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The Many Gifts of Malia--Part 50: "The Claim"

by dragonfphoenix


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

Lazuli let out another fierce cry that trailed into a warble and swooped towards me. As she stretched her taloned feet, trying to pluck me, I parried with my sword and ducked beneath her. Shrieking, she fluttered about and tumbled to the ground.

“Hello, puppet.” I grinned and brandished my sword. “Nice string you got there.”

And she did. Now that I’d been to the astral plane, I saw the dark, wispy tether that trailed from her back all the way into the clouds, following her like a hooked fish. Eyes fierce, she screeched at me and flared her wings.

“Where is she?”

Well, that certainly wasn’t the reaction I was expecting. I arched a brow at her. “Beg pardon?”

Lazuli flexed her hands, cracking the fresh scabs on her fingers, and stalked across the plaza. “You took my kill. Where?”

Oh, right. That whole mess.

Keeping my sword at guard, I circled to the left, angling for the temple. “It turns out she had something of mine. I just needed a bit of peace and quiet to retrieve it.”

“Then why isn’t she here now?” Lazuli’s nostrils flared. “She’s mine!”

“I can fetch her for you, if you’d like.”

The harpy paused and tilted her head. “Really?”

“Sure, sure.” I made calming motions, my empty palm out. “Just drop that leash of yours so I can take you to her.”

Her eyes slitted. “You said you’d bring her to me.”

“It’d be easier to bring you to her.” I sidestepped through puddles, careful not to take my eyes off Lazuli’s. A flicker of warmth like a lit match blossomed in my chest.

Claws extended from Lazuli’s fingers as she snorted. “Another one of your jests?”

“Not this time, no.” Now I was squishing wet derketo corpses underfoot. The temple to my back, I’d reached the ring where they’d held Thane. Not a short distance to sprint, if I wanted to reach the temple doorway, but I might make it in time. Not that I’d need to, though.

“Then bring her to me.” Lazuli clicked her beak and increased her pace.

I stumbled backwards, matching her pace. “That link of yours is going to be in the way whether I bring her back or take you to her.”

She laughed a warbling cry. “It wasn’t a hindrance before, nor is it now. My prey. Give.”

“No.”

The wind around me screamed as Lazuli shot forward. Malia nearly scalped me, flying past so close. The pair collided with such force that the air sounded like it shattered a dozen times over. It happened so fast, I only knew the other blur was Malia because she towered over Lazuli’s petrified body, the harpy turned to stone beneath my gorgon’s livid gaze.

Malia snapped her wings once, twice, and then slithered off the stone figure. “Mine.” She spat on Lazuli for good measure before veiling her eyes and turning to me. Eyes sparkling, she smiled. “Well, wasn’t that an experience?”

I nodded. “Glad you got my message.”

“What, that the elder being who’d sublimated the astral plane to her will could also read our minds and I needed to fall back?”

“More or less,” I said. Frowning, I jerked my head at the frozen goddess. “And that she’s stuck there, so she needs proxies like her to do the heavier lifting.”

She gave me a self-satisfied smile. “Oh, good, so I was right about that, too.”

“Of course you were.” I gave her a look. “I couldn’t help but notice you’d put on a few astral pounds since I last saw your form.”

“Phrasing.” She swatted my arm as she snuggled up next to me. “I’d been meaning to tell you, but it hadn’t come up yet.”

“Mmhmm.” I kissed the top of her head. “And you just so happened to start bulking right before an elder goddess decided to unleash herself upon the land?”

Her snakes hissed in mock annoyance. “In order to throw my weight around against such fierce opposition, I need to have the weight in the first place.”

“Does Seppo know?”

“Of course, dear.” She sighed and hugged my arm closer. “He’s known from the start. He’ll be along momentarily, when I give the signal.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Signal for what?”

“You’ll see.” She grinned up at me through her snake hair and started glowing.

Astral energy flowed like oil, making her scales glossy. Although the otherworldly power enveloped her, she didn’t transition to her incorporeal form, instead staying quite solid against my side. Her wings spread around us, slightly possessive, as she glared up at the colossal eyes that had reappeared in the sky.

Storm clouds masked the orbs like a mourner’s veil, but they did nothing to hide the sheer animosity churning in their depths. YOUR WORLD WILL FALL. The Sea Mother’s voice pounded in our ears and rattled our jaws. YOU WILL COWER IN FEAR.

“This land is under the protection of the Carthian deities.” Malia squeezed my arm as she answered the primordial immortal. “Its spirits and gods are ours, and you will not have them.”

I HAVE ALREADY RECLAIMED THE SPIRITS THAT WILL BE USEFUL TO ME. Lightning flashed around the eyes, casting strange light that seemed to flatten the lenses. SHE, HOWEVER, IS NOT. YOU MAY DO WITH HER AS YOU WISH. I HAVE NO NEED OF FAILURES.

“That explains why the earth felt empty,” Malia muttered under her breath.

“Do you think Lazuli released the spirits as well?” I whispered.

“Doesn’t matter.” Malia shook her head. Straightening, she met the Sea Mother with her most withering glare. “We are the Carthians. Your age has passed. Aenea is ours.”

Seppo materialized next to her, his steel sledgehammer gripped in both hands. “You are hereby barred from our lands, and should we find you trespassing, we will scour you from the earth and bind you back in the depths you’ve crawled from.”

To my right, Thane and Azoria appeared as well, standing a little too close together. My eyebrows rose. Was that her hand on his shoulder?Thane, positioned between me and Azoria, gave me a guilty look before screwing up his face something fierce and glowering at the Sea Mother. “Our dead are our own, and you will not take them.”

Azoria had ditched her white priestess garb and face paint, opting for her divine robes. When Thane finished, however, she didn’t say anything pithy, but merely nodded her assent.

I shrugged. Might as well throw my own pittance in with the other showboaters. As I opened my mouth to speak, Malia put a finger to my lips.

“I’ve got this.” She kissed my chin. Flaring her wings, she stepped forward and blurred, toeing the line between physical and astral. Her lines shimmered as if distorted by heat, her skin pulsing in time with her swaying snakes. A sly smile crept across her face as she stared at the Sea Mother. “I will personally weed out whatever snakes you’ve sent among us. You will be cut off from the land, and when I’m finished, you will never be remembered again. Try resurrecting from that.”

A wind like a huff buffeted us. CHILDREN. But then the air sagged back to sea, the storm clouds thinned, and the eyes vanished. The cries of gulls greeted the first rays of sunshine, and muffled cheers from peeping plebeians rumbled through the city behind us. The Sea Mother was gone.

“That’s it?” Malia dropped her hands and shook her head, annoyed. “No comeback?”

“I’m sure she’ll be down to verbally spar when she considers us a real threat,” I said, taking her arm and tugging her into the impromptu huddle we were forming. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Thane and Azoria quickly release each other’s hands as they stepped into the circle. While I couldn’t keep the grin off my face, I did manage to avoid making direct eye contact with either of them. “What worries me is how fast Tamiyat abandoned her attempt to reclaim Aenea. I don’t buy that she already has all the spirits she wanted, since she was still doing her best to take the city from us.”

Malia folded her arms and flicked her tail at the petrified goddess. “We dealt with her proxy.”

“True, but I don’t think that explains everything.” I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off. Tamiyat’s erratic behavior didn’t make sense, even factoring in elder eccentricities. There was a connection to be drawn, but my mind hadn’t made it yet.

“Let me know when you’ve worked it out.” Malia pursed her lips and glanced at Seppo. “You’ve been around longer than we have. What do you know about the Sea Mother?”

The pistons by his neck hissed as he shook his head. “Precious little, I’m afraid. She was my mother’s bedfellow in her younger years, but they had a falling out before I was born. I’ll have the Oracles consult the archives when we return.”

“Speaking of Oracles,” Thane interjected. “I’m afraid we have some bad news about our former Aenean diviners.”

“So you’ve confirmed their deaths?” Seppo said, sighing.

Thane nodded. “I’m afraid so. We were able to recover their souls from the Paedan goddess before she...ah, escaped.”

Seppo grunted. “I’ll let Charax explain himself later. But I’m sure you couldn’t have recovered the souls without his help, and he always has his reasons.”

Thane blushed but said nothing.

“Seppo, if I may—” Azoria began, but Seppo held up a hand.

“No. You’re biased in his favor, and he is blind to his mentor's faults.” Seppo gave me a bemused smile. “But I trust my gods of war. Now, get out of here and go back to whatever bedroom activities you were up to before.”

Azoria went bright scarlet, and I thought Thane wanted to conjure a hole in the plaza to swallow him up. Clamping her mouth shut, Azoria turned and drew an oval of brilliant aquamarine in the air. A moment later, her portal flared open and she let Thane through. Still blushing furiously, she stopped on the threshold and said, “I’ll, uh, be back later to administer—”

Seppo cut her off and shooed her away.

The portal snapped shut, leaving the three of us alone on the plaza.

Seppo’s exoskeleton hissed as he sagged. “I wasn’t too harsh on them, was I?”

Malia and I shared a look and laughed. Oh boy, this next feast was going to be a blast.


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HarryHardy wrote a review...



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

Hi! I'm here to leave a quick review!!

First Impression: First of all, 50 CHAPTERS IS INSANE!! CONGRATS!!. Anyway...moving on, this was a pretty neat one, it felt like its meant to signal the end of one arc and the start of another here...sort of a first salvo between the two sides and I think we can safely assume this is a bit of a stalemate here despite Tamiyat technically running away.

Anyway let's get right to it,

Lazuli let out another fierce cry that trailed into a warble and swooped towards me. As she stretched her taloned feet, trying to pluck me, I parried with my sword and ducked beneath her. Shrieking, she fluttered about and tumbled to the ground.

“Hello, puppet.” I grinned and brandished my sword. “Nice string you got there.”

And she did. Now that I’d been to the astral plane, I saw the dark, wispy tether that trailed from her back all the way into the clouds, following her like a hooked fish. Eyes fierce, she screeched at me and flared her wings.


Well, that makes for a very interesting start. Those that bind themselves to help out the Sea Mother are literal puppets on a string it appears, well that certainly makes things a bit more in perspective to just how controlling that one truly can be. I suppose the rapid infusions of energy also operate via this string situation here.

“Where is she?”

Well, that certainly wasn’t the reaction I was expecting. I arched a brow at her. “Beg pardon?”

Lazuli flexed her hands, cracking the fresh scabs on her fingers, and stalked across the plaza. “You took my kill. Where?”

Oh, right. That whole mess.

Keeping my sword at guard, I circled to the left, angling for the temple. “It turns out she had something of mine. I just needed a bit of peace and quiet to retrieve it.”


Hmm....that conversation was a lot more civil than I was expecting it to be, at least at this starting point here. I suppose its probably not going to end quite this nicely, but at the very least the two aren't just fighting it out for the sake for the sake of it. Although she does have a habit of dive bombing whoever it is she's trying to talk to before she starts doing the talking.

“Then why isn’t she here now?” Lazuli’s nostrils flared. “She’s mine!”

“I can fetch her for you, if you’d like.”

The harpy paused and tilted her head. “Really?”

“Sure, sure.” I made calming motions, my empty palm out. “Just drop that leash of yours so I can take you to her.”

Her eyes slitted. “You said you’d bring her to me.”


Hmm...couldn't slip away with that one, could you Charax, she was actually paying careful attention there, although it was something that he said like a second ago, so it would've been more surprising if she forgot that.

“It’d be easier to bring you to her.” I sidestepped through puddles, careful not to take my eyes off Lazuli’s. A flicker of warmth like a lit match blossomed in my chest.

Claws extended from Lazuli’s fingers as she snorted. “Another one of your jests?”

“Not this time, no.” Now I was squishing wet derketo corpses underfoot. The temple to my back, I’d reached the ring where they’d held Thane. Not a short distance to sprint, if I wanted to reach the temple doorway, but I might make it in time. Not that I’d need to, though.

“Then bring her to me.” Lazuli clicked her beak and increased her pace.


Well....I can feel that you're building up tension here for something. This is sort of treading a very fine line between a normal conversation and a battle, you can just sort of feel the urge to fight it out simmering just beneath the surface for both of these two here.

I stumbled backwards, matching her pace. “That link of yours is going to be in the way whether I bring her back or take you to her.”

She laughed a warbling cry. “It wasn’t a hindrance before, nor is it now. My prey. Give.”

“No.”

The wind around me screamed as Lazuli shot forward. Malia nearly scalped me, flying past so close. The pair collided with such force that the air sounded like it shattered a dozen times over. It happened so fast, I only knew the other blur was Malia because she towered over Lazuli’s petrified body, the harpy turned to stone beneath my gorgon’s livid gaze.


Hmm....well that was not quite the release of tension I was expecting, I thought there'd be a little bit more of a fight, but this is quite a fun little surprise to have this whole thing kind of end before it really gets a chance to start.

Malia snapped her wings once, twice, and then slithered off the stone figure. “Mine.” She spat on Lazuli for good measure before veiling her eyes and turning to me. Eyes sparkling, she smiled. “Well, wasn’t that an experience?”

I nodded. “Glad you got my message.”

“What, that the elder being who’d sublimated the astral plane to her will could also read our minds and I needed to fall back?”

“More or less,” I said. Frowning, I jerked my head at the frozen goddess. “And that she’s stuck there, so she needs proxies like her to do the heavier lifting.”


Hmm...well finally these two get to have a proper conversation after a while. Its sad that its going to have to basically be a debrief of all the nonsense that was happening moments ago, but at least its a conversation, that's better than nothing.

She gave me a self-satisfied smile. “Oh, good, so I was right about that, too.”

“Of course you were.” I gave her a look. “I couldn’t help but notice you’d put on a few astral pounds since I last saw your form.”

“Phrasing.” She swatted my arm as she snuggled up next to me. “I’d been meaning to tell you, but it hadn’t come up yet.”

“Mmhmm.” I kissed the top of her head. “And you just so happened to start bulking right before an elder goddess decided to unleash herself upon the land?”


Ahhh...I've missed these cute little moments between these two. These are always so much fun to read, and its nice to see something like this happen immediately after the two finally come together here.

Her snakes hissed in mock annoyance. “In order to throw my weight around against such fierce opposition, I need to have the weight in the first place.”

“Does Seppo know?”

“Of course, dear.” She sighed and hugged my arm closer. “He’s known from the start. He’ll be along momentarily, when I give the signal.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Signal for what?”

“You’ll see.” She grinned up at me through her snake hair and started glowing.


OOoh....are we getting a surprise reveal of some sort here...it looks to be that way at the moment, Charax clearly is seeing none of this coming, which is not very surprising, considering this looks to be a plan with at least a little bit of Malia's input if she wasn't the one who made it all herself. This is a nice little setup here.

Astral energy flowed like oil, making her scales glossy. Although the otherworldly power enveloped her, she didn’t transition to her incorporeal form, instead staying quite solid against my side. Her wings spread around us, slightly possessive, as she glared up at the colossal eyes that had reappeared in the sky.

Storm clouds masked the orbs like a mourner’s veil, but they did nothing to hide the sheer animosity churning in their depths. YOUR WORLD WILL FALL. The Sea Mother’s voice pounded in our ears and rattled our jaws. YOU WILL COWER IN FEAR.

“This land is under the protection of the Carthian deities.” Malia squeezed my arm as she answered the primordial immortal. “Its spirits and gods are ours, and you will not have them.”


Oooooooh...epic moment...check...I guess this is kind of like maybe the defining point of them sort of declaring a kind of war between the two sides, it feels that way. That's some neat little description there creating a rather powerful image before we have some very clear intentions being announced out for everyone to hear.

I HAVE ALREADY RECLAIMED THE SPIRITS THAT WILL BE USEFUL TO ME. Lightning flashed around the eyes, casting strange light that seemed to flatten the lenses. SHE, HOWEVER, IS NOT. YOU MAY DO WITH HER AS YOU WISH. I HAVE NO NEED OF FAILURES.

“That explains why the earth felt empty,” Malia muttered under her breath.

“Do you think Lazuli released the spirits as well?” I whispered.

“Doesn’t matter.” Malia shook her head. Straightening, she met the Sea Mother with her most withering glare. “We are the Carthians. Your age has passed. Aenea is ours.”


Right so this is starting to feel a lot like a bit of a stand off here...and we're probably building to an epic moment where Seppo's going to appear and as like the actual leader here, he's probably going to be able to make a proper statement against the Sea Mother speaking for all of the Carthian gods.

Seppo materialized next to her, his steel sledgehammer gripped in both hands. “You are hereby barred from our lands, and should we find you trespassing, we will scour you from the earth and bind you back in the depths you’ve crawled from.”

To my right, Thane and Azoria appeared as well, standing a little too close together. My eyebrows rose. Was that her hand on his shoulder?Thane, positioned between me and Azoria, gave me a guilty look before screwing up his face something fierce and glowering at the Sea Mother. “Our dead are our own, and you will not take them.”

Azoria had ditched her white priestess garb and face paint, opting for her divine robes. When Thane finished, however, she didn’t say anything pithy, but merely nodded her assent.


OOooh yes, this is starting to feel like one of those final team up scenes in a movie, although I'm gonna go ahead and safely assume that no fighting is going to follow this particular team up, this is just sort of a slight display of power and intent before anything actually ends up happening. I don't think Tamiyat is going to outright attack them on the spot here, I have a feeling that she maybe can't, not really anyway.

I shrugged. Might as well throw my own pittance in with the other showboaters. As I opened my mouth to speak, Malia put a finger to my lips.

“I’ve got this.” She kissed my chin. Flaring her wings, she stepped forward and blurred, toeing the line between physical and astral. Her lines shimmered as if distorted by heat, her skin pulsing in time with her swaying snakes. A sly smile crept across her face as she stared at the Sea Mother. “I will personally weed out whatever snakes you’ve sent among us. You will be cut off from the land, and when I’m finished, you will never be remembered again. Try resurrecting from that.”


Of course Malia has to be the one to deliver the flashiest of the threats. She couldn't possibly allow anyone but her to make a move like that one...although I have no idea how long it might be before she may have to eat those words.

A wind like a huff buffeted us. CHILDREN. But then the air sagged back to sea, the storm clouds thinned, and the eyes vanished. The cries of gulls greeted the first rays of sunshine, and muffled cheers from peeping plebeians rumbled through the city behind us. The Sea Mother was gone.

“That’s it?” Malia dropped her hands and shook her head, annoyed. “No comeback?”

“I’m sure she’ll be down to verbally spar when she considers us a real threat,” I said, taking her arm and tugging her into the impromptu huddle we were forming. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Thane and Azoria quickly release each other’s hands as they stepped into the circle. While I couldn’t keep the grin off my face, I did manage to avoid making direct eye contact with either of them. “What worries me is how fast Tamiyat abandoned her attempt to reclaim Aenea. I don’t buy that she already has all the spirits she wanted, since she was still doing her best to take the city from us.”


Hmmm...cute little side note of the other duo is a fun detail...but also this is a nice little observation there. There must've been something about this situation that was disadvantageous in some way to Tamiyat, or there is actually no reason for her to leave quite that easily.

Malia folded her arms and flicked her tail at the petrified goddess. “We dealt with her proxy.”

“True, but I don’t think that explains everything.” I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off. Tamiyat’s erratic behavior didn’t make sense, even factoring in elder eccentricities. There was a connection to be drawn, but my mind hadn’t made it yet.

“Let me know when you’ve worked it out.” Malia pursed her lips and glanced at Seppo. “You’ve been around longer than we have. What do you know about the Sea Mother?”


Hmm...ah yes of course, Charax is forbidden by the law of protagonists to not figure that one out for some time yet. BUt....well this question to Seppo should at least produce some intriguing information.

The pistons by his neck hissed as he shook his head. “Precious little, I’m afraid. She was my mother’s bedfellow in her younger years, but they had a falling out before I was born. I’ll have the Oracles consult the archives when we return.”

“Speaking of Oracles,” Thane interjected. “I’m afraid we have some bad news about our former Aenean diviners.”

“So you’ve confirmed their deaths?” Seppo said, sighing.

Thane nodded. “I’m afraid so. We were able to recover their souls from the Paedan goddess before she...ah, escaped.”


Hmm...well that was a fairly casual way to announce the deaths of...I'm gonna assume a fairly decent number of people...I do suppose even though it seems like a big loss, its more replaceable than it first appeared.

Seppo grunted. “I’ll let Charax explain himself later. But I’m sure you couldn’t have recovered the souls without his help, and he always has his reasons.”

Thane blushed but said nothing.

“Seppo, if I may—” Azoria began, but Seppo held up a hand.

“No. You’re biased in his favor, and he is blind to his mentor's faults.” Seppo gave me a bemused smile. “But I trust my gods of war. Now, get out of here and go back to whatever bedroom activities you were up to before.”


Well glad to see Seppo hasn't changed one bit from when we last met him. I do think he comes off as a pretty good leader here...and he manages to pull of a pretty good tease there towards the end for someone who's a bit uncomfortable with that sort of thing.

Azoria went bright scarlet, and I thought Thane wanted to conjure a hole in the plaza to swallow him up. Clamping her mouth shut, Azoria turned and drew an oval of brilliant aquamarine in the air. A moment later, her portal flared open and she let Thane through. Still blushing furiously, she stopped on the threshold and said, “I’ll, uh, be back later to administer—”

Seppo cut her off and shooed her away.

The portal snapped shut, leaving the three of us alone on the plaza.

Seppo’s exoskeleton hissed as he sagged. “I wasn’t too harsh on them, was I?”

Malia and I shared a look and laughed. Oh boy, this next feast was going to be a blast.


Ahh...Seppo's moment is also too adorable there...oh dear...I've missed these characters more than I thought for the time that we spent with Charax being all on his own...well, a neat ending her to this one. :D

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, a pretty solid chapter here. I really liked the way this seemed to tie a few things together and act as a sort of regrouping point for most of the main characters here, with the promise of stuff to come. Well...anyway that's it for this one :D

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

Stay Safe
Harry






Thanks! Yep, pretty much spot on for it, mentally this is my marker for "End of Trial One arc" and the next few chapters will be the prelude to Trial Two. It was really fun working in all the different characters for this scene, and these next few chapters should be quite the trip too lol.

More to come soon!



HarryHardy says...


You're Welcome!! Looking forward to it :D



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Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

Hey!! It's the big five-oh!! Congrats on making it so far; it's so hard to believe I've reviewed 50 of these. It feels like less than that, but also like so long ago that I was reading the first chapter. Regardless: congratulations, and I hope you know how proud I am that you've made it this far!! Commitment is one of my biggest issues while writing, and the fact that you've stuck with this so long is so inspiring and awesome. Anyways. Enough of me rambling. Onto the review!!

I really enjoyed reading this chapter; at the end, it was so fun to see (most of) the gang back together again! I like how an arc somewhat ended on chapter 50 too; it was very satisfying to have them momentarily defeat the Sea Mother. She'll definitely be back, but it gives a sort of momentary conclusion to this whole debacle. I'm curious to see what conflict will be brewing next, and if it'll have anything to do with Hasda's trials (man, it feels like forever ago when that was the main focus lol. Stories really do evolve!!)

One thing I really enjoyed in this chapter specifically was all that rich description. That line about how the astral energy flowed like oil was a really nice touch. I feel like whenever Malia was around in that chapter, you spared no expense at making sure her glory and power were fully justified through your gorgeous prose. It was an absolute joy to read, especially because of how not-cliche your descriptions are. I feel like I often fall prey to that, but your writing is just so memorable and unique. Nice work!!

Specifics

Was that her hand on his shoulder?Thane, positioned between me and Azoria, gave me a guilty look before screwing up his face something fierce and glowering at the Sea Mother.


Tiny thing: looks like you forgot a space in between the question mark and Thane. Also, so glad to see them back together. Besides Charax and Malia, I think that they're also one of the cuter couples of this story. (I've still got hope for Jade and Hasda too.)

Overall: nice work (as always). Really enjoyed this chapter, and I'm super excited to see what the next fifty will bring (or maybe not that many. But who knows?) Super curious to see what the next segment of the story will be about. Until next time!!






Thanks! Yeah, it doesn't feel like I've been at this too long, but also, I wrote the first chapter.........eight months ago. Heh.

The arc ending on 50 was more accidental than intentional, but it was extremely satisfying lol. Yes, Hasda's Trials will be returning, although the story has already started its "Oh, you thought you were getting to this scene quickly? Haha here's another three chapters of content to get there first" misbehavior so no promises on how *soon* we get there, but we're definitely heading that direction.

Thanks :) One thing that's always bugged me is lazy writing around super powerful characters. It's always just like "oh yeah, they destroy universes in their spare time so they can walk all over the MC" like no, show them at least doing the thing, and bonus points if them doing the thing matters more than just as a demonstration. Malia is also flamboyant enough I don't think she could ever not show off lol.

Thane and Azoria got SUPER CUTE I love them so much. Especially with how Thane acts like the party god and then gets super bashful about their relationship it's just, ugh, so perfect lol.

For consistency, it'd be nice if the next arc takes another fifty, but I can't say if it will because I'm not trying to pigeonhole the plot into a specific pattern. I do, however, expect it to take *at least* this many words to get anywhere near the neighborhood of the end. If the story is nice, maybe we'll get the big finish at 150 lol, but also knowing this story, it might throw in an extra couple dozen chapters or so just for good measure.

More soon!




We always talk about the "doers" and "dreamers" but I'd like to give a big shoutout to the "tryers".
— Hannah Hart