z
  • Home

Young Writers Society


16+ Language

The Many Gifts of Malia--Part 4: "The Journey"

by dragonfphoenix


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

Morning came, and with it two kinds of chill. The first was normal, that dewy crispness every new day brings. But the second was of loss. My companion, the friendship he brought, and the future priesthood he would leave behind. It didn’t bother me he had grown up and wanted to find his way in the world. Oh no, that was not the trouble.

It was that blasted woman and her meddling. I pulled my robes tight against me, feeling the weight of the unread scroll in my pocket. I gritted my teeth. She could take Hasda, but she would not have me. With Hasda gone and walking the path of mortality, I would be free to return to my retirement. Peace at last.

His sandals scuffed the steps as he emerged from the cellar just before the break of dawn. Arms folded, I watched him as he shrugged on his sack, his bow and a handful of arrows nestled in the quiver. He smiled, the morning light making his face a second sunrise. I tried not to frown at the thought. Sentimentality had never been my forte.

“So,” I said, breaking the stillness of the morn. “Where are we meeting her?”

His eyes lit up. “We?”

Whoops. I sighed, my shoulders sagging. “Yes, ‘we.’ I’d not leave you to navigate Nebesa on your own. Especially not,” I frowned deeply, “with Malia as your patron. But I am only dropping you off. We’ll say our goodbyes in the Halls, once you’ve met up with her, and then I’ll return home. Now where shall we go?”

The light in his eyes dimmed a bit, but he bolstered himself and flashed a smile. “Malia said you’d know the way.”

“Did she now?” I chuckled as I descended the stairs of the throne pedestal, my robes swishing off each one. I really would have to get the hem taken in. Maybe I could snatch a tailor in Nebesa…

“What’s so funny?”

I smiled and patted him on the shoulder as I pushed him, gently, towards the temple doors. “How did she expect you to come if I didn’t go with you?”

“She said you would, though.” His brow knit in confusion and he stumbled forward to match my stride.

“Indeed.” I laughed and shook my head. “She plays her games well, Hasda. You should always remember to look for snares, even in the most unlikely spots.”

“While I thank you for the advice, how does that—?”

“She would have left you here, if I did not take you.” I fixed his eyes with my own. My joints creaked, partly age, partly anger. “There was no plan for her to claim you without me, because she never plans to fail and she would always find another. You are mortal, and therefore expendable.”

“That’s not how she’s treated me thus far.” His face was a mask of confusion my words couldn’t get through. And of course they wouldn’t. He was an honest child, and had no reason to expect guile from a god. Why would he? The one who’d raised him had always had his best interest at heart.

“It isn’t, because it’s never been about you, Hasda.” We descended the temple steps, he with vigor and certainty, and I hobbling like a drunken sailor. The sun had yet to reach high enough to burn away the morning dew. “When we arrive, she will sing your praises and arm you with weapons and armor that are absolutely divine. Your clothes will feel like woven leaves, and your bow like a discarded stick. Once you’re sufficiently flattered and disoriented, she will flaunt her position over me and highlight all that I have lost. It’s been too long for me to say whether she’ll send you away or gloat in your presence, but I rather think she’ll keep you there as a reminder, to me, of whose champion you’re becoming.”

He frowned and went a little stiff in the shoulders. “That seems petty and out of her character. She’s been every bit a goddess thus far.”

“Ah, and there lies your fatal flaws.” I wagged a finger at him. We’d crossed the field and were nearly at the trees. Funny how quickly a familiar path passes beneath one’s feet. “You confuse divinity for nobility and character for charade.”

“None of the other gods talk about her like this.” He ducked beneath the branch at the entrance to the forest path, brushing his hand against the bark. He’d always loved that tree and refused to let me trim it even as he grew and had to stoop to pass it. And he was horrible at these word games.

“And what other gods have you met?” I asked, phasing through the branch. Though passing through physical objects was child’s play, opening the portal would take more effort and attention. Already I could feel the old magic tugging at my feet as I sought the strings to the portal latch. It was distracting, but not enough to let that little detail of his fraternizing with the pantheon slip by.

“Uh, I’ve only met Malia and the pale, skinny one that follows her around.” His ears went a little pink. “So I guess ‘god’ is more accurate.”

Pale, skinny…

“Does this skinny one happen to have a name?”

He shrugged and glanced back over his shoulder. Eager to be off, that one was, because he was five strides ahead of me when he usually stayed by my side. His arrows rattled with each step. “He never said.”

Strange.

I leaned against my walking staff, waving away his concern as he stopped. Grunting, I pushed myself up, my joints squealing in protest, and pondered when I’d grabbed the staff. I hadn’t left the temple with it.

I shook my head. Time was slipping again, far too often now. I needed to deposit Hasda safely with Malia, or at least as safe as he could be in her presence, before my mind gave completely. It might take another decade or two for my consciousness to give completely, but I didn’t want to risk an episode with him still present. Had he been my priest, perhaps he could have helped ease the passage, and certainly drawn it out past his own mortality, but such was my lot in life and his.

Gripping my staff, I strode down the path with as much confidence and poise as I could muster, gesturing him on as I passed him. He trotted up behind me and, blessedly, decided to hang back this time. My feet thumped against the dirt, kicking up leaves as I went. Hasda kept his footsteps light, his weight on his toes.

“What signs of office did he bear?” I asked.

Hasda gave me a bewildered look. “I’m sorry?”

“Did he carry any objects, artifacts, magical glowing signs that said ‘famine, disease, hunger,’ things like that?”

“Oh.” Hasda thought for a moment. “He wore a black toga and had a scythe at his waist. Is that what you meant?”

I stumbled as my feet froze up. In a heartbeat Hasda was kneeling before me, helping me get back up. Stupid forest magic.

“Are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” I grumbled. “You just surprised me, is all. That sounds like my old apprentice.” I brushed the dirt off as Hasda stared at me.

“You had an apprentice?” He looked like I’d told him foxes grew on trees. “Like me?”

“No.” I shook my head and made my way down the path. The forest magic was building, and the portal was almost ready. “Not like you. He was divine before I met him. So if you have delusions about becoming a god yourself, kindly discard them.”

Maybe that was a little too harsh. He looked deflated, had that little kicked puppy face he made sometimes when his feelings were hurt but he didn’t want to tell me. I sighed and patted him on the shoulder. Static jumped from my bones to his skin, shocking us both. We jumped.

I shook my hand as he gathered his feet back under him. “Consider this my arming you with knowledge. I can’t teach you everything you need to know about dealing with gods, besides me, in a day, and perhaps I should have planned for that, but here we are.”

I raised my hands, creating a circle of orange magic that hung in the air. Vicious fire sparked around the ring, spitting more sparks than a spot welder. The circle grew ovaloid and expanded until it became a portal large enough for both of us to walk through. As I looked back at him, I found his face far less impressed than I’d hoped. I frowned. “See magic like this every day, do you?”

His face puckered, and I realized he was biting back a laugh.

“What?”

“I’m sorry. It’s just that Malia’s is bigger.”

Blasted woman.

“Oh ho ho, funny guy now, are you?” I grunted and tugged on his arm. “Come on, your lady is waiting.”

And with that, we stepped through the portal.


Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
4223 Reviews

Points: 290052
Reviews: 4223

Donate
Mon May 24, 2021 5:26 am
KateHardy wrote a review...



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

Hi! I'm baaaack...this is probably gonna get old for you fast...xD...so I'm trying to change it up maybe...or am I...well...here goes the third review at any rate...

First Impression: Well...well...here we go...we're definitely getting very much convinced of the fact that our friendly old god here is gonna not participate here...but hmm..I suppose we shall find out soon.

Anyway let's get right to it,

Morning came, and with it two kinds of chill. The first was normal, that dewy crispness every new day brings. But the second was of loss. My companion, the friendship he brought, and the future priesthood he would leave behind. It didn’t bother me he had grown up and wanted to find his way in the world. Oh no, that was not the trouble.

It was that blasted woman and her meddling. I pulled my robes tight against me, feeling the weight of the unread scroll in my pocket. I gritted my teeth. She could take Hasda, but she would not have me. With Hasda gone and walking the path of mortality, I would be free to return to my retirement. Peace at last.


Oh well...dang it...he was somehow not tempted enough to read that...on the bright maybe he can finally have his peaceful retirement I suppose...that would be somewhat of a win I guess.

His sandals scuffed the steps as he emerged from the cellar just before the break of dawn. Arms folded, I watched him as he shrugged on his sack, his bow and a handful of arrows nestled in the quiver. He smiled, the morning light making his face a second sunrise. I tried not to frown at the thought. Sentimentality had never been my forte.

“So,” I said, breaking the stillness of the morn. “Where are we meeting her?”

His eyes lit up. “We?”


Oooh....giving the poor boy some false hope there....definitely a very bad slip of the tongue there.

Whoops. I sighed, my shoulders sagging. “Yes, ‘we.’ I’d not leave you to navigate Nebesa on your own. Especially not,” I frowned deeply, “with Malia as your patron. But I am only dropping you off. We’ll say our goodbyes in the Halls, once you’ve met up with her, and then I’ll return home. Now where shall we go?”

The light in his eyes dimmed a bit, but he bolstered himself and flashed a smile. “Malia said you’d know the way.”


Well...I guess he definitely would know the way.

“Did she now?” I chuckled as I descended the stairs of the throne pedestal, my robes swishing off each one. I really would have to get the hem taken in. Maybe I could snatch a tailor in Nebesa…

“What’s so funny?”

I smiled and patted him on the shoulder as I pushed him, gently, towards the temple doors. “How did she expect you to come if I didn’t go with you?”


Hmm...well...that just shows just how confident Malia was in her plan...and I'm pretty sure she didn't have a backup...she doesn't sound like someone that would have a backup...

“She said you would, though.” His brow knit in confusion and he stumbled forward to match my stride.

“Indeed.” I laughed and shook my head. “She plays her games well, Hasda. You should always remember to look for snares, even in the most unlikely spots.”

“While I thank you for the advice, how does that—?”


Well...it wouldn't be a fantasy novel if we didn't have potentially super vague advice that ends up playing an important role down the line.

“She would have left you here, if I did not take you.” I fixed his eyes with my own. My joints creaked, partly age, partly anger. “There was no plan for her to claim you without me, because she never plans to fail and she would always find another. You are mortal, and therefore expendable.”


Immortals do have a tendency to do that sadly...can't deny that one.

“That’s not how she’s treated me thus far.” His face was a mask of confusion my words couldn’t get through. And of course they wouldn’t. He was an honest child, and had no reason to expect guile from a god. Why would he? The one who’d raised him had always had his best interest at heart.


Hmm...that does seem like it would lead to a situation like that...which is terrible for him...but ehh...on the bright it reinforces how good Charax here has been.

“It isn’t, because it’s never been about you, Hasda.” We descended the temple steps, he with vigor and certainty, and I hobbling like a drunken sailor. The sun had yet to reach high enough to burn away the morning dew. “When we arrive, she will sing your praises and arm you with weapons and armor that are absolutely divine. Your clothes will feel like woven leaves, and your bow like a discarded stick. Once you’re sufficiently flattered and disoriented, she will flaunt her position over me and highlight all that I have lost. It’s been too long for me to say whether she’ll send you away or gloat in your presence, but I rather think she’ll keep you there as a reminder, to me, of whose champion you’re becoming.”


Well he definitely has Malia's plan memorized...and well...you can very clearly see exactly what kind of a picture he has of her and her plans.

He frowned and went a little stiff in the shoulders. “That seems petty and out of her character. She’s been every bit a goddess thus far.”

“Ah, and there lies your fatal flaws.” I wagged a finger at him. We’d crossed the field and were nearly at the trees. Funny how quickly a familiar path passes beneath one’s feet. “You confuse divinity for nobility and character for charade.”


Hmm...well...let's see where this gets us...I kind of want to believe she has genuinely been nice but then I would definitely not mind if Hasda has simply been misled here...so...just a casual win win situation there.

“None of the other gods talk about her like this.” He ducked beneath the branch at the entrance to the forest path, brushing his hand against the bark. He’d always loved that tree and refused to let me trim it even as he grew and had to stoop to pass it. And he was horrible at these word games.


Well...that's an interesting statement...

“And what other gods have you met?” I asked, phasing through the branch. Though passing through physical objects was child’s play, opening the portal would take more effort and attention. Already I could feel the old magic tugging at my feet as I sought the strings to the portal latch. It was distracting, but not enough to let that little detail of his fraternizing with the pantheon slip by.


Oooh...casual reference to the magic of this world is casual...and I absolutely low how inconspicuously you explain how it works blending it seamlessly into the story. Not a lot of people pull that off.

“Uh, I’ve only met Malia and the pale, skinny one that follows her around.” His ears went a little pink. “So I guess ‘god’ is more accurate.”

Pale, skinny…

“Does this skinny one happen to have a name?”


Ooooh...the pale skinny one appears to be quite interesting here.

He shrugged and glanced back over his shoulder. Eager to be off, that one was, because he was five strides ahead of me when he usually stayed by my side. His arrows rattled with each step. “He never said.”

Strange.


Strange indeed....

I leaned against my walking staff, waving away his concern as he stopped. Grunting, I pushed myself up, my joints squealing in protest, and pondered when I’d grabbed the staff. I hadn’t left the temple with it.

I shook my head. Time was slipping again, far too often now. I needed to deposit Hasda safely with Malia, or at least as safe as he could be in her presence, before my mind gave completely. It might take another decade or two for my consciousness to give completely, but I didn’t want to risk an episode with him still present. Had he been my priest, perhaps he could have helped ease the passage, and certainly drawn it out past his own mortality, but such was my lot in life and his.


Ooof...well that certainly raises the stakes a bit there...showcasing just how weak and close to potentially death our immortal friend here is judging by that paragraph.

Gripping my staff, I strode down the path with as much confidence and poise as I could muster, gesturing him on as I passed him. He trotted up behind me and, blessedly, decided to hang back this time. My feet thumped against the dirt, kicking up leaves as I went. Hasda kept his footsteps light, his weight on his toes.

“What signs of office did he bear?” I asked.


Hmm...well...the probing questions begin I suppose....definitely seems like a smart way to figure who it is.

Hasda gave me a bewildered look. “I’m sorry?”

“Did he carry any objects, artifacts, magical glowing signs that said ‘famine, disease, hunger,’ things like that?”

“Oh.” Hasda thought for a moment. “He wore a black toga and had a scythe at his waist. Is that what you meant?”


Hmm...those definitely sound like they could provide useful clues.

I stumbled as my feet froze up. In a heartbeat Hasda was kneeling before me, helping me get back up. Stupid forest magic.

“Are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” I grumbled. “You just surprised me, is all. That sounds like my old apprentice.” I brushed the dirt off as Hasda stared at me.


Oooh...now that could be really interesting if his guess is right here.

“You had an apprentice?” He looked like I’d told him foxes grew on trees. “Like me?”

“No.” I shook my head and made my way down the path. The forest magic was building, and the portal was almost ready. “Not like you. He was divine before I met him. So if you have delusions about becoming a god yourself, kindly discard them.”


Phew...that one was indeed a hard and fast squash there....good on him though...making it abundantly clear right away so that Hasda doesn't have any false hope at all.

Maybe that was a little too harsh. He looked deflated, had that little kicked puppy face he made sometimes when his feelings were hurt but he didn’t want to tell me. I sighed and patted him on the shoulder. Static jumped from my bones to his skin, shocking us both. We jumped.

I shook my hand as he gathered his feet back under him. “Consider this my arming you with knowledge. I can’t teach you everything you need to know about dealing with gods, besides me, in a day, and perhaps I should have planned for that, but here we are.”


Well I'm sure he will do the best he can with the little bit of time that they have..

I raised my hands, creating a circle of orange magic that hung in the air. Vicious fire sparked around the ring, spitting more sparks than a spot welder. The circle grew ovaloid and expanded until it became a portal large enough for both of us to walk through. As I looked back at him, I found his face far less impressed than I’d hoped. I frowned. “See magic like this every day, do you?”


Well...definitely is a fairly impressive sounding portal...although I'm sure Malia has made certain that he's seen some far more impressive ones just to get this reaction out of our poor guy here.

His face puckered, and I realized he was biting back a laugh.

“What?”

“I’m sorry. It’s just that Malia’s is bigger.”

Blasted woman.


Yup...I called that...

“Oh ho ho, funny guy now, are you?” I grunted and tugged on his arm. “Come on, your lady is waiting.”

And with that, we stepped through the portal.


Well, well, well...and they are through the portal...well let's see where this takes us then, shall we?

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Well...this ended quite on a nice note...looks like Hasda is going to be severely disappointed here...but I have a feeling this lady here is going to have more of a plan once our guy actually gets there.

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

Stay Safe
Harry




User avatar
255 Reviews

Points: 25380
Reviews: 255

Donate
Fri Feb 26, 2021 1:47 am
Spearmint wrote a review...



Hi, this is Spearmint! I’ve just sped through the first three chapters (seriously, this reads more like a published novel than a work in progress) and now I’m finally stopping for a review! :) So, getting right to it:

It didn’t bother me he had grown up and wanted to find his way in the world. Oh no, that was not the trouble.

It was that blasted woman and her meddling.

Haha I have to say, I love Charax’s character! He’s grumpy but you can tell that he’s good at heart, and his narration is hilarious. I hope Charax stays in this novel for as long as possible! (I’m a little worried that his consciousness is fading... o.O)

Anyways, I think all the dialogue here is great (the banter between Charax and Hasda is a pleasure to read!), and the plot flows super smoothly as well. One thing that could be clarified, though...
Already I could feel the old magic tugging at my feet as I sought the strings to the portal latch.

I was a little confused about the magic here. Are the “strings” physically real or are they magical constructs that only Charax can see? And what is the “portal latch”— is it the way to activate the portal? It’d be great if you could either explain those concepts to the reader, or have Charax do something a little more understandable, like draw in energy from the forest or something.
Vicious fire sparked around the ring, spitting more sparks than a spot welder.

About the portal, it’s cool that it’s fiery (very dramatic and magical), but I was having trouble visualizing a “spot welder” (I’ve never seen one before; forgive me for being so uncultured). If you think most readers would be able to understand that part, then please disregard this suggestion, but if not, I’d suggest tweaking the description a little. However, I do love that after Charax creates the portal, Hasda is like, “Malia’s is bigger” and Charax is all annoyed; that gave me a good laugh. XD
Overall, this was super fun to read and I can’t wait to start the next chapter! Great work!




dragonfphoenix says...


Hey! Thanks, I'm glad you've been enjoying the story so far. It's been a blast to write. With the way I'm writing this story, I'm planning on cleaning up a lot in editing once the novel's finished, so I'll add retouching the magic to the list.

Welders are the tools machinists use to connect plates of metal and fix metal holes and such, the thing that makes *a ton* of sparks. If you've ever seen a movie character pull a black mask down before they start working on something and sparks start flying, that's a welder. A spot welder is a specific kind that looks like a giant copper clamp. They're really cool if you get the chance to see them



dragonfphoenix says...


Hey! Thanks, I'm glad you've been enjoying the story so far. It's been a blast to write. With the way I'm writing this story, I'm planning on cleaning up a lot in editing once the novel's finished, so I'll add retouching the magic to the list.

Welders are the tools machinists use to connect plates of metal and fix metal holes and such, the thing that makes *a ton* of sparks. If you've ever seen a movie character pull a black mask down before they start working on something and sparks start flying, that's a welder. A spot welder is a specific kind that looks like a giant copper clamp. They're really cool if you get the chance to see them



Spearmint says...


Ohhh that%u2019s what a welder is! XD Yeah I%u2019ve seen them before; I guess I just never knew the proper name for them. Cool, I learned something new!
Also thanks for replying to my review, it%u2019s nice to know that my comments are being read :p. Once again, your story is awesome and I%u2019ll be waiting eagerly for the next installment!



User avatar
684 Reviews

Points: 84248
Reviews: 684

Donate
Thu Feb 18, 2021 2:14 pm
View Likes
Plume wrote a review...



Hey! Plume here, with a review!!

Once again, you managed to keep me hooked in to the very last moment. Reading your work never feels tedious or like a chore. It's super professional and I really enjoy reading every bit of it.

One thing I think you did really well was the pacing of this section. I thought that it was a perfect mixture of the narrator's thoughts and his interactions with Hasda. It's really nice seeing that reluctant affection he has for him, and his inner thoughts really work well to drive the story along. It's an underutilized resource in a lot of fiction, I think, and you've really employed it beautifully. You use the inner thoughts as both a source of characterization and exposition, but the way you do it doesn't feel like infodumping or like you're trying to force it down the reader's throat. It's really nice, so well done!

The story is also progressing really nicely. I'm super pumped to see what happens next, and I'm curious if you're going to keep telling it from Charax's perspective. As of now, it looks like he won't be going on the little quest/adventure thing that Hasda is going on, so I'm wondering if he has his own thing he's going to be doing, or if he's going to get roped into the adventure. Either way, I'm really excited to see what comes next. (I also am really pumped to meet Malia, whenever that may be.)

Specifics

“You confuse divinity for nobility and character for charade.”


This is a magnificent sentence, but I just have one critique. For the second part, with "character for charade," it makes it sound like Hasda thinks that peoples' characters are charades, rather than the other way around. It leads to a more mistrustful view rather than the naive view I think you were going for. I'd fix it just by switching the order, so it says "You confuse divinity for nobility and charade for character.”

Overall: really nice job!! I'm looking forward to reading the next bit. Keep it up!!




dragonfphoenix says...


Thanks! From a storytelling perspective, I've really enjoyed writing this in serial format because it's forced me to hyper-focus on the single scene of each section. Good pacing and engaging tension have been pleasant side effects of this method, so if you've never tried it in your own stories, I'd definitely recommend expirimenting!

Good catch on the word order.




Nothing is impossible, for the word itself says, 'I'm possible!'
— Audrey Hepburn