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16+ Language

The Many Gifts of Malia--Part 28: "The Djinn"

by dragonfphoenix


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

The air blurred around me. Tendrils of pale tan shimmered in the air, hanging like streamers in Jade’s wake as she slithered between me and the djinn. In her lamia form, her legs had been replaced by a sandy golden snake body which whipped up dirt and chunks of grass from her fury. Brown energy, brighter than the tans trailing her shoulders, burst from her eyes as she bore down on the djinn.

“Saran!”

From the way the djinn flinched, that was obviously its name. It cowered beneath her, as best it could given its positional predicament, and mumbled something unintelligible.

Whatever language Jade berated it in, neither Malia nor I knew it. Hasda, spellbound as he was, paid it no attention either, but that wasn’t confirmation he didn’t understand it. The words were lilting, sonorous, cacophonous, as she moved through a range of emotions during her tirade. She gestured at Hasda several times, and the djinn recoiled and shied away as best he could.

Compared to Malia and me, Jade’s power was pitiful, but it seemed to cow the djinn. She had her full aura on display, although I could feel my age with how young and small her strength was. It was like watching an adolescent fumble through their first undirected adult errand. Simpler, inexperienced times, when mundane tasks seemed monumental.

When it came to Paeden things, Jade was in her element, handling the djinn with far more grace than the awkwardness she’d exuded as the feast. After she concluded her dressing down of the djinn, she fixed her eyes on Hasda and raised a hand towards him.

And Malia snapped. She shot forward so fast, she nearly knocked all three of us over as she collided with Jade. I only barely got out of the way in time and had the djinn hissing as a small section of its amorphous blob grazed the ground.

“What are you doing?” Malia hissed, towering over the lamia, her wings flared.

Jade wilted beneath her. “I...I was going to help.”

“Really? Then what was all that about?” Malia jerked her hand between Jade and the djinn.

Jade paled when she saw the spirit. “Don’t put him to earth! Raise him up, please.”

“Doing the best I can,” I said, straining to drag my Sword up against the weight of Hasda and the tiger.

“Why shouldn’t we?” Malia said, circling around Jade.

The lamia straightened and did her best to hold her ground. “Tingin is just as much the fringe of Paedaea as it is Carthia. Many old demons were buried at the edges of the empire. This place is one of them.”

“And how does that apply to this djinn?” Malia drilled Jade with a stare. “Or you, for that matter? Why do you care?”

Jade dropped her gaze, embarrassed. “The jade in the mines grows from the fragments of his shattered bones. In my old pantheon, I was guardian of his tomb.” She steeled herself and met Malia’s glare. “But he is an ancient and powerful evil, and he must not be revived. Feeding the djinn to him would give him a taste for resurrection, and could rouse him from his near-dead slumber.”

“He?” Malia tilted her head. “Who is he?”

“The demon buried here. We do not speak his name.”

“That’s all well and good,” I said, grunting as the tiger put more weight onto the djinn, “but can we deal with this thing first? Plenty of time to chat later.”

“May I?” Jade ducked her head submissively to Malia before approaching Hasda. “This hex, it binds by amplifying the strongest aspect of the person’s spirit. Hasda has great dedication, but the spell has snared him into single-minded pursuit.” She laid a glowing hand on his forehead, then drew her hand across his eyes. As she mumbled something in that lullabic language, Hasda shivered and jerked, his eyes twitching back and forth.

When she withdrew, tremors shook Hasda from his neck to his knees. He sneezed, and then his eyes focused. Jade caught his gaze like a viper mesmerizes a bird. More murmured words, half command, half plea, and Hasda nodded and picked up the caravan of words and marched them into the djinn.

It was an unearthly experience, made stranger by the fact that it was taking place wholly within the mortal realm. Undercurrents of energy slid between Hasda and the djinn, the lad leaning closer as more and more lines connected them. Slowly the djinn rose into the air, its plasmic insides swirling as it hovered. I eased up off the ground, sheathing my Sword. The tiger crouched to my right, watching the floating spirit with uneasy eyes. Malia and Jade watched from my left, having backed off as Hasda began his binding. Wings tense, Malia positioned herself between the lamia and Hasda, her Bow at the ready.

The air cracked as a thick, crimson line burst from Hasda chest, the ethereal energy passing harmlessly through his armor as it lanced the djinn. It made my stomach churn, both from its color, which resembled blood far too much for my liking, and from its aura, which made my throat feel bloated, as if stuffed with rotten scrambled eggs. When scarlet drops of energy bled from the line, I had to forcibly dig my feet into the ground to keep myself from rushing forward.

Whatever sorcery this binding was, it wasn’t Carthian, and it certainly wasn’t holy. But it didn’t seem to be hurting Hasda yet, and with how much space Jade was giving Hasda, it didn’t seem wise to interrupt the incantation. Carthians avoided meddling with spirits precisely because of the myriad of adverse affects spiritual magic could afflict on its wielder, not to mention how untrustworthy the spirits themselves were. Add to that the strongest spirits came from older pantheons that predated our advent, and we left them well enough alone.

Like a spring bursting through a rent in a cliff, another line of aberrant energy snapped between Hasda and the djinn. It throbbed with light that warped the air around it and made my stomach twist into knots. Another line joined it, and another, until a half-dozen beams of twisted energy connected Hasda and the djinn, who were barely a foot apart now. Hasda’s toes dragged on the ground as he was pulled upwards, almost into the djinn.

Shrieks like grating metal filled the air as the two finally touched. A bubble of wine-red light enveloped the pair, stitches of burgundy and maroon energy zigzagging across its surface. The shrieks became banshee whines, rising in pitch until it was almost unbearable. Then, with a rush of wind, everything went calm.

Hasda floated down, arms outstretched, and landed lightly on his feet. He looked dazed, both at his surroundings and at the strange etchings on his chestplate, which wound around and back on themselves like a branching river delta. The markings had a reddish-purple hue, like an infected wound, and were uneven, scoring the armor in some places and bubbling up in others like bad welds. A wave of nausea rolled over us all, and then it was gone.

Hasda smiled at Jade and gestured towards the tiger. “I brought you a present.” Then he pitched forward, out cold.

Malia darted forward, catching him before he face-planted into the ground. As her hands met the marred armor, she winced, but she quickly hid her grimace. “What’s wrong with him? And be quick,” she snapped at Jade.

The lamia shrank back, the air beneath her shimmering as she shifted to human legs. Eyes on the ground, she said, “He has bound the djinn to his breastplate. It will accompany him as long as the armor is in his possession.”

“That didn’t—”

“While the binding did not harm him,” Jade continued, “it has left him drained. I fear his conflict with the Kydonian tiger has done him no favors, either. He needs to rest and then spend time finalizing his bond with the djinn.”

Malia pursed her lips but said nothing as she carried Hasda past her, heading to his hut.

Jade danced out of Malia’s way, keeping her gaze averted. When the gorgon was long gone, she finally looked up, first at me, then the tiger. “Did he really mean it?”

“Mean what?” I rolled my shoulders, testing my joints. Holding the djinn up hadn’t taken nearly as much out of me as I expected.

She rubbed her shoulder, looking away. “About the tiger.”

“Oh. Yeah.” I winced as my neck popped unexpectedly during a roll. “There’s more to it, but I’d better let him explain it to you. Since it was his idea, after all.”

“I see.” Her eyes took on a haunted look as she watched the tiger, which had laid down and was staring at us silently.

I frowned. “Something wrong?”

She shook her head and smiled. “It’s nothing. I just...no one’s ever given me a gift before.”

“Really?” That was unusual, even for a minor deity. “Your worshippers never brought you offerings?”

Blushing, she dropped her gaze again. “In Paedaea, worshippers are not required for divinity. And who would devote themselves to a backwater servant?”

“Oh.”

Still blushing, she shuffled over to the tiger and approached it slowly. “With the djinn gone, it can begin healing. Perhaps it would like to bathe in the springs of Maas Taeful?”

The tiger blinked.

Jade took that as all the confirmation she needed. Clasping her hands together, she turned and forced a smile. “We will await Hasda, and his further words, in Nebesa. Tell him...I appreciate his gift.”

I grunted. “You can tell him yourself at the feast.”

She jerked a nod as her honey-brown portal opened around her and the tiger. The smell of lilies spilled out, fogging around us unseen. With a flash, the portal swallowed them, leaving me to return to the village on my own.

One thing troubled me as I made my way down the mountain. The look in Jade’s eyes when she talked about her new gift was a mix of emotions, like she wanted to laugh, cry, and curl up on herself, all at the same time. And while I didn’t know the specifics, I knew for a fact that the haunted half of that look came from her history with her former pantheon. Whatever memories hounded her, they were far from pleasant.

I grunted as Hasda’s hut came into view. Well, I’d ask Malia and see what she knew. No sense needlessly speculating in an area I was woefully ignorant.


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Sat May 29, 2021 6:29 am
KateHardy wrote a review...



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

Hi! I'm baaack....well this took me a few days to get to...but here I am...

First Impression: Well...this little battle with the djinn ended up revealing a lot more things than I expected it to..also woo Hasda's chestplate is no longer your standard issues warrior's kit now...well Malia can no longer be disappointed in it. It now comes with a free imprisoned spirit.

Anyway let's get right to it,

The air blurred around me. Tendrils of pale tan shimmered in the air, hanging like streamers in Jade’s wake as she slithered between me and the djinn. In her lamia form, her legs had been replaced by a sandy golden snake body which whipped up dirt and chunks of grass from her fury. Brown energy, brighter than the tans trailing her shoulders, burst from her eyes as she bore down on the djinn.


Ooooh Jade jumping into the fray here...will this about to get very interesting...and yay!!! my guess from the earlier chapter's little clue was correct....woohoo

“Saran!”

From the way the djinn flinched, that was obviously its name. It cowered beneath her, as best it could given its positional predicament, and mumbled something unintelligible.

Whatever language Jade berated it in, neither Malia nor I knew it. Hasda, spellbound as he was, paid it no attention either, but that wasn’t confirmation he didn’t understand it. The words were lilting, sonorous, cacophonous, as she moved through a range of emotions during her tirade. She gestured at Hasda several times, and the djinn recoiled and shied away as best he could.


Wow, Jade just laying into that thing it appears, I wonder what she's yelling at it to get it to shy away so fast....well I suppose knowing the true name certainly does help out quite a bit, that's definitely something...well let's see how this plays out I suppose.

Compared to Malia and me, Jade’s power was pitiful, but it seemed to cow the djinn. She had her full aura on display, although I could feel my age with how young and small her strength was. It was like watching an adolescent fumble through their first undirected adult errand. Simpler, inexperienced times, when mundane tasks seemed monumental.


Oooh well that's a really interesting little comment to see there...just to put into perspective how the powers of these gods tend to work and how they improve and age over time....definitely quite an interesting snippet to sneak into here this one. Love seeing little bits of worldbuilding like this.

When it came to Paeden things, Jade was in her element, handling the djinn with far more grace than the awkwardness she’d exuded as the feast. After she concluded her dressing down of the djinn, she fixed her eyes on Hasda and raised a hand towards him.


Hmm...well that dressing down is finished...

And Malia snapped. She shot forward so fast, she nearly knocked all three of us over as she collided with Jade. I only barely got out of the way in time and had the djinn hissing as a small section of its amorphous blob grazed the ground.

“What are you doing?” Malia hissed, towering over the lamia, her wings flared.

Jade wilted beneath her. “I...I was going to help.”


Ooof well Malia took that hand raising very seriously I see...as she usually does I suppose...xD...well Jade's going to get subjected to her second interrogation I see.

“Really? Then what was all that about?” Malia jerked her hand between Jade and the djinn.

Jade paled when she saw the spirit. “Don’t put him to earth! Raise him up, please.”

“Doing the best I can,” I said, straining to drag my Sword up against the weight of Hasda and the tiger.


Oh dear...well this don't touch the ground thing appears to be getting reinforced repeatedly now, even by Jade...what on Earth could possibly be buried down there that's going to cause so much chaos if its released.

“Why shouldn’t we?” Malia said, circling around Jade.

The lamia straightened and did her best to hold her ground. “Tingin is just as much the fringe of Paedaea as it is Carthia. Many old demons were buried at the edges of the empire. This place is one of them.”


Hm...old demons...okay...those sound like things we definitely should be releasing from the Earth...;)

“And how does that apply to this djinn?” Malia drilled Jade with a stare. “Or you, for that matter? Why do you care?”

Jade dropped her gaze, embarrassed. “The jade in the mines grows from the fragments of his shattered bones. In my old pantheon, I was guardian of his tomb.” She steeled herself and met Malia’s glare. “But he is an ancient and powerful evil, and he must not be revived. Feeding the djinn to him would give him a taste for resurrection, and could rouse him from his near-dead slumber.”


Well that's definitely a terrible thing....I mean...I guess...we don't exactly know what a demon is, and how powerful they are and what kind of terrible things he could do here...so umm...do we take Jade's word for it?...that is the question I suppose.

“He?” Malia tilted her head. “Who is he?”

“The demon buried here. We do not speak his name.”

“That’s all well and good,” I said, grunting as the tiger put more weight onto the djinn, “but can we deal with this thing first? Plenty of time to chat later.”


Oh trust me, while trying to do an impossible hard task is definitely the best time to be having a chat Charax....don't complain.

“May I?” Jade ducked her head submissively to Malia before approaching Hasda. “This hex, it binds by amplifying the strongest aspect of the person’s spirit. Hasda has great dedication, but the spell has snared him into single-minded pursuit.” She laid a glowing hand on his forehead, then drew her hand across his eyes. As she mumbled something in that lullabic language, Hasda shivered and jerked, his eyes twitching back and forth.


Hmm...well Jade knows a thing or two about that I see....that's great news for saving poor Hasda from whatever is afflicting him here.

When she withdrew, tremors shook Hasda from his neck to his knees. He sneezed, and then his eyes focused. Jade caught his gaze like a viper mesmerizes a bird. More murmured words, half command, half plea, and Hasda nodded and picked up the caravan of words and marched them into the djinn.


Oooh...looks like she's telling him how to bind this djinn or something along those lines....well I hope so...hopefully that's not a self destruct spell of some kind and Jade has been the enemy all along...xD

It was an unearthly experience, made stranger by the fact that it was taking place wholly within the mortal realm. Undercurrents of energy slid between Hasda and the djinn, the lad leaning closer as more and more lines connected them. Slowly the djinn rose into the air, its plasmic insides swirling as it hovered. I eased up off the ground, sheathing my Sword. The tiger crouched to my right, watching the floating spirit with uneasy eyes. Malia and Jade watched from my left, having backed off as Hasda began his binding. Wings tense, Malia positioned herself between the lamia and Hasda, her Bow at the ready.


Okay...well first of all, that is some awesome description there to set the scene for the binding to follow and well...looks like this binding is about to happen then...this should be a really cool scene coming up. :D

The air cracked as a thick, crimson line burst from Hasda chest, the ethereal energy passing harmlessly through his armor as it lanced the djinn. It made my stomach churn, both from its color, which resembled blood far too much for my liking, and from its aura, which made my throat feel bloated, as if stuffed with rotten scrambled eggs. When scarlet drops of energy bled from the line, I had to forcibly dig my feet into the ground to keep myself from rushing forward.


Whoa...epic description detected...well this is some raw imagery there to show this thing in action.

Whatever sorcery this binding was, it wasn’t Carthian, and it certainly wasn’t holy. But it didn’t seem to be hurting Hasda yet, and with how much space Jade was giving Hasda, it didn’t seem wise to interrupt the incantation. Carthians avoided meddling with spirits precisely because of the myriad of adverse affects spiritual magic could afflict on its wielder, not to mention how untrustworthy the spirits themselves were. Add to that the strongest spirits came from older pantheons that predated our advent, and we left them well enough alone.


Hmm...well that seems like a great policy on their part there...keeps you alive for longer...that kind of policy.

Like a spring bursting through a rent in a cliff, another line of aberrant energy snapped between Hasda and the djinn. It throbbed with light that warped the air around it and made my stomach twist into knots. Another line joined it, and another, until a half-dozen beams of twisted energy connected Hasda and the djinn, who were barely a foot apart now. Hasda’s toes dragged on the ground as he was pulled upwards, almost into the djinn.


Ahhh...I just love the display of magic here...

Shrieks like grating metal filled the air as the two finally touched. A bubble of wine-red light enveloped the pair, stitches of burgundy and maroon energy zigzagging across its surface. The shrieks became banshee whines, rising in pitch until it was almost unbearable. Then, with a rush of wind, everything went calm.


Hmm....that's really well done there, magic continuing to increase in intensity there, slowly building the tension and then a neat climax there before everything returns right back to normal. Pretty nicely done :D

Hasda floated down, arms outstretched, and landed lightly on his feet. He looked dazed, both at his surroundings and at the strange etchings on his chestplate, which wound around and back on themselves like a branching river delta. The markings had a reddish-purple hue, like an infected wound, and were uneven, scoring the armor in some places and bubbling up in others like bad welds. A wave of nausea rolled over us all, and then it was gone.


Oooh..well that should make that chestplate look a little more interesting I suppose...xD

Hasda smiled at Jade and gestured towards the tiger. “I brought you a present.” Then he pitched forward, out cold.

Malia darted forward, catching him before he face-planted into the ground. As her hands met the marred armor, she winced, but she quickly hid her grimace. “What’s wrong with him? And be quick,” she snapped at Jade.


Ahh...Hasda hitting us with a classic before passing out superhero one liner there...those are always hilarious and I love it.

The lamia shrank back, the air beneath her shimmering as she shifted to human legs. Eyes on the ground, she said, “He has bound the djinn to his breastplate. It will accompany him as long as the armor is in his possession.”

“That didn’t—”

“While the binding did not harm him,” Jade continued, “it has left him drained. I fear his conflict with the Kydonian tiger has done him no favors, either. He needs to rest and then spend time finalizing his bond with the djinn.”


Hmm...well bonding time being taken very literally in this situation I suppose.

Malia pursed her lips but said nothing as she carried Hasda past her, heading to his hut.

Jade danced out of Malia’s way, keeping her gaze averted. When the gorgon was long gone, she finally looked up, first at me, then the tiger. “Did he really mean it?”

“Mean what?” I rolled my shoulders, testing my joints. Holding the djinn up hadn’t taken nearly as much out of me as I expected.


Hmm...well this should be an interesting conversation.

She rubbed her shoulder, looking away. “About the tiger.”

“Oh. Yeah.” I winced as my neck popped unexpectedly during a roll. “There’s more to it, but I’d better let him explain it to you. Since it was his idea, after all.”

“I see.” Her eyes took on a haunted look as she watched the tiger, which had laid down and was staring at us silently.


Well, the tiger seems pretty chill at the moment, that's good to see...but also Jade is looking very interesting as well...so much stuff happening at this point...ahh...well this is awesome.

I frowned. “Something wrong?”

She shook her head and smiled. “It’s nothing. I just...no one’s ever given me a gift before.”

“Really?” That was unusual, even for a minor deity. “Your worshippers never brought you offerings?”

Blushing, she dropped her gaze again. “In Paedaea, worshippers are not required for divinity. And who would devote themselves to a backwater servant?”


Well...that..that is an interesting little detail...but it does make a lot of sense there given the worldbuilding already done in the story...well this should be really interesting.

“Oh.”

Still blushing, she shuffled over to the tiger and approached it slowly. “With the djinn gone, it can begin healing. Perhaps it would like to bathe in the springs of Maas Taeful?”

The tiger blinked.


Hmm, well the poor tiger gets to finally have some respite from whatever chaos everyone's put it through.

Jade took that as all the confirmation she needed. Clasping her hands together, she turned and forced a smile. “We will await Hasda, and his further words, in Nebesa. Tell him...I appreciate his gift.”

I grunted. “You can tell him yourself at the feast.”


Hmm...so would this trial be considered complete or not...now that's the big question I suppose...or maybe its already been answered and I just don't see it....uhh...let' see I guess.

One thing troubled me as I made my way down the mountain. The look in Jade’s eyes when she talked about her new gift was a mix of emotions, like she wanted to laugh, cry, and curl up on herself, all at the same time. And while I didn’t know the specifics, I knew for a fact that the haunted half of that look came from her history with her former pantheon. Whatever memories hounded her, they were far from pleasant.


Hmm...well she's either good enough at acting to be the goddess of theatre or...she legitimately has had a horrible life as is trying to move on from it as best she can.

I grunted as Hasda’s hut came into view. Well, I’d ask Malia and see what she knew. No sense needlessly speculating in an area I was woefully ignorant.


Hmm...looking forward to seeing how that conversation ends up going.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overalll...another lovely addition to this story...waiting patiently to see what's going to happen next on this crazy adventure...but..until then...that's it from me. :D

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

Stay Safe
Harry




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Tue May 25, 2021 1:08 pm
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Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume back again, with another review!

Ooh! I really, really enjoyed this chapter. You know how fond I am of Jade, and it was so great to see her kind of... come into her own. Even though Charax did describe it as much smaller than other god's power, I think the way you described it was honestly really beautiful. I love seeing overlooked characters display what they're good at, and I think that this was a perfect example.

One thing I liked about this was just the amount of visuals you provide. I normally can't stand description, but the way you write is just so vibrant. I especially liked the lines where you described the djinn getting bonded to Hasda as well as the part where Jade enters and is intimidating the djinn. Both of those parts benefited immensely from your lovely descriptions. You also combine them very well with other parts, like dialogue. The ending, where Jade has a conversation with Charax, is a great example of that.

Speaking of Jade, I'm super curious about her character and her past. I feel like she definitely has been through more than she lets on originally. I'm curious to see where you take her character over the course of the book. (Also, that little line about how no one had ever given her a gift before was so sad. My heart broke a little when I read it.)

I also like how this chapter cleared up a lot of my questions. I feel like you have a sort of pattern when you write, where you have a chapter that leaves a lot of unanswered questions, and then you clear up most of them in the next section. I think this works for the most part, especially when readers are reading them all at once rather than in a serialized format like I am.

Overall: nice work! I think this chapter was pretty spotless in terms of grammar and punctuation, so I really don't have any criticisms. Keep up the great work, and, as always, I look forward to reading the next bit. Until next time!!





Perfect kindness acts without thinking of kindness.
— Lao Tse