z
  • Home

Young Writers Society


16+ Language

The Many Gifts of Malia--Part 3: "The Audience"

by dragonfphoenix


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

It took him forever to eat. And considering that he dragged his feet long enough that even I noticed it, he must’ve really not wanted to have this conversation. He emerged from the subterranean kitchen when the moon had already been up for several hours, his face hidden behind his hair, his eyes tracing the well-worn cracks of the floor.

“So, Malia, eh?” I pushed him over the conversational cliff. He’d kick at the lichen on the brick for a good hour more if I didn’t kickstart this myself. Not that it mattered to me how quickly this got on, but he seemed to have reached the age where time mattered to him. Somehow without my noticing.

“Yes.” He rubbed at the strap across his chest. I squinted. His woodsman bag?

“Late hunting with the witch of the night?”

I didn’t need to see his ears go red to feel the warmth. “No,” he muttered, his fingers double-timing across the leather. Still not meeting my eyes, he shifted from one foot to the other. And back again. The whole time, his fingernails scratched an erratic rhythm on the strap.

My bones grated on the hard seat of the throne. Such creature comforts tended not to matter when all that remained of one’s body was the skeletal frame, but for once I wished I’d thought to pad it, if only to keep the noise down. My robes muffled the grating my shifting weight created, but not enough. Not nearly enough.

I tried again. “What did she promise you?”

“To see the world, as a man should,” he said. He added scuffing sandal sounds to the sibilance of the nervous noises. Finally he met my eyes. “If you would have me abstain from war, then why would you teach me to hunt? I could forage and survive, if peace truly mattered.”

“Again with her borrowed words,” I sighed, sinking my chin into my hands. The move made my elbow pop in a way that was nearly painful, and made Hasda jump. “Apologies. It seems my old age is finally catching up with me.”

He laughed. “It’s been catching up with you as long as I can remember, old man.”

“That it is.” I forced a chuckle. It felt hollow and made my mouth taste of a crypt, so I didn’t try it again. “So, will you take her up on her offer?”

Hasda straightened his shoulders. “I will.”

“And do you think she’ll keep her promise?”

This gave him pause. “I…”

“You seem to forget, Hasda, that I’ve known her far longer than you.” I rattled my ribcage with another sigh. “Before I gave my seat up, before she was the goddess of war, even.”

“Before you went into hiding?”

That was low, and we both knew it. But he carried the barb for her.

I cracked my neck and rose from my seat. “I want you to remember this night, Hasda. When you lay in your tent, wherever your war camp may be, I want you to think back on this and remember the peace you threw away. Weigh it against the lives you’ll spend for the life you want. And see if, in the balance, the trade was worth it.” I turned my back and examined the carving on the temple wall behind the throne. Not that I hadn’t seen the winged gorgon every day that I’d sat the throne, but to give my eyes something to see other than Hasda’s face. He was too young, too inexperienced even with Malia’s council, to understand the severity of the choice he was making tonight. But he would learn, in time.

“You know, she didn’t give just me an offer.” I heard leather sliding against bare skin, the sound of clasps being undone. His sandals slapped the stones as he ascended the steps to my throne. Went silent, stood behind me, waiting.

The hem of my robes rustled against the stone floor, whispering of premonitions I didn’t want to heed. I shoved the half-formed thoughts from my mind and focused on the scroll in Hasda’s outstretched hand. “What is this?” I didn’t ask from whom. The purple seal said enough.

An uncertain smile wrestled with his lips. “She wants you to come with. Not to send me alone, but to share this journey together. All of us.” His eyes shone in the moonlight, and gods damned the child, but he was happy. Thrilled, even. The call of the unknown, the wild, untamed world, with a god at each shoulder. Who was he to know how foolish that stance could be?

“No.”

“No?” His smile lost its strength, a frown pinning it.

“No.” I shook my head and pushed the scroll away, creaking into my throne like the tired old god I was. “Those days are long past me, Hasda. She didn’t tell you, did she, how she got her seat?”

He shook his head but held the scroll out, a little too stiffly. “She said you’d be stubborn, but you’d read this in the end. Like you always do.”

“She outmaneuvered me, child.” I shook my head and laughed. “Those hunting skills?” I pointed past him, towards the forest. “I was the god of war. I, the great Charax. And Malia, with her silver tongue and her blue blood, convinced me that, with my superior skills in delivering death to the mortals, why, wouldn’t I be the best as the god of death! And in my youthful stupidity, and not a small dose of infatuation, I listened to her. Played like a damned fiddle and enjoyed every dance!” I sighed and took the scroll. “Steel your heart, boy, like it’s your first kill again. These are not the words you want to hear, but you need to hear them. I will not come with you. Not for a lack of love, as you should damned well know by now, but from an abundance of it.”

“But—”

“Listen, boy!” I snapped. Malia’s offer had me rattled, and he looked like an oversized version of the orphan she’d left on my doorstep, all those years ago. Bones groaning, I forced myself to relax into my throne, my shoulders against the backrest. “Should this journey turn out to be...less than you’d dreamed it would be, I will be here, waiting, to welcome you home again. Further,” I held up a finger, because he had that interrupting look on his face, “if you would make your way in the world, it would do your confidence good not to have your father watching over your shoulder every step of the way. I may not agree with the decisions you are going to make, but you should be free to make them without second-guessing yourself and watching over your shoulder for my disapproving glance. Am I clear?”

“Yes, sir.” He swallowed, his face stiff.

“Good. Are you still going to go with her?”

Hasda nodded, his fingers playing at that strap again.

“When will you leave?”

He looked away. “Tomorrow. At first light.”

So soon? But of course he would. And Malia expected me to come with him. Blasted woman.

“I see.” I slid from one side of my throne to the other, bones creaking like the worst, unoiled hinge. “You should rest, then. I expect you have a long journey ahead of you.”

He nodded and bowed, stiffly at the waist, something he hadn’t done since his youth. His teens? Where had the years gone?

I flipped the scroll around in my hands, over and over, and watched him head to his sleeping chambers. I would watch the stars, when I heard his telltale snoring. I needed the time to think.

The seal snagged on my finger and made me drop the scroll. I watched it roll down the steps with a frown. She would not bait me into another one of her schemes, oh no. It had been too many centuries, and I had grown smarter. Hasda’s fake snores ripped through the night, as he tried to lie to his brain that he truly had fallen asleep that quickly and no, his nerves weren’t tighter than a bowstring.

That’s right. No more falling for her schemes. Not a single one.

I sighed and forced myself up to totter after the fallen scroll.

Gods damn it.


Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
4350 Reviews

Points: 304916
Reviews: 4350

Donate
Mon May 24, 2021 5:09 am
KateHardy wrote a review...



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

Hi! I'm baaack for the the next one.....this story is definitely one of those page turners....well its still to early to tell if I can pull this off...but here we goo...second one.

First Impression: Okay...well...I can safely say I love this story already...and well...looks like we're definitely getting the plot going here in this one....looks like we have some fun mind games headed our way.

Anyway let's get right to it,

It took him forever to eat. And considering that he dragged his feet long enough that even I noticed it, he must’ve really not wanted to have this conversation. He emerged from the subterranean kitchen when the moon had already been up for several hours, his face hidden behind his hair, his eyes tracing the well-worn cracks of the floor.


Well...he's definitely putting that conversation...can't say I would blame him there.

“So, Malia, eh?” I pushed him over the conversational cliff. He’d kick at the lichen on the brick for a good hour more if I didn’t kickstart this myself. Not that it mattered to me how quickly this got on, but he seemed to have reached the age where time mattered to him. Somehow without my noticing.

“Yes.” He rubbed at the strap across his chest. I squinted. His woodsman bag?

“Late hunting with the witch of the night?”


Okay...welll...this conversation is definitely taking its own sweet time getting started.

I didn’t need to see his ears go red to feel the warmth. “No,” he muttered, his fingers double-timing across the leather. Still not meeting my eyes, he shifted from one foot to the other. And back again. The whole time, his fingernails scratched an erratic rhythm on the strap.

My bones grated on the hard seat of the throne. Such creature comforts tended not to matter when all that remained of one’s body was the skeletal frame, but for once I wished I’d thought to pad it, if only to keep the noise down. My robes muffled the grating my shifting weight created, but not enough. Not nearly enough.


Hmm...yeah he should definitely get some padding on that...its a very good not to have noise caused by your own skeletal body when you're trying to have a serious conversation.

I tried again. “What did she promise you?”

“To see the world, as a man should,” he said. He added scuffing sandal sounds to the sibilance of the nervous noises. Finally he met my eyes. “If you would have me abstain from war, then why would you teach me to hunt? I could forage and survive, if peace truly mattered.”


Hmm....he's actually searching for a compromise...gonna say I didn't quite see that coming, that seems like a suuper mature approach there...and not something you see too often from protagonists in fanstasy novels.

“Again with her borrowed words,” I sighed, sinking my chin into my hands. The move made my elbow pop in a way that was nearly painful, and made Hasda jump. “Apologies. It seems my old age is finally catching up with me.”


Or...maybe not.

He laughed. “It’s been catching up with you as long as I can remember, old man.”

“That it is.” I forced a chuckle. It felt hollow and made my mouth taste of a crypt, so I didn’t try it again. “So, will you take her up on her offer?”

Hasda straightened his shoulders. “I will.”

“And do you think she’ll keep her promise?”


Well...now that is indeed the question isn't it....its always the biggest of the questions.

This gave him pause. “I…”

“You seem to forget, Hasda, that I’ve known her far longer than you.” I rattled my ribcage with another sigh. “Before I gave my seat up, before she was the goddess of war, even.”

“Before you went into hiding?”


Hmm...well...Malia definitely took here time preparing this little bit of dialogue for Hasda here...its definitely working very well in the conversation...almost like she knew exactly what he would say...definitely shows they know each other well cause he also immediately knows its her words and not Hasda's.

I cracked my neck and rose from my seat. “I want you to remember this night, Hasda. When you lay in your tent, wherever your war camp may be, I want you to think back on this and remember the peace you threw away. Weigh it against the lives you’ll spend for the life you want. And see if, in the balance, the trade was worth it.” I turned my back and examined the carving on the temple wall behind the throne. Not that I hadn’t seen the winged gorgon every day that I’d sat the throne, but to give my eyes something to see other than Hasda’s face. He was too young, too inexperienced even with Malia’s council, to understand the severity of the choice he was making tonight. But he would learn, in time.


Hmm...well that sounds like he's just dismissing him right there...and then just giving up...oh dear.

“You know, she didn’t give just me an offer.” I heard leather sliding against bare skin, the sound of clasps being undone. His sandals slapped the stones as he ascended the steps to my throne. Went silent, stood behind me, waiting.

The hem of my robes rustled against the stone floor, whispering of premonitions I didn’t want to heed. I shoved the half-formed thoughts from my mind and focused on the scroll in Hasda’s outstretched hand. “What is this?” I didn’t ask from whom. The purple seal said enough.


Well...that scroll definitely seems very interesting.

An uncertain smile wrestled with his lips. “She wants you to come with. Not to send me alone, but to share this journey together. All of us.” His eyes shone in the moonlight, and gods damned the child, but he was happy. Thrilled, even. The call of the unknown, the wild, untamed world, with a god at each shoulder. Who was he to know how foolish that stance could be?


Not gonna lie....that does sound like it could be an awesome and hilarious teamup.

“No.”

“No?” His smile lost its strength, a frown pinning it.

“No.” I shook my head and pushed the scroll away, creaking into my throne like the tired old god I was. “Those days are long past me, Hasda. She didn’t tell you, did she, how she got her seat?”


Aww....well that's sad....hmm...let's hope they manage to convince him.

He shook his head but held the scroll out, a little too stiffly. “She said you’d be stubborn, but you’d read this in the end. Like you always do.”

“She outmaneuvered me, child.” I shook my head and laughed. “Those hunting skills?” I pointed past him, towards the forest. “I was the god of war. I, the great Charax. And Malia, with her silver tongue and her blue blood, convinced me that, with my superior skills in delivering death to the mortals, why, wouldn’t I be the best as the god of death! And in my youthful stupidity, and not a small dose of infatuation, I listened to her. Played like a damned fiddle and enjoyed every dance!” I sighed and took the scroll. “Steel your heart, boy, like it’s your first kill again. These are not the words you want to hear, but you need to hear them. I will not come with you. Not for a lack of love, as you should damned well know by now, but from an abundance of it.”


Oh well...that's simultaneously a lovely touch of backstory, a great little speech here to Hasda, a way for me to finally remember his name, and also really sweet to see him talk about his love for Hasda all at the same time and I am loving it.

“But—”

“Listen, boy!” I snapped. Malia’s offer had me rattled, and he looked like an oversized version of the orphan she’d left on my doorstep, all those years ago. Bones groaning, I forced myself to relax into my throne, my shoulders against the backrest. “Should this journey turn out to be...less than you’d dreamed it would be, I will be here, waiting, to welcome you home again. Further,” I held up a finger, because he had that interrupting look on his face, “if you would make your way in the world, it would do your confidence good not to have your father watching over your shoulder every step of the way. I may not agree with the decisions you are going to make, but you should be free to make them without second-guessing yourself and watching over your shoulder for my disapproving glance. Am I clear?”


Hmm....well that does seem relatively logical there...although I do still kinda hope he gave in and agreed to go in the end...hm...too much to hope for I suppose.

“Yes, sir.” He swallowed, his face stiff.

“Good. Are you still going to go with her?”

Hasda nodded, his fingers playing at that strap again.

“When will you leave?”

He looked away. “Tomorrow. At first light.”


Well...I suppose we as readers must now prepare ourselves for an epic journey...

So soon? But of course he would. And Malia expected me to come with him. Blasted woman.

“I see.” I slid from one side of my throne to the other, bones creaking like the worst, unoiled hinge. “You should rest, then. I expect you have a long journey ahead of you.”

He nodded and bowed, stiffly at the waist, something he hadn’t done since his youth. His teens? Where had the years gone?


Well...years to tend to fly past sometimes, especially when you're immortal.

I flipped the scroll around in my hands, over and over, and watched him head to his sleeping chambers. I would watch the stars, when I heard his telltale snoring. I needed the time to think.

The seal snagged on my finger and made me drop the scroll. I watched it roll down the steps with a frown. She would not bait me into another one of her schemes, oh no. It had been too many centuries, and I had grown smarter. Hasda’s fake snores ripped through the night, as he tried to lie to his brain that he truly had fallen asleep that quickly and no, his nerves weren’t tighter than a bowstring.


Oh well...looks like maybe Malia's plan just might work out for all...and that would be awesome

That’s right. No more falling for her schemes. Not a single one.

I sighed and forced myself up to totter after the fallen scroll.

Gods damn it.


Oh well...the denial...and that last line...ahh this is just the best way to end a chapter...ahh...I love this story so much already.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, another lovely chapter here...I have a feeling this dude will get tangled up in those schemes despite his best efforts here...but ehh...I'll just read on and find out...xD

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

Stay Safe
Harry




User avatar
259 Reviews

Points: 25535
Reviews: 259

Donate
Mon Mar 15, 2021 12:09 am
Spearmint wrote a review...



Hello, Spearmint here! I noticed this chapter was in the Green Room, so I decided to give it a review c: At this point, I've read up to and including Chapter 10, so if you're reading this and don't want any spoilers, please stop reading! Now that that's over with, let's get to the review!

I pushed him over the conversational cliff.

It's nice to see that your metaphors are still unique and humorous, even in your earlier chapters! And I feel like this particular phrase could have more than one connotation as well (which is pretty cool) -- it shows how Charax gets the conversation started, and it can also compare the conversation to free-falling down a cliffside. (At least that's how I see it :] )

Not that I hadn’t seen the winged gorgon every day that I’d sat the throne...

:eyes: But it isn't a winged gorgon...
I think I mentioned this in one of my other reviews, but I have to say it again: you are absolutely amazing at laying foundation! It really shows how you've planned this novel out and made sure that the reader'll be able to enjoy it without being confused. So great job with that!

The purple seal said enough.

Oh cool! I didn't notice this before, but it appears as if purple is Malia's color throughout the novel. Nice consistency there c:

The call of the unknown, the wild, untamed world, with a god at each shoulder. Who was he to know how foolish that stance could be?

I'm a little confused about this part-- why would it be foolish to have a god at each shoulder? Or is the foolish part following the call of the unknown? I might just be missing something here though :p

“She said you’d be stubborn, but you’d read this in the end. Like you always do.”

Ah, and Malia was right! It seems like she knows Charax even better than he knows himself XD

Okay, that's about it for this review! As always, I enjoyed (re)reading this chapter and I hope you keep writing! :D




User avatar
33 Reviews

Points: 2854
Reviews: 33

Donate
Fri Feb 26, 2021 1:00 am
View Likes
SoullessGinger says...



Just leaving a comment this time, I want to rush on to the next chapter! It's so good!! I have my own suspicions about Malia though. I don't trust her. Beautifully written, and I'm happy we got to learn more about Charax and his backstory! Excited for more!




dragonfphoenix says...


Thanks! I think you'll like the next few chapters: more info is on the way :)



User avatar
702 Reviews

Points: 87926
Reviews: 702

Donate
Fri Feb 12, 2021 1:46 pm
View Likes
Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!!

Aaaah another part is out!! I really enjoyed the progression of the story in this! Again, you're a marvelous storyteller, and I'm super invested in this piece.

One thing I don't think I've talked about yet in my reviews is Malia. She's such an interesting character, and I'm very curious what role she's going to play later on. Already, she's shaping up to be a sort of morally-gray trickster character whose intentions are unclear. Charax has an unfavorable view of her, but Hasda has basically the opposite. Her name is also in your title, with "The Many Gifts of Malia." This also lends itself to a more positive connotation, but given the narrator's unfavorable opinion of her, it's slightly juxtaposed. This isn't a bad thing, though; if anything, it kinda serves to represent Malia as having many facets. She's a surprisingly fleshed out character for someone who hasn't even appeared in person in the story yet, and I'm really curious as to what your plans for her are.

Also: Charax's dialogue in this is absolutely lovely. I really adored it. It completely fit in with his character and you should be proud.

Specifics

Not that it mattered to me how quickly this got on, but he seemed to have reached the age where time mattered to him. Somehow without my noticing.


The last bit of "somehow without my noticing" seemed to me like it disrupted the flow of your piece. I think it would sound better just attached to the sentence before it with a comma.

“Again with her borrowed words,” I sighed, sinking my chin into my hands.


I feel like this part might be better served if you replaced the comma with a period. Right now, you have it written like he's sighing out the words, which to me doesn't really match the character or the tone. If you put a period, it implies that he spoke and then had a separate sigh.

Overall: phenomenal job, as always! You're truly very talented, and I'm looking forward to the next installment!!




dragonfphoenix says...


Catching up on all the reviews, and you've already gotten to meet Malia by now XD
Thanks for the notes. I'm going to go back and clean everything up when the story's finished, so I'll keep these in mind




I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say.
— Flannery O'Connor