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The Many Gifts of Malia--Part 35: "The Breach"

by dragonfphoenix


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

The journey down river wasn’t particularly noteworthy. Palm trees, rushes, and cattails lined the banks, hiding frogs and locusts in their shadows. Despite the cool breeze slipping off the river, the heat steadily increased as we traveled, the humidity trapping and magnifying the heat.

Of course we didn’t find just plants on the way down, either. Long, thin fishing canoes floated on the water, occupied more by Paedens than Aeneans or Carthians the further along we went. We passed a couple lesser cities, Mari and Tyana, and scattered clusters of huts near river bends where fish tended to spawn, but nothing major—like abandoned temples—to sidetrack us. The Paeden river toll station did nearly succeed in drawing Malia’s ire, but I nudged her on with promises of unbridled destruction after we’d confirmed the Paedens were the ones behind all the conspiracies and sabotages.

Even with our divine speed, it still took most of the day to near the barrier that demarcated where Carthian influence ended and Paeden domination began. Invisible, the obstruction served only to impede godly beings and abilities, the fishermen on the river and in the village traveling across the unseen border with ease. The block only seemed to affect scrying, as far as vision was concerned, because Malia and I had no difficulty discerning the mortals passing by us, oblivious to our presence, as they made their way from the nearby watering hole back into the village.

Malia squinted at the air, her nose wrinkling as she took stock of whatever ward or enchantment constituted the barrier. Gasping, she jerked back as a wing tip brushed the barrier. A scowl lined her face as she bent down and examined the point where earth and enchantment met.

Although she had sharper senses than I did, I could still feel the effects of the barrier. If I got too close, it felt like a giant hand pressing a blanket against me. The harder I pushed, the greater the resistance. Nothing shocked me like it had Malia, and when I pressed my hand into the barrier, it was as if I’d plunged my fist into the deepest fathoms of the sea, such was the cold, crushing pressure I found. I could only keep my hand inside for a moment before the pain forced me out.

I frowned after a failed attempt to scuff my toe beneath the bottom of the block. “Any ideas?”

“No.” Malia pressed her lips together as she scratched at the sand. Simple equations in old runes spiraled out around her. After the numbers stopped dancing, she scowled at the answer they gave. “It’s like the opposite of an Oracle’s vision, but manifested as a physical object on the heavenly plane.”

“Oracle-grade magic shouldn’t be too hard to circumvent.” I rolled my knuckles against the barrier, letting the cool seep into my joints. “Obviously it’s not that simple, since it’s given the pantheon several headaches.”

“And is still keeping us outside.” Malia stood up and crossed her arms, her tail thumping in annoyance. Her eyes flicked towards my hand, which was wrist-deep in the barrier again. “Stop that.”

“Stop what?”

“You’re making my teeth tingle just looking at it.” She shivered. “How can you stand the pain? I can barely touch it.”

“It’s not that bad.” And I wasn’t trying to show off or impress her, it really didn’t hurt that much. My hand had started going numb to the cold, and the pressure wasn’t any worse than pushing against a marble column, if I didn’t shove too fast or too deep.

“Are you serious?” Malia poked the barrier again and yanked her hand away as static sparked. Scowling, she shook her hand and glared at me. “You can’t honestly tell me you don’t feel the heart of a hundred thunderstorms raging across your arm. It doesn’t even remotely feel like Phaeus’ forge?”

I shrugged. “Feels more like the bottom of the ocean to me. Cold, wet, and an immense amount of pressure.”

Malia folded her arms and pouted. “That’s not fair. I could handle the cold much better than electricity.”

“It’s not like I told it how to feel.”

“I know.” She shook her head and shot the barrier another glare. Her eyes started shifting, and she unfolded her arms as she squared off against the barricade. “I have an idea.”

I put a hand on her shoulder and angled between her and the invisible boundary. “Oh no.”

“What?” She gave me an innocent look.

“No gorgon’s gaze. You’d probably need to go full astral to even scratch the surface, let alone break the barrier.”

She frowned. “You don’t know that.”

“No.” I took her hands in mine. “But I do know that, if it doesn’t break, the Paedens will know we’re here, and we’ll still be stuck outside the barrier. We don’t know where Thane, Azoria, or the Oracles are, and we have no idea which, if any, Paeden deities are waiting for us inside with the derketo. So we need to figure out a way through or around this ward without alerting them.”

She rolled her eyes. “Stop trying to be cute. It’s distracting.”

“That’s the point.” I grinned.

She laughed and lightly shoved my chest. “Stop it. I’m trying to problem solve and you’re not helping.”

“But I am. You’re not blasting away, heralding our presence to the world with wanton disregard for the peasants who’d succumb to your stunning beauty.”

She swatted my arm as she slithered around back to the wall. “Hush. I’m trying to think.” Bending over, she slapped at the sandy earth near the base of the barrier. The dirt passed through with barely a shimmer. Malia pursed her lips and shoved her fingers deeper into the earth. A moment later, she shot up, clutching her hand to her chest.

“Are you okay?”

Eyes closed, she held up a claw as she hissed a breath. “I’m fine. The ward does, in fact, extend into the ground. And it’s deep enough that, even if it doesn’t go all the way down, it would take far too long to dig under.”

I frowned. “So down isn’t an option. Do you want to try over?”

She flicked her wings in annoyance and paced in a circle. “No. I don’t want my wings freezing up on me because of the barricade’s interference. I can’t tell if it’s a dome, or if it extends all the way up, but either way it’d be an unpleasant fall.”

“The mortals don’t seem to have any problem with it,” I said. It was an obvious statement, but sometimes spelling out the simple facts laid the foundation for the solution.

“Of course they don’t, they’re not divine.” Malia eyed the villagers with irritation, as if they were responsible for the ward’s creation. “But it’s weird that the barrier responds differently to each of us. If it were coded to resist deities, it should reject us both equally. And it can’t be a domain issue, because we’re both war-aspected gods. Setting it to filter by power level seems absurd, because they know that we know about it, so there’d be nothing preventing us from sending our own worshippers through. Maybe even a minor god, like Jade, could pass through if they set that kind of ward.”

Sending mortal followers through was a potential solution, but it was fairly impractical for several reasons. Getting the worshippers organized and down the river would be a logistical nightmare, not to mention they’d be completely unprotected from the Paeden pantheon once they passed inside the barrier. Plus, this was our problem to deal with. If we couldn’t handle something this simple on our own, what good were we as gods?

But that did give me an idea.

“I can get through.”

Malia’s brow furrowed as she gave me a sideways glance. “Really? How?”

“Simple. I’ll just assume a mortal avatar and pass through.”

Now her eyebrows shot up. “That easy?”

“Why not?”

“Well, for starters,” she held up her hand and ticked off on her fingers, “one, we never assume fully mortal forms. Two, you’d have to give up your divine powers with no guarantee that you could reclaim them once inside. We might as well send any old fool at that point.”

I gave her a smug look, and she scowled.

“Shush. And third—”

“You were doing numbers.” I grinned as her scowl deepened.

“And three,” she amended, “even if you can get through that way, how am I supposed to? We can’t both be powerless in there.”

“There’s no guarantee I won’t be able to recover my powers once I’m through,” I said, but Malia wasn’t reassured. “Look at it this way. If it works, at least we’ll know one way to get through.”

She just gave me a long stare that said she wasn’t convinced. Fine, time to drag out the catapults.

“Look. One of us needs to get in there.” I pointed at my chest. “I’ve had far more time to acclimate to living without my powers than you have, to the point where I still have things I’ve yet to recover. You, on the other hand,” I brushed her chin with a finger, “can barely contemplate a world that isn’t bowing in awe of your incontrovertible supremacy. How could they, if you can’t fell them with a look?”

She kissed my finger. “You’re a stubborn old ox.”

“I love you, too.”

Eyes closed, she breathed deeply and then sighed. “Fine. But if you think I’m waiting longer than a day before I stare this barrier down, consequences be damned, you’re sadly mistaken.”

I grinned. “I’ll be careful. But you need to give me at least a few days to reach Palmyra. It’s not like I can just walk down the river to reach the delta.”

“What happened to all that confidence about getting your powers back once you’re through?” Malia arched a brow at me.

“In case I don’t,” I said, laughing. “I have one contingency plan and suddenly you’re questioning?”

“Oh, piss off and go play hero.” She swatted my arm as we separated. “And don’t forget your disguise. Subtlety is hard enough for you with a face like yours.”

Now that was just uncalled for. But I smiled and we said our goodbyes, and then I pulled on worn robes more akin to a bedowin’s. Clutching a staff not unlike the one I’d left behind in my temple, but far less magical, I shed my divine essence as I slipped out from under the Veil. My joints grated like unoiled hinges, and I could feel the decades seeping back into my bones. The staff groaned as my weight settled onto it, bowing slightly as it pressed into the sand. I sagged, my shoulders like laden fruit baskets strung over my neck.

I hadn’t felt this aged since...well, before Hasda came. And it surprised me and honestly kind of scared me how far I’d fallen. I hadn’t really cared, and I’d let myself slip. I was tired and ready for a long, long rest. But all that was behind me now. And I’d use that experience to bring about my latest goal, carry my plots and Malia’s to a successful conclusion.

As I trudged past the barrier, I barely felt a tingle. The cold was gone, as was the immense pressure. Looked like the plan worked. I turned back to smile at Malia and discovered her gone. Not actually gone, but my now-mortal sight couldn’t perceive her. That was okay. Hopefully she’d be patient enough to let me make some progress before she started blasting away with her gorgon eyes.

Heh, as if.

I hopped forward, trying to scoot a little faster. No telling when she’d finally snap.


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Fri Jul 16, 2021 1:57 pm
Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

I really enjoyed this chapter! I think although it wasn't high on action, I just kinda vibed with it. I know that's vague, but something about your storytelling in this one combined with all of the sweet and hilarious Malia/Charax moments we had really helped to craft an engaging chapter that both was enjoyable to read and furthered the plot.

One thing I enjoyed was the structure of this chapter. I think your usage of starting with a sort of literary montage, where your story is being told more objectively/as an overview rather than in the moment and then going into a more in the moment type of storytelling at the end when a bigger plot point came up worked really well!! It helped you set the scene super nicely at first, and then added some action/mental stimulation later on with the dilemma of the barrier and let you explore that it more detail. Nice work!!

I also think your character work in this was spectacular. You nailed all the moments between Charax and Malia right on the head (not that you've ever missed before; you're so great at writing their dynamic.) The moment at the end, when Charax couldn't see her, felt strangely sentimental to me, and I'm not sure what about it caused that feeling. It might be the sort of callback to the beginning of the story (where Charax is all old and Malia is out of his life) or maybe it's just the way you wrote it. I don't know. But I really enjoyed it, regardless of whether I understand it or not.

Specifics

The journey down river wasn’t particularly noteworthy.


Tiny thing: "down river" should be just one word.

The Paeden river toll station did nearly succeed in drawing Malia’s ire, but I nudged her on with promises of unbridled destruction after we’d confirmed the Paedens were the ones behind all the conspiracies and sabotages.


They are literally a married couple. I love them together so much.

She rolled her eyes. “Stop trying to be cute. It’s distracting.”

“That’s the point.” I grinned.

She laughed and lightly shoved my chest. “Stop it. I’m trying to problem solve and you’re not helping.”


Oh my goodness gahhh I love them so much. This is a brilliant dynamic you have here, and I am LIVING FOR IT. *sigh* I just want what they have.

“But it’s weird that the barrier responds differently to each of us. If it were coded to resist deities, it should reject us both equally. And it can’t be a domain issue, because we’re both war-aspected gods. Setting it to filter by power level seems absurd, because they know that we know about it, so there’d be nothing preventing us from sending our own worshippers through. Maybe even a minor god, like Jade, could pass through if they set that kind of ward.”


I'm not sure if this was intentional, but the way you described this made it sound a lot like a type of computing thing. Your words like "coded" and "domain" really sold it and made it sound like a sort of magic firewall. (I guess for Malia, it really is a firewall, given what she feels when she touches it...) But anyways I thought it was a really funny nod to that, whether it was intentional or not.

Heh, as if.

I hopped forward, trying to scoot a little faster. No telling when she’d finally snap.


This was a really sweet end to the chapter!!

Overall: nice work!! I think this may be one of my favorite chapters yet!! Really looking forward to seeing what Charax discovers in the upcoming chapters... Until next time!!




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Fri Jul 16, 2021 11:44 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 another review!!

First Impression: Okayy...quite a lot of interesting magic in this one...I wonder what that is all going to be leading us...a bit more of a relaxing one too for a change....at least not that many extra problems added on this time.

Anyway let's get right to it,

The journey down river wasn’t particularly noteworthy. Palm trees, rushes, and cattails lined the banks, hiding frogs and locusts in their shadows. Despite the cool breeze slipping off the river, the heat steadily increased as we traveled, the humidity trapping and magnifying the heat.


Okay...well, relaxed looking description there to start things off...was not expecting to run into one of those all of sudden in one of these chapters...but its a fun little change here.

Of course we didn’t find just plants on the way down, either. Long, thin fishing canoes floated on the water, occupied more by Paedens than Aeneans or Carthians the further along we went. We passed a couple lesser cities, Mari and Tyana, and scattered clusters of huts near river bends where fish tended to spawn, but nothing major—like abandoned temples—to sidetrack us. The Paeden river toll station did nearly succeed in drawing Malia’s ire, but I nudged her on with promises of unbridled destruction after we’d confirmed the Paedens were the ones behind all the conspiracies and sabotages.


Okay...cool...rivers have toll stations in this world...or is that normal and I just haven't been near a river...at any rate...well, looks like this is just a nice little trip so far...I suppose what lies at the end of this trip is what's going to be causing all of the chaos to come here.

Even with our divine speed, it still took most of the day to near the barrier that demarcated where Carthian influence ended and Paeden domination began. Invisible, the obstruction served only to impede godly beings and abilities, the fishermen on the river and in the village traveling across the unseen border with ease. The block only seemed to affect scrying, as far as vision was concerned, because Malia and I had no difficulty discerning the mortals passing by us, oblivious to our presence, as they made their way from the nearby watering hole back into the village.


Okay....well, good to see them slowly deciphering all these barriers as they slowly make their way from safer territory towards their destination. It looks like these folks do have some pretty good anti divine security measures here...so they definitely don't want any foreign deities coming into their lands.

Although she had sharper senses than I did, I could still feel the effects of the barrier. If I got too close, it felt like a giant hand pressing a blanket against me. The harder I pushed, the greater the resistance. Nothing shocked me like it had Malia, and when I pressed my hand into the barrier, it was as if I’d plunged my fist into the deepest fathoms of the sea, such was the cold, crushing pressure I found. I could only keep my hand inside for a moment before the pain forced me out.


Okay...so...this is not quite a solid wall sort of barrier but the enchantment seems to just cause a loot of discomfort to these two...well, that is some pretty interesting magic there...not to mention it looks like it is going to potentially foil their journey a little bit here.

I frowned after a failed attempt to scuff my toe beneath the bottom of the block. “Any ideas?”

“No.” Malia pressed her lips together as she scratched at the sand. Simple equations in old runes spiraled out around her. After the numbers stopped dancing, she scowled at the answer they gave. “It’s like the opposite of an Oracle’s vision, but manifested as a physical object on the heavenly plane.”


I will pretend like that last sentence is something I completely understood...but in all seriousness these descriptions of the magic are properly on point here...it manages to make it not sound like they're speaking in baby terms for the benefit of the readers but also manages to paint a pretty good picture for us to get a feel for what's happening here.

“Oracle-grade magic shouldn’t be too hard to circumvent.” I rolled my knuckles against the barrier, letting the cool seep into my joints. “Obviously it’s not that simple, since it’s given the pantheon several headaches.”

“And is still keeping us outside.” Malia stood up and crossed her arms, her tail thumping in annoyance. Her eyes flicked towards my hand, which was wrist-deep in the barrier again. “Stop that.”


Well...Malia is only going to get even more annoyed I see...a barrier that they can't seem to do anything about definitely would do that to you.

“Stop what?”

“You’re making my teeth tingle just looking at it.” She shivered. “How can you stand the pain? I can barely touch it.”

“It’s not that bad.” And I wasn’t trying to show off or impress her, it really didn’t hurt that much. My hand had started going numb to the cold, and the pressure wasn’t any worse than pushing against a marble column, if I didn’t shove too fast or too deep.


Hmm...Charax being a skeleton possibly coming in handy here...or is their something deeper going on here than just that, cause it does look like Malia is genuinely unable to do much more than touch the thing.

“Are you serious?” Malia poked the barrier again and yanked her hand away as static sparked. Scowling, she shook her hand and glared at me. “You can’t honestly tell me you don’t feel the heart of a hundred thunderstorms raging across your arm. It doesn’t even remotely feel like Phaeus’ forge?”

I shrugged. “Feels more like the bottom of the ocean to me. Cold, wet, and an immense amount of pressure.”


Well, that is a very interesting set of very opposite reactions there...I do wonder what could possible be causing something like that...it doesn't seem like this is some sort of selective barrier that makes every person feel a different kind of horrible.

Malia folded her arms and pouted. “That’s not fair. I could handle the cold much better than electricity.”

“It’s not like I told it how to feel.”

“I know.” She shook her head and shot the barrier another glare. Her eyes started shifting, and she unfolded her arms as she squared off against the barricade. “I have an idea.”


As much as Malia is my favorite character, I have a feeling she is about to do something properly crazy and very unsafe here...she's been constantly annoyed for far too long without doing something ridiculous to something and a barrier seems like a good candidate to take your anger out on.

I put a hand on her shoulder and angled between her and the invisible boundary. “Oh no.”

“What?” She gave me an innocent look.

“No gorgon’s gaze. You’d probably need to go full astral to even scratch the surface, let alone break the barrier.”

She frowned. “You don’t know that.”


I do love how Charax is able to immediately deduce what she was planning to do...cause well, I was thinking it was going to be more along the lines of her using Charax as a way to get in...but well...this is definitely going to be much worse for the mission itself.

“No.” I took her hands in mine. “But I do know that, if it doesn’t break, the Paedens will know we’re here, and we’ll still be stuck outside the barrier. We don’t know where Thane, Azoria, or the Oracles are, and we have no idea which, if any, Paeden deities are waiting for us inside with the derketo. So we need to figure out a way through or around this ward without alerting them.”


Welll, those are some rather solid points there...although I guess you can't actually do anything while being outside the barrier so that does seem like perhaps a risk worth taking maybe.

She rolled her eyes. “Stop trying to be cute. It’s distracting.”

“That’s the point.” I grinned.

She laughed and lightly shoved my chest. “Stop it. I’m trying to problem solve and you’re not helping.”


Ahh...these little moments in between all the serious chaos is the actual best thing to randomly run into here and there.

“But I am. You’re not blasting away, heralding our presence to the world with wanton disregard for the peasants who’d succumb to your stunning beauty.”

She swatted my arm as she slithered around back to the wall. “Hush. I’m trying to think.” Bending over, she slapped at the sandy earth near the base of the barrier. The dirt passed through with barely a shimmer. Malia pursed her lips and shoved her fingers deeper into the earth. A moment later, she shot up, clutching her hand to her chest.


Well it looks like that ward extends underground as well...which is pretty much expected, it wouldn't be much of a barrier against divine being if you could simply tunnel under the thing and defeat it.

“Are you okay?”

Eyes closed, she held up a claw as she hissed a breath. “I’m fine. The ward does, in fact, extend into the ground. And it’s deep enough that, even if it doesn’t go all the way down, it would take far too long to dig under.”

I frowned. “So down isn’t an option. Do you want to try over?”


Well, I highly doubt something that doesn't let you dig under it is going to let you just fly over it, flying over things seems like a thing that a lot of gods would be able to pull of without tooo much trouble.

She flicked her wings in annoyance and paced in a circle. “No. I don’t want my wings freezing up on me because of the barricade’s interference. I can’t tell if it’s a dome, or if it extends all the way up, but either way it’d be an unpleasant fall.”

“The mortals don’t seem to have any problem with it,” I said. It was an obvious statement, but sometimes spelling out the simple facts laid the foundation for the solution.


Well, too bad they can't actually transform into mortals or something and trick the barrier somehow...

“Of course they don’t, they’re not divine.” Malia eyed the villagers with irritation, as if they were responsible for the ward’s creation. “But it’s weird that the barrier responds differently to each of us. If it were coded to resist deities, it should reject us both equally. And it can’t be a domain issue, because we’re both war-aspected gods. Setting it to filter by power level seems absurd, because they know that we know about it, so there’d be nothing preventing us from sending our own worshippers through. Maybe even a minor god, like Jade, could pass through if they set that kind of ward.”


Hmm, well this is a conversation I didn't know I needed to hear..but ahh, discussing the various ways this barrier could've been coded to stop people from entering makes for an awesome little paragraph here.

Sending mortal followers through was a potential solution, but it was fairly impractical for several reasons. Getting the worshippers organized and down the river would be a logistical nightmare, not to mention they’d be completely unprotected from the Paeden pantheon once they passed inside the barrier. Plus, this was our problem to deal with. If we couldn’t handle something this simple on our own, what good were we as gods?


Yeah, its generally not a god idea to send a horde of mortals to do a deities, that just never seems to quite work out well...speaking from experience on that one...

But that did give me an idea.

“I can get through.”

Malia’s brow furrowed as she gave me a sideways glance. “Really? How?”

“Simple. I’ll just assume a mortal avatar and pass through.”


They can do that?? It doesn't seem like that should be something that's actually possible, you can be a mortal avatar but I'm assuming their divinity is not something they can just decide to turn off there.

Now her eyebrows shot up. “That easy?”

“Why not?”

“Well, for starters,” she held up her hand and ticked off on her fingers, “one, we never assume fully mortal forms. Two, you’d have to give up your divine powers with no guarantee that you could reclaim them once inside. We might as well send any old fool at that point.”


Well...not going to lie...she has some good points there, it looks its time for Charax to listen to some logic here.

I gave her a smug look, and she scowled.

“Shush. And third—”

“You were doing numbers.” I grinned as her scowl deepened.

“And three,” she amended, “even if you can get through that way, how am I supposed to? We can’t both be powerless in there.”


Yeah, considering what that creatures was like, walking into a nest of them completely powerless would be a worse plan than sending in a horde of mortals to do the job.

“There’s no guarantee I won’t be able to recover my powers once I’m through,” I said, but Malia wasn’t reassured. “Look at it this way. If it works, at least we’ll know one way to get through.”

She just gave me a long stare that said she wasn’t convinced. Fine, time to drag out the catapults.


I don't think she was convinced by that argument there...

“Look. One of us needs to get in there.” I pointed at my chest. “I’ve had far more time to acclimate to living without my powers than you have, to the point where I still have things I’ve yet to recover. You, on the other hand,” I brushed her chin with a finger, “can barely contemplate a world that isn’t bowing in awe of your incontrovertible supremacy. How could they, if you can’t fell them with a look?”

She kissed my finger. “You’re a stubborn old ox.”

“I love you, too.”


Firstly, he's got a pretty good point there as to why he should be doing this instead of her and secondly, that was ahhh...things have no right being this sweet in the middle of a crisis like this. :D

Eyes closed, she breathed deeply and then sighed. “Fine. But if you think I’m waiting longer than a day before I stare this barrier down, consequences be damned, you’re sadly mistaken.”

I grinned. “I’ll be careful. But you need to give me at least a few days to reach Palmyra. It’s not like I can just walk down the river to reach the delta.”


Well....walking is quite slow..especially when you don't have divine powers and considering how good the enchantment has been so far, I do believe he will be unable to access his powers once inside.

“What happened to all that confidence about getting your powers back once you’re through?” Malia arched a brow at me.

“In case I don’t,” I said, laughing. “I have one contingency plan and suddenly you’re questioning?”

“Oh, piss off and go play hero.” She swatted my arm as we separated. “And don’t forget your disguise. Subtlety is hard enough for you with a face like yours.”


Aaand Charax is off on a very dangerous stroll all on his own...well this can't possibly go wrong in any way at all.

Now that was just uncalled for. But I smiled and we said our goodbyes, and then I pulled on worn robes more akin to a bedowin’s. Clutching a staff not unlike the one I’d left behind in my temple, but far less magical, I shed my divine essence as I slipped out from under the Veil. My joints grated like unoiled hinges, and I could feel the decades seeping back into my bones. The staff groaned as my weight settled onto it, bowing slightly as it pressed into the sand. I sagged, my shoulders like laden fruit baskets strung over my neck.

I hadn’t felt this aged since...well, before Hasda came. And it surprised me and honestly kind of scared me how far I’d fallen. I hadn’t really cared, and I’d let myself slip. I was tired and ready for a long, long rest. But all that was behind me now. And I’d use that experience to bring about my latest goal, carry my plots and Malia’s to a successful conclusion.


Well, that's a humbling reminder of exactly where he was at when this story got off the ground...good to see a little bit of a callback to that..cause wow, that was quite a while ago...cause oh my gosh, we're over thirty chapters in at this point.

As I trudged past the barrier, I barely felt a tingle. The cold was gone, as was the immense pressure. Looked like the plan worked. I turned back to smile at Malia and discovered her gone. Not actually gone, but my now-mortal sight couldn’t perceive her. That was okay. Hopefully she’d be patient enough to let me make some progress before she started blasting away with her gorgon eyes.

Heh, as if.

I hopped forward, trying to scoot a little faster. No telling when she’d finally snap.


And now commence the montage of Charax hobbling his way to this cityy....

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, another pretty solid little chapter....should be quite exciting to see how Charax pulls of this little mission here and how long Malia can remain patient...all in all, looks like the next chapter is set to be a fun one here.

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

Stay Safe
Harry





These were autumn mornings, the time of year when kings of old went forth to conquest; and I, never stirring from my little corner in Calcutta, would let my mind wander over the whole world.
— Rabindranath Tagore, The Cabuliwallah