Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Novel / Chapter » Fantasy

16+ Language

The Many Gifts of Malia--Part 46: "The Escape"

by dragonfphoenix


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

Lazuli didn’t take too kindly to the rejection. Her brow furrowed as her eyes bored into mine.

“How...flippant you are.” She took a step forward, then glanced down in disgust at the water sloshing underfoot. “Disgraceful, like your constant allusions to a wife who can only pale in comparison to the great Sea Mother.”

“Well, now, there you might be wrong.” I adjusted my grip on my staff and stepped sideways, edging towards where Thane kneeled. Although his head was bowed, his hair obscuring his eyes, I knew he wasn’t just sitting idle. Any moment now he’d have gathered enough energy to open his own portal, and then we’d be out of here.

Nanshe thrashed in the water, foaming at the mouth.

I frowned. Or maybe not. We couldn’t just leave her like that, to suffer whatever recreational torture a millenia-enslaved elder goddess had dreamed up during her internment. Or Lazuli, for that matter.

The harpy followed my gaze. “Surely...surely not her?”

“Beg your pardon?”

“I mean, cross-pantheon pollination isn’t unheard of.” Lazuli grimaced. “But I would never have thought—”

“Oh, no. No love lost there.” I kept my feet beneath the surface of the water to keep from splashing and drawing attention to my movement. “Nanshe might be unpleasant, but she’s got nothing on my wife.”

“What a possessive phrase, ‘your wife.’” Lazuli scowled as she stumbled through the water. Her wings flared, casting a spray of excess energy into the air. “Does she have a name?”

“Names carry weight and power,” I said, continuing to back away. “And if you don’t already know who she is, well, I’d rather not give you a head start on learning her history and what she’s capable of.”

“So you expect to side against us.” She gained on me, but she hadn’t all-out attacked me yet, so that was something. But I didn’t think my spear would be able to do much damage. For all I knew, her quick regeneration might just heal with the spear still inside her, and then I’d really be in a spot.

“I’m not particularly keen on fighting anyone right now.”

Thane needed to hurry up because I really didn’t like the atmosphere. The air was heavy and growing thick with Tamiyat’s influence, weighing down on me like an ocean of sand. Undercurrents of power crackled through the humidity, lacing the air with the stench of spent lightning. Worst of all was the smell spilling off Lazuli, singed hair, burnt flesh, the decay of a day-old corpse. She probably couldn’t smell herself, but she should have at least sensed the havoc that excess power was wreaking on her body.

She snapped her beak, misreading my expression. “The only one worthy of pity is you, old coward. We’re not afraid of the established pantheons. The Sea Mother has prepared for you. If you will not bow, you will be crushed.”

“Consider this an invitation to come visit, when you’re settled into your new territory.” Not liking the slant of her footing, I shifted my grip and prepared for her to charge. “Thane.”

“Kinda busy.” His voice was soft and raspy, like he’d been trying to out-scream a snowstorm for several hours.

“I think you dropped something.” My eyes never left Lazuli’s. She had absolutely no warface, her next movements plainly signaled. A drop of her shoulders, a twist of her hips. If she were going to pounce, it was going to be soon. “Want me to pick it up for you.”

“Sure,” he gasped.

A thunderclap as Lazuli lunged forward. The water cratered behind her, geysers whipping the air as she shot forward. I barely managed to angle my spear in time, and even then the impact rattled my bones and nearly snapped my wrists. The shaft slammed into my chest, knocking the wind out of me, and Lazuli bounced to the side. Her landing was far from graceful, and the water did nothing to soften the blow. I was fairly sure she’d snapped her wing, with how it twisted out of the water.

“Time to go!” I vanished my spear and sprinted as best I could through the water. To my right, Thane slowly rose to his feet, thick mist spilling off him as he toyed with the strings of his portal, nearly freezing the water beneath him in the process. How many souls—didn’t matter, we needed to get out of here. I stumbled to a halt next to Nanshe and scooped her out of the water. Her severed tentacles had stopped oozing ichor but were uncomfortably slimy and seeped through my drenched robes, as if supplanting the water.

When I turned towards Thane’s minty green portal, Lazuli was venting twin helixes of fuschia-colored energy far into the sky. I didn’t know what that meant, and I didn’t care to find out. Half hobbling, half jogging, I carried Nanshe a dozen or so yards to Thane and dashed through the portal. A moment later, Thane slipped in behind me and sealed the rent.

Inside the air was balmy and soothing, warmed by the fields of heated sand that filled Maas Myrna. I’d still never worked out why Thane preferred miles and miles of unending, gritty, irritating sand, but this was the Maas he’d chosen as his own and he’d never given it a second thought. The fruity aroma wafting across the wind was a new addition, but didn’t feel out of place with the backdrop of an eternally golden sky.

Sighing, Thane took the opportunity to collapse face-first in the sand. Whatever he said, I couldn’t make out since he left his mouth submerged beneath the coarse granules. But the sentiment carried.

Familiar power pulsed through my veins, refreshing and reviving me. It was hard to explain, that dull throbbing beneath the surface of consciousness, and how utterly hostile the magic of the Paeden lands had been. Yet the contrast was only clear once we returned to the pure, Carthian magic.

Nanshe didn’t like it, however, and started jerking in my arms, still unconscious. Or maybe it was the heat. Either way, she was reacting to something, and I only knew of one quickly accessible water source.

“Get up. I’m taking Nanshe to my place.”

He mumbled something else and made a pathetic sand angel.

“Stop whining.” My portal flared to life beside me reassuringly quick and wonderfully solid. “Get off your butt and let’s go. When she’s awake, you can help me recover the Oracles’ souls.”

Still mumbling unintelligibly, he pushed sand around as he waved his hand at me.

I sighed, one foot already through the portal. “You need to speak up, and be quick. It’s hard enough trying to keep ahold of her when she’s not spasming like this.”

Thane flopped onto his side. “You do it.”

“What? Why?”

“I’m tired.”

“All right, you’re obviously depressed because of all the souls you extinguished—”

“This isn’t about that,” he said, propping his head up on his arm. “I suck at being the God of Death. Those Oracles would’ve never been harvested by Nanshe if you’d still been in office.”

Frowning, I set the unconscious queen on the flagstones of the maas and sealed the portal. She didn’t look like she’d be waking up anytime soon, and even if she did, she couldn’t escape from the maas, even in her best shape. Arms folded, I stared down at Thane. “What’s this all about?”

“What do you mean, ‘What’s this all about?’” He laughed and collapsed back onto the sand on his back. His robes rose and fell with his breathing. “You’ve always been the better God of Death. I only assumed the role because you’d trained me for so long, and you were so eager to get to your retirement.”

“I had centuries of experience on you before you took office, of course I performed my duties better than you.” He must have absorbed a ton of souls to be feeling this level of aftereffect. Stripping souls of their eternal existence certainly wasn’t an advisable course but, in emergencies, could be done as a power stim. The backlash of negative emotions meant it had remained a method of last resort for millenia. I’d done it once myself, a long time ago, but I didn’t remember the melancholy being this severe.

Another sharp laugh. “And the times you caught me sneaking off to play chef with Loutro?”

“We all had our diversions during our apprenticeships.” The warmth of the maas had worked its way through my muscles, and I rolled my shoulders to loosen the tension. “I built the fountain in Maas Pirene, avoiding lessons from my predecessor.”

“Those weren’t ‘diversions,’ Charax.” Smiling, he threw his arm across his eyes and chuckled. “I would’ve been content to stay a minor god, feasting and reveling to my heart’s content.”

I arched a brow at him. “You? Avoid the limelight? Please.”

He lifted his arm and peeked at me through his elbow. “Point taken. Maybe we could make the God of Wine a major office.”

“I’ll bring it up with Seppo when this whole affair gets settled, assuming you still wish to abdicate when you’re sober.” Cracking my neck, I shook my arms and reopened the portal. “But it’ll take time to find a suitable replacement for you.”

“Why do we need to find a replacement? You’re back.”

I glanced over my shoulder at him. He still hadn’t gotten up. Oh, come on. “You know very well it doesn’t work like that. Yes, I’m back, but Malia and I currently co-Seat our office. And I haven’t even reestablished worship yet, so I’m not even close to properly sharing an office, let alone being able to resume my old role.”

Thane huffed a laugh and flopped his arms out on the sand. “Just...think about it, okay? I don’t know how you put up with all this death for so long.”

I blinked. That’s what he thought? That I’d managed to master the weight of death over the centuries? As if.

But appearances did have their uses.

“All right, I’ll consider it.” I stamped over and pulled him to his feet. “Let’s go get our Oracles back, before they worm their way out of Nanshe’s chest, or something else less pleasant.”


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
2435 Reviews


Points: 257320
Reviews: 2435

Donate
Sun Sep 19, 2021 8:14 am
HarryHardy 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...this was an interesting one....the main fight and escape itself barely seemed to do much, but that conversation after was definitely the sort of thing that catches your attention...not to mention that the running off with Nanshe maneuver is a bit of a surprise one too.

Anyway let's get right to it,

Lazuli didn’t take too kindly to the rejection. Her brow furrowed as her eyes bored into mine.

“How...flippant you are.” She took a step forward, then glanced down in disgust at the water sloshing underfoot. “Disgraceful, like your constant allusions to a wife who can only pale in comparison to the great Sea Mother.”

“Well, now, there you might be wrong.” I adjusted my grip on my staff and stepped sideways, edging towards where Thane kneeled. Although his head was bowed, his hair obscuring his eyes, I knew he wasn’t just sitting idle. Any moment now he’d have gathered enough energy to open his own portal, and then we’d be out of here.


Well...it looks like Lazuli is very convinced that Sea Mother is a very good person...and those comments are bordering on slightly hostile...I get the feeling that something is going to break out there, if Charax says anything more that might sounds a bit too against the Sea Mother.

Nanshe thrashed in the water, foaming at the mouth.

I frowned. Or maybe not. We couldn’t just leave her like that, to suffer whatever recreational torture a millenia-enslaved elder goddess had dreamed up during her internment. Or Lazuli, for that matter.

The harpy followed my gaze. “Surely...surely not her?”


Hmm, well we're all glad Malia wasn't around to see that particular blunder from Lazuli....or is she somehow seeing all of this unfold...that might lead to some very interesting conversations down the line...although this does seem to be relatively unlikely.

“Beg your pardon?”

“I mean, cross-pantheon pollination isn’t unheard of.” Lazuli grimaced. “But I would never have thought—”

“Oh, no. No love lost there.” I kept my feet beneath the surface of the water to keep from splashing and drawing attention to my movement. “Nanshe might be unpleasant, but she’s got nothing on my wife.”


Ahh, those are the right words to use there Charax...you survive to live another day.

“What a possessive phrase, ‘your wife.’” Lazuli scowled as she stumbled through the water. Her wings flared, casting a spray of excess energy into the air. “Does she have a name?”

“Names carry weight and power,” I said, continuing to back away. “And if you don’t already know who she is, well, I’d rather not give you a head start on learning her history and what she’s capable of.”


Hmm, that's a smart move to make although I have a feeling that Lazuli isn't going to like this statement either...and this subtle tension brewing in this dialogue is now only going to continue to escalate somewhat until...the escape mentioned in the chapter title is going to be come a necessity.

“So you expect to side against us.” She gained on me, but she hadn’t all-out attacked me yet, so that was something. But I didn’t think my spear would be able to do much damage. For all I knew, her quick regeneration might just heal with the spear still inside her, and then I’d really be in a spot.

“I’m not particularly keen on fighting anyone right now.”


Well...Lazuli is definitely picking up on everything very nicely and I get the feeling that Charax's line there isn't going to make things any better. Its very clear from his choice of words that he does intend to fight against the Sea Mother...only that he's not ready for doing so at that very moment.

Thane needed to hurry up because I really didn’t like the atmosphere. The air was heavy and growing thick with Tamiyat’s influence, weighing down on me like an ocean of sand. Undercurrents of power crackled through the humidity, lacing the air with the stench of spent lightning. Worst of all was the smell spilling off Lazuli, singed hair, burnt flesh, the decay of a day-old corpse. She probably couldn’t smell herself, but she should have at least sensed the havoc that excess power was wreaking on her body.


Welll...that's definitely someone that needs to get her hands on some perfume...that aside, this makes for some lovely description and a lovely reminder of the stakes that are currently bearing down on all of them.

She snapped her beak, misreading my expression. “The only one worthy of pity is you, old coward. We’re not afraid of the established pantheons. The Sea Mother has prepared for you. If you will not bow, you will be crushed.”

“Consider this an invitation to come visit, when you’re settled into your new territory.” Not liking the slant of her footing, I shifted my grip and prepared for her to charge. “Thane.”


OKay...not entirely sure who said that second bit of dialogue, it comes off as a teensy bit unclear...but well, the threat by Lazuli there is certainly not at all subtle, by now it looks like she's leaning rather heavily towards the whole crashing part.

“Kinda busy.” His voice was soft and raspy, like he’d been trying to out-scream a snowstorm for several hours.

“I think you dropped something.” My eyes never left Lazuli’s. She had absolutely no warface, her next movements plainly signaled. A drop of her shoulders, a twist of her hips. If she were going to pounce, it was going to be soon. “Want me to pick it up for you.”

“Sure,” he gasped.


Well....I believe the tension has properly reached its peak and so...they're not going to get to use that portal until after potentially another few blows being exchanged...let's see, this puts things into an interesting spot because there is no way either of them are risking any kind of fighting with the Sea Mother so they might fight for a bit with Lazuli but they should be getting out very soon.

A thunderclap as Lazuli lunged forward. The water cratered behind her, geysers whipping the air as she shot forward. I barely managed to angle my spear in time, and even then the impact rattled my bones and nearly snapped my wrists. The shaft slammed into my chest, knocking the wind out of me, and Lazuli bounced to the side. Her landing was far from graceful, and the water did nothing to soften the blow. I was fairly sure she’d snapped her wing, with how it twisted out of the water.


Ooooh, well the attack came right away there....definitely works really well with what was building in the previous couple of paragraphs...and you could see how Charax being ready for the attack pays off quite nicely here.

“Time to go!” I vanished my spear and sprinted as best I could through the water. To my right, Thane slowly rose to his feet, thick mist spilling off him as he toyed with the strings of his portal, nearly freezing the water beneath him in the process. How many souls—didn’t matter, we needed to get out of here. I stumbled to a halt next to Nanshe and scooped her out of the water. Her severed tentacles had stopped oozing ichor but were uncomfortably slimy and seeped through my drenched robes, as if supplanting the water.


Hmm...so he cares enough to take her to relative safety, that is an interesting, although I get the feeling they might end up dropping her...just a random hunch.

When I turned towards Thane’s minty green portal, Lazuli was venting twin helixes of fuschia-colored energy far into the sky. I didn’t know what that meant, and I didn’t care to find out. Half hobbling, half jogging, I carried Nanshe a dozen or so yards to Thane and dashed through the portal. A moment later, Thane slipped in behind me and sealed the rent.


Well...that didn't go as I thought it would, they do manage to take Nanshe with them...well I can imagine the Sea Mother will not be happy with any of those involved, but they're all probably now going to be safe for some time here.

Familiar power pulsed through my veins, refreshing and reviving me. It was hard to explain, that dull throbbing beneath the surface of consciousness, and how utterly hostile the magic of the Paeden lands had been. Yet the contrast was only clear once we returned to the pure, Carthian magic.


Well....I suppose he can finally catch a bit of a breather now...and probably heal anything that was left over from the fight...some of those attacks had to have left at least a couple of marks somewhere.

Nanshe didn’t like it, however, and started jerking in my arms, still unconscious. Or maybe it was the heat. Either way, she was reacting to something, and I only knew of one quickly accessible water source.

“Get up. I’m taking Nanshe to my place.”


Hm...I love how he's thinking both of the magical and the physical reasons there...not a lot of people in situations like that manage to remember that regular physical things can also have effects.

Still mumbling unintelligibly, he pushed sand around as he waved his hand at me.

I sighed, one foot already through the portal. “You need to speak up, and be quick. It’s hard enough trying to keep ahold of her when she’s not spasming like this.”

Thane flopped onto his side. “You do it.”

“What? Why?”

“I’m tired.”


Okay...well this is starting to get rather suspicious...I can understand being somewhat tired...but I highly doubt that a god of all people just randomly decides they want to sit in a comfortable place face first in sand if they aren't dealing with more than just being tired.

“All right, you’re obviously depressed because of all the souls you extinguished—”

“This isn’t about that,” he said, propping his head up on his arm. “I suck at being the God of Death. Those Oracles would’ve never been harvested by Nanshe if you’d still been in office.”

Frowning, I set the unconscious queen on the flagstones of the maas and sealed the portal. She didn’t look like she’d be waking up anytime soon, and even if she did, she couldn’t escape from the maas, even in her best shape. Arms folded, I stared down at Thane. “What’s this all about?”


Ohhh...well is that insecurity coming up right now...okay, well I suppose its going to be a new dimension but...hmm, I haven't seen this coming up before in the story at any point..so there's definitely something more than just that going on here.

“What do you mean, ‘What’s this all about?’” He laughed and collapsed back onto the sand on his back. His robes rose and fell with his breathing. “You’ve always been the better God of Death. I only assumed the role because you’d trained me for so long, and you were so eager to get to your retirement.”

“I had centuries of experience on you before you took office, of course I performed my duties better than you.” He must have absorbed a ton of souls to be feeling this level of aftereffect. Stripping souls of their eternal existence certainly wasn’t an advisable course but, in emergencies, could be done as a power stim. The backlash of negative emotions meant it had remained a method of last resort for millenia. I’d done it once myself, a long time ago, but I didn’t remember the melancholy being this severe.


Hmm...well that provides a much better explanation here, that would actually make sense...some kind of negative emotional backlash igniting previously hidden potential insecurities...well hopefully this doesn't affect the poor guy for too too long.

“Those weren’t ‘diversions,’ Charax.” Smiling, he threw his arm across his eyes and chuckled. “I would’ve been content to stay a minor god, feasting and reveling to my heart’s content.”

I arched a brow at him. “You? Avoid the limelight? Please.”

He lifted his arm and peeked at me through his elbow. “Point taken. Maybe we could make the God of Wine a major office.”


Well this conversation took an interesting humorous turn there...I'm guessing this is Charax just trying to make things a bit easier for Thane to get over whatever negative backlash he has.

I glanced over my shoulder at him. He still hadn’t gotten up. Oh, come on. “You know very well it doesn’t work like that. Yes, I’m back, but Malia and I currently co-Seat our office. And I haven’t even reestablished worship yet, so I’m not even close to properly sharing an office, let alone being able to resume my old role.”

Thane huffed a laugh and flopped his arms out on the sand. “Just...think about it, okay? I don’t know how you put up with all this death for so long.”


Well things turn back to being a lot more focused on emotions...this one's an interesting roller coaster there, I almost can't tell what exactly its trying to be, one on hand, it feels like there's too much of a humorous element, but on the other hand, not really..well anyway, a bit conflicted on this one here.

I blinked. That’s what he thought? That I’d managed to master the weight of death over the centuries? As if.

But appearances did have their uses.

“All right, I’ll consider it.” I stamped over and pulled him to his feet. “Let’s go get our Oracles back, before they worm their way out of Nanshe’s chest, or something else less pleasant.”


Well...this should be fun...also love the hint there of how Charax truly feels, it almost doesn't seem like you want much attention drawn to it, but it definitely stands out there as something that might have had a role to play in Charax's initial retirement.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, this one feels like a bit of a long transition between this previous fight with Nanshe finally ending and them getting a glimpse of the Sea Mother and whatever is set to come in the next chapter. Looking forward to seeing how that's going to happen :D

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

Stay Safe
Harry




User avatar
399 Reviews


Points: 42450
Reviews: 399

Donate
Sat Sep 18, 2021 7:18 pm
View Likes
Plume wrote a review...



Hey there, and happy RevMo! Plume here, with a review!

I really enjoyed this chapter! I think the characterization for Thane and the continued conversation between Lazuli and Charax made a great combo for this chapter; it created this nice medley of both action/snappy dialogue and a bit of a heartfelt moment, all while moving the plot along. I'm curious whether we'll ever get to meet the Sea Mother; I both want to but also don't want to, given what it would probably mean for Charax and whoever is with him at the time. Regardless, I'm curious to see where you take the story next!!

One thing I loved was Charax and Thane's little heart-to-heart (if you could call it that). It was really interesting to see you go a bit deeper into Thane's character; I think you displayed him in a really relatable light. I loved the visual of him just faceplanting in the sand, and him expressing his insecurities about how he couldn't compare to Charax was a nice addition of depth in his character that I thought was nicely executed and that I really enjoyed. It was certainly a stark contrast to the aloof character we were first introduced to! I love how you portray relationship dynamics in general; I think the way they change within your story is so natural and realistic. It just gives your story a bit more depth and delight, in my opinion.

I also loved all of Charax's "my wife" moments. Like, I feel like at this point, he's just the embodiment of that one John Mulaney bit "my wife is a b**ch and I like her so much." Again, I just love those character dynamics. Top notch.

Specifics

Worst of all was the smell spilling off Lazuli, singed hair, burnt flesh, the decay of a day-old corpse.


I think this sentence might flow a bit better if you put a colon after "Lazuli" rather than a comma. I feel like the way it is right now doesn't effectively separate the first part of the sentence from the list following it.

“Want me to pick it up for you.”


I think there should be a question mark here, rather than a period.

“Point taken. Maybe we could make the God of Wine a major office.”


Is this a subtle jab at Dionysus?

Overall: nice work!! I'm curious to see what'll happen next, especially now that they have Nanshe in tow... hopefully there's some Malia in the upcoming chapters! Until next time!!





"It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small."
— Neil Armstrong