, Seppo was the god of plain-faced truths. And the Carthians hadn’t had a sponsored hero embark on trials in several generations, so the old god wanted to dote while he had the chance.


Well that definitely seems like its going to work out quite well for Hasda at least....

“Sorry I’m late!” A pale goddess burst in through the pillars opposite us, stumbling to a halt behind a seat across the table. I didn’t recognize her, but she looked young, so I wasn’t surprised. Her emerald green chiton was surprisingly modest, the cloth flapping around her thin legs as she brought herself to an awkward stop. “I am late, right? Oh, I do hope not.”

“Hello, Jade,” Malia said, voice cool. Her face looked guarded, which was unusual.


Hmm...well this is an interesting new character that just burst in on us...okay...seems like quite a character though at first glance.

“Hi, Malia. Hello, Seppo. Who’s this?” She tilted her head at Hasda. “Is he the new champion? He must be. Hi, I’m Jade.” She extended her hand across the table, but it didn’t even reach Seppo, let alone the lad. Flushing, she jerked her hand back and hurried around the table, apologizing to Seppo as she bumped into the back of his seat. “It’s been a while since we’ve had a champion in Nebesa. I heard you’re sponsored. Who is your patron?”


Well you definitely tell she's quite young and excited judging from the machine gun barrage of questions....

“Are,” Malia corrected. “Who ‘are’ your patrons. That would be Charax and I.”

“Oh wow.” Jade’s eyes went wide as she finally noticed me. She flitted around Hasda to stand right next to me, a little too close for my liking. Her sharp eyes matched the color of her dress, they were intense, and they were very much in my face. She didn’t mean anything by it, but I still heard Malia’s annoyed hiss behind me. “You’re really old, aren’t you?”


Oooh...well this one definitely does not take her time asking the small questions...getting right o the point I see...

I coughed. “And you’re obviously new. Are you still wet behind the ears, or have you graduated yet?”

“Full goddess, almost finished with my first century. But, wow, are you really that ancient god Charax?” She tilted her head. “I thought you’d be more wrinkly.”


Well you can tell she's under a century by how little she's monitoring what's coming out of her mouth...

“He’s recovering from an early retirement, so all his wrinkles are on his heart,” Malia said, a hand on my arm as she leaned over to catch Jade’s eye. Her serpents tickled me ear as they flicked their tongues. “But your academy training is out of date. He’s a seated god again.”

“Really?” Her mouth fell open, she was so excited. If Nebesa suddenly lost its gravity, she’d shoot through the stars with all that energy. It was strangely refreshing, her enthusiasm. “Wow. We haven’t had a god abandon retirement since, well, I don’t know. The Anals don’t mention that ever happening.”


Hmmm...I do like her continuous energy though...ahh its such a different character to what we've seen so far when it comes to gods and I love it.

“It’s happened a couple times before,” I said. “Well before your time. The last one barely reached mine.”

“Really? What happened?”

“Well, there was this crusty old badger, nasty fellow,” I said, settling in for a good yarn. “And he—”

“There was a badger god?” Jade said, eyes lighting up. “That’s so cool.”


Oh wow...this one is the immortal of Hasda isn't it....ahh...I might suddenly get a new favorite character at this rate if she's going to be a more permanent fixture for the story.

“No, as in, a grumpy old fart,” I said, frowning. “Now, he had this dame who was a total pain in the ass, and she kept pestering the whole time he was supposed to be retired, so he eventually came back so he’d have the divine strength to endure her nagging.”

Malia slapped my arm affectionately. “You’re thinking of yourself, you old sack.”


Oh dear...I am about to fall off my chair laughing...not to mention the wholesomeness of that line right there is far too high to be legal.

“Huh, I guess I am.” I smiled at her.

Jade gave us both confused looks. “So you used to be a badger?”

“Never.”

“Aww.” She sagged a little, but then she perked back up. “Well, it’s always cool seeing a living relic.”


Oh wow...this one has absolutely no filter whatsoever...its is very refreshing to be honest.

I blinked.

“Anyways, I’m going to find my seat before I say something I’m not supposed to. Seppo was afraid I’d run my mouth and spoil that Hasda—”

“Jade!” Seppo thundered, his arm augments clinking as he thumped the table.

“Whoops!” She jumped and darted off, scurrying around the dryads and satyrs as she made her escape. Seppo hadn’t even gotten to his feet before she’d vanished out of the Hall. Sighing, the old god settled back into his seat and resumed his conversation with Hasda.


OOoooh....now what was that which she almost let slip...ahh..well..I'm just gonna rush over to the next chapter and find out I suppose...xD

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Hmm...well that near slip up by Jade has me very curious....I'm just gonna run over to to that next chapter and get a hold of that one...as well...the halfway point of reviewing this story comes to a close...just half of it left now...xD...and ahh...I still love reading this...so...yeah you're doing a great job with this story so far.

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

Stay Safe
Harry




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Sat Mar 27, 2021 3:54 pm
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Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

This was a reallly fun chapter. I love all the dynamics you introduced (jade is honestly such a vibe and I really REALLY adore her character. She's so fun and hilarious. This chapter was very entertaining, honestly, so much so I don't even know where to begin!

I think the thing that dawned on me while reading this is how phenomenal your worldbuilding is. I don't think I've ever questioned anything about this world. It seems like it's kind of based on the ancient Greek pantheon, but you've totally personalized it and made it your own. It's really nicely done. It really comes through in the descriptions at the beginning of this chapter and it made it truly magical.

Also, I'm not sure if this was intentional, but I love the sort of parent vibes Malia and Charax have over Hasda. It's really nice, how they're just kind of this unconventional family. I loved Malia's little bit warning Hasda about all the women in Nebesa, and Charax just kind of being the responsible dad. I'm living for Chardad and Momlia, honestly.

Also, the ending was absolutely hilarious. Like I said before, Jade is a really fun character. I'm curious whether she and Hasda are going to maybe have something between them....?

Specifics

The Anals don’t mention that ever happening.”


Unless this is some kind of crude joke, I'm pretty sure you meant Annals here. "Anals" is... ummm... quite the different word, and one I'm not sure really goes here haha.

Overall: really nice job! I'm so excited for the next bit!!!




dragonfphoenix says...


Thanks! Yeah, I'm a huge mythology nerd and I feel like there's so much of it that doesn't get used enough or receive enough attention, so I'm trying to fix that the hard way :P

Haha, the parent thing was kind of accidental, kind of intentional? Charax very obviously filled the father role bc he raised Hasda, and then Malia's meddling and their reunion just kind of led to the family dynamic popping up. It's been fun to play around with.

I swear I looked that up just to be sure. Either Google lied to me or my sleep-deprived potato brain misread the results. Definitely a typo, although now I have visions of an Archive of Flatulence, where the Oracles must translate the "tunes" to retrieve information. XD Whoopsies.



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Sat Mar 27, 2021 2:58 pm
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Spearmint wrote a review...



Hello hello, Spearmint here for a review! ^-^ First off, I think the pacing of each of these chapters is excellent-- just enough happens to keep the reader interested while also not overwhelming them with too much action. So great job with that! C:

As we approached the Hall, which was an open-roofed, pillared temple, we were bombarded with the smells of roast boar, sizzling steak, and grilled mutton. The aroma of ambrosia...

Ahh this description is wonderful! It makes me wish I was there at the Hall (but without all the drama, of course :p) Anyways it was super cool to read about this new place!
The satyr and dryad descriptions also really helped bring the Hall to life for me, so that was awesome!

...the left reserved for his future wife, should he ever wed one. The place had been set and left empty for as long as I could remember.

Okay, I was a little confused here. Is this part talking about Hasda's wife, or Seppo's? And what does it mean for the seat to have been left empty for a long time? Is it because heroes don't survive long enough to start families? Sorry, it's probably just me missing something here. ^-^

Her face looked guarded, which was unusual.

Hmm... Could Jade be a threat to Malia, under her exuberant exterior? Or does Malia just not like upstart goddesses? Interesting...

“Well, it’s always cool seeing a living relic.”

I blinked.

XDD This part was super funny to me; keep up your fantastic sense of humor!
Overall this was another awesome chapter, and I'm super excited to read more about this new character, Jade! Keep writing! C:




dragonfphoenix says...


The empty chair part is a callback to Seppo's "eternal bachelor" status. It was kind of a *insert Timmy's dad from Fairly Odd Parents* "This is where I'd seat my wife if I had one!" moment.

I never really know with Malia. Sometimes I wonder how much is her also being unsure but pretending she has a motive until she figures it out herself. XD

More chapters coming soon!



Spearmint says...


Oh I see, poor Seppo XD
Haha yes, Malia is a fantastic character to read about-- so much complexity!
And yay, that's awesome! ^-^




Hail Hydra
— Stan Lee