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The Many Gifts of Malia--Part 6: "The Blessing"

by dragonfphoenix


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

Malia had a smug smile on her face. Wrapping a wing in front of her, she picked at the feathers and tried to look coy. “The feast in your honor tonight?” She glanced up from her preening. “You did read the letter, didn’t you?”

Oh, baby, do I have news for you. I gave her my biggest, toothy grin. “Actually, I didn’t.”

Her fingers froze, a feather split by its barbs between her thumb and index finger. “You...didn’t? Then how did you know to come to Maas Pirene?”

I grunted. “Its proximity to my temple and your flair for symbolism.”

“I also have a flair for theatrics,” she pouted, sliding her fingers to repair the feather. Shaking her wings, she folded them behind her and slid towards me, lower lip protruding. “How’d you know I wouldn’t be at the main gates to wow our new young fellow?”

Damn it if she wasn’t a cute pouter, but that hadn’t worked on me for a good century or so. I chuckled and shifted my staff forward, so she couldn’t slither up and entangle me in her arms. We might’ve been apart for several centuries, but I’d lose my head if I let her get her lips on me. “Getting predictable in your old age?”

“You impertinent old skeleton!” Her eyes went wide and she covered her mouth in shock. “You’re one to talk. You were practically a bag of bones by the time I was born.”

“I was a century and a half older than you, and lest you start scaring the youngling,” I wagged a finger at her, “we were both well into our first millenniums before we met. So I don’t want to hear any of this age nonsense.”

“You never could take a joke.” She crossed her arms and looked hurt. Gods damn it, she was older than this. Still pouting, she gave me a sideways eye. “Are you sure you didn’t read my letter?”

I pulled out the sealed scroll and waved it. “Yep.”

She huffed. “Fine. Here, Thane.” Pinching the air, she pulled a celestial drachma from the ether. The thick gold coin glinted in the red sunlight, a prancing unicorn depicted on its face and a shrieking harpy on the reverse. Scowling, Malia flicked it to the death god, who fumbled the catch.

“A pleasure betting, as always,” he called over his shoulder as he chased the coin across the paving stones.

I raised a brow at her.

She crossed her arms in a huff, her snakes hissing. “Tomfool insisted you wouldn’t read the letter.” Sighing, she looked at me with genuine sadness. “Are you sure you won’t stay? I was looking forward to sharing a meal again.”

I shook my head and took a step back. “I’ve had enough of feasts in my honor and dealing with divine politics. It’s time I went home.”

“Your home was here,” she whispered, so soft I almost didn’t catch it. Then her eyes lit up, and she gave me an angry smile. “It wasn’t going to be all about you, you old idiot.” She frowned. “While your return would’ve complimented the main event nicely, the feast is primarily to welcome Hasda as my new champion.”

I blinked. “Your new what?”

“You heard me.” She smiled, and I didn’t like that look in her eyes.

“I thought you just wanted another lieutenant. Maybe a general, if he did well.”

She laughed, her hands holding her sides. Smile wide, she wiped at a non-existent tear. “A child raised by you, simply a ‘lieutenant?’ Oh, Charax, how I’ve missed your humor.”

Oh yes, it was quite simple, wasn’t it? Once mighty death god, once god of war, living a life of peace and raising a child to be kind and gentle to all. How could I ever mistake your intentions with him? But I didn’t say any of that. I just grumbled something under my breath and looked cranky and all the other things she expected me to be. Even if she’d lost a smaller battle, she still held the advantage in the war.

Thane finally caught his coin and, pocketing it, returned with a broad smile on his face. He faltered when he saw our expressions, but the fake grin came back almost instantly. Putting an arm over Hasda’s shoulders, he dragged the lad right next to us. “Say, aren’t you two leaving out the man of the hour?”

Malia gave Hasda an apologetic smile, and the boy ate it up. “Forgive us, Hasda.” She put a hand on my chest before I could move away. “It’s just been so many years since your father and I last met, we’ve had so much catching up to do.”

“Not much to speak of, save how I explicitly avoided teaching Hasda the arts of warfare, something you set out to do the moment he could walk,” I said, sounding sulky even to myself.

“Father, please,” he said. The way he held himself, the tone of his voice, I knew he was trying to be mature, but it just made me sad to see him so suddenly grown up, out from under me.

“Don’t mind him,” Malia said, patting my robes. “He’s always been an old crab, and we love him for it.”

“I’m happy for you, Hasda,” I said, managing to keep the bitterness out of my voice. “It’s just hard to see you go. Something I hadn’t thought I’d be saying since I began my retirement.”

“You could stay.” Again with that stupid ray of hope in his eyes.

I shook my head. “My time has long since passed, boy. Plus, it will do you good to stretch your wings,” I glanced at Malia, “metaphorically speaking, without my holding you back.”

“But you wouldn’t.” His face was insistent. “If you won’t train me, you could always advise me. I would value your judgment.”

I narrowed my eyes at Malia. The gorgon wouldn’t meet my gaze, keeping her eyes on Hasda, but she was fighting with a smile that kept trying to escape. Troublesome woman. I battled with my own pangs of emotion, the heart strings she’d orchestrated those words to pluck. Damn it all if I wasn’t going to be roped into this by the end of it.

Hasda looked at me, expectant.

I sighed. “Insufferable woman. I’m sorry, Hasda, but no. But I will give you this, before I go.”

Beside me, Malia’s brows furrowed, and her free hand drifted to my arm. “What are you…?”

Hasda braced himself, putting on a strong face. Good lad.

I rested my staff in the crook of my arm, annoyed at the uneven way it lay against Malia’s fingers, but it couldn’t be helped now. Raising my hand, I traced his brow and then his nose with the tip of my bony finger. “May you succeed upon each path you tread, your days many and your sorrows few. May love and laughter light your way, wherever you may roam. May this, my blessing, give you strength, and remember always that no matter the plow to which you lay your hand, you will always be my son. Go in peace, my anointed one.”

Malia’s fingers tightened on my arm and, behind Hasda, Thane’s jaw dropped. Not understanding what had just happened, Hasda smiled grimly and nodded his head. “Thank you, father.”

I tugged my arm free and grunted.

“Charax, I…” For once, I’d left Malia speechless. She shook her head and tried again. “I didn’t mean for you to…”

“What’s done is done.” I waved my hand, and the orange portal sputtered to life. “Enjoy your new champion. Goodbye, Hasda.”

And with that, I left through the portal. I didn’t look back, because I didn’t want to see the look on Hasda’s face as I left. He was grown, and maybe he could take it, but I didn’t know if I could. Back in the safety of the forest, the portal hissed shut behind me, and I shuffled off towards my temple. My hem snagged on a fallen branch, and I cursed. I knew I’d forgotten something.

Oh well. I could always find a tailor in the village.


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Mon May 24, 2021 6:11 am
KateHardy wrote a review...



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

Hi! I'm Harry again....woohooo....diving right in this time without talking too much....

First Impression: Well...Charax winning one bout of them mind games in this chapter...although I have sneaking suspicion the mind games are far from done in this story...xD

Anyway let's get right to it,

Malia had a smug smile on her face. Wrapping a wing in front of her, she picked at the feathers and tried to look coy. “The feast in your honor tonight?” She glanced up from her preening. “You did read the letter, didn’t you?”

Oh, baby, do I have news for you. I gave her my biggest, toothy grin. “Actually, I didn’t.”


Ooooh yes...point to Charax there....he wins the second mind game for now.

Her fingers froze, a feather split by its barbs between her thumb and index finger. “You...didn’t? Then how did you know to come to Maas Pirene?”

I grunted. “Its proximity to my temple and your flair for symbolism.”

“I also have a flair for theatrics,” she pouted, sliding her fingers to repair the feather. Shaking her wings, she folded them behind her and slid towards me, lower lip protruding. “How’d you know I wouldn’t be at the main gates to wow our new young fellow?”


Hmm...well that's a good question...he definitely had to pull of a ton of guesswork on that and take a couple of chances there.

Damn it if she wasn’t a cute pouter, but that hadn’t worked on me for a good century or so. I chuckled and shifted my staff forward, so she couldn’t slither up and entangle me in her arms. We might’ve been apart for several centuries, but I’d lose my head if I let her get her lips on me. “Getting predictable in your old age?”

“You impertinent old skeleton!” Her eyes went wide and she covered her mouth in shock. “You’re one to talk. You were practically a bag of bones by the time I was born.”


Oh...that exaggerated reaction there is amazing.

“I was a century and a half older than you, and lest you start scaring the youngling,” I wagged a finger at her, “we were both well into our first millenniums before we met. So I don’t want to hear any of this age nonsense.”

“You never could take a joke.” She crossed her arms and looked hurt. Gods damn it, she was older than this. Still pouting, she gave me a sideways eye. “Are you sure you didn’t read my letter?”


Well...she's definitely not acting here age at the moment, that much I can definitely agree with.

She huffed. “Fine. Here, Thane.” Pinching the air, she pulled a celestial drachma from the ether. The thick gold coin glinted in the red sunlight, a prancing unicorn depicted on its face and a shrieking harpy on the reverse. Scowling, Malia flicked it to the death god, who fumbled the catch.


Well...that's sounds like a really fun design for that coin there.

“A pleasure betting, as always,” he called over his shoulder as he chased the coin across the paving stones.

I raised a brow at her.

She crossed her arms in a huff, her snakes hissing. “Tomfool insisted you wouldn’t read the letter.” Sighing, she looked at me with genuine sadness. “Are you sure you won’t stay? I was looking forward to sharing a meal again.”


Hmm....well...genuine sadness huh...that is hard to judge...but ehh...him remaining firm on his decision to return to his home and his retirement certainly seems to fit the bill quite well.

I shook my head and took a step back. “I’ve had enough of feasts in my honor and dealing with divine politics. It’s time I went home.”

“Your home was here,” she whispered, so soft I almost didn’t catch it. Then her eyes lit up, and she gave me an angry smile. “It wasn’t going to be all about you, you old idiot.” She frowned. “While your return would’ve complimented the main event nicely, the feast is primarily to welcome Hasda as my new champion.”


Oooh....I have a feeling she's thinking this plan up on the spot here as she goes.

I blinked. “Your new what?”

“You heard me.” She smiled, and I didn’t like that look in her eyes.

“I thought you just wanted another lieutenant. Maybe a general, if he did well.”

She laughed, her hands holding her sides. Smile wide, she wiped at a non-existent tear. “A child raised by you, simply a ‘lieutenant?’ Oh, Charax, how I’ve missed your humor.”


Well...that's an interesting reaction that I wasn't quite imagining there.

Oh yes, it was quite simple, wasn’t it? Once mighty death god, once god of war, living a life of peace and raising a child to be kind and gentle to all. How could I ever mistake your intentions with him? But I didn’t say any of that. I just grumbled something under my breath and looked cranky and all the other things she expected me to be. Even if she’d lost a smaller battle, she still held the advantage in the war.


I think that does beautifully sum up this little mental war at the moment.

Thane finally caught his coin and, pocketing it, returned with a broad smile on his face. He faltered when he saw our expressions, but the fake grin came back almost instantly. Putting an arm over Hasda’s shoulders, he dragged the lad right next to us. “Say, aren’t you two leaving out the man of the hour?”

Malia gave Hasda an apologetic smile, and the boy ate it up. “Forgive us, Hasda.” She put a hand on my chest before I could move away. “It’s just been so many years since your father and I last met, we’ve had so much catching up to do.”


Well here begins that second attempt here to get this man to come along with them...well...lets see how successful this is. The more I see these two together, the more I wish he would somehow end up agreeing to stay.

“Not much to speak of, save how I explicitly avoided teaching Hasda the arts of warfare, something you set out to do the moment he could walk,” I said, sounding sulky even to myself.

“Father, please,” he said. The way he held himself, the tone of his voice, I knew he was trying to be mature, but it just made me sad to see him so suddenly grown up, out from under me.


Well that's a powerful little line there...right at the end.

“Don’t mind him,” Malia said, patting my robes. “He’s always been an old crab, and we love him for it.”

“I’m happy for you, Hasda,” I said, managing to keep the bitterness out of my voice. “It’s just hard to see you go. Something I hadn’t thought I’d be saying since I began my retirement.”


Well...that definitely must be hard for him...and you're doing a great job really bringing that across.

“You could stay.” Again with that stupid ray of hope in his eyes.

I shook my head. “My time has long since passed, boy. Plus, it will do you good to stretch your wings,” I glanced at Malia, “metaphorically speaking, without my holding you back.”

“But you wouldn’t.” His face was insistent. “If you won’t train me, you could always advise me. I would value your judgment.”


Oooh...is the boy the endgame here from Malia...he certainly seems to be putting in 200% effort here to keep this man here.

I narrowed my eyes at Malia. The gorgon wouldn’t meet my gaze, keeping her eyes on Hasda, but she was fighting with a smile that kept trying to escape. Troublesome woman. I battled with my own pangs of emotion, the heart strings she’d orchestrated those words to pluck. Damn it all if I wasn’t going to be roped into this by the end of it.


Oh dear....well...that was a correct guess it appears...although I don't think this is going quite according to her plan here.

Hasda looked at me, expectant.

I sighed. “Insufferable woman. I’m sorry, Hasda, but no. But I will give you this, before I go.”

Beside me, Malia’s brows furrowed, and her free hand drifted to my arm. “What are you…?”

Hasda braced himself, putting on a strong face. Good lad.


Oh well...he's preparing to make his exit I see...with one last blessing I guess.

I rested my staff in the crook of my arm, annoyed at the uneven way it lay against Malia’s fingers, but it couldn’t be helped now. Raising my hand, I traced his brow and then his nose with the tip of my bony finger. “May you succeed upon each path you tread, your days many and your sorrows few. May love and laughter light your way, wherever you may roam. May this, my blessing, give you strength, and remember always that no matter the plow to which you lay your hand, you will always be my son. Go in peace, my anointed one.”


Well, well...looks like he made a bit of a wild card move there...judging by the reactions of everyone around him at least.

Malia’s fingers tightened on my arm and, behind Hasda, Thane’s jaw dropped. Not understanding what had just happened, Hasda smiled grimly and nodded his head. “Thank you, father.”

I tugged my arm free and grunted.

“Charax, I…” For once, I’d left Malia speechless. She shook her head and tried again. “I didn’t mean for you to…”


Yup...there we go...Charax has officially defeated all of Malia's plans that day...point to him again...

“What’s done is done.” I waved my hand, and the orange portal sputtered to life. “Enjoy your new champion. Goodbye, Hasda.”

And with that, I left through the portal. I didn’t look back, because I didn’t want to see the look on Hasda’s face as I left. He was grown, and maybe he could take it, but I didn’t know if I could. Back in the safety of the forest, the portal hissed shut behind me, and I shuffled off towards my temple. My hem snagged on a fallen branch, and I cursed. I knew I’d forgotten something.

Oh well. I could always find a tailor in the village.


Well...sad to see that all of Malia's efforts failed there...but I suppose...technically Charax winning is supposed to be the good thing here xD...so that's not a terrible outcome either...he definitely is quite a wily ol' customer despite his age.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Hmm...as much as this looks like a victory for Charax and his retirement plan...I just have a feeling...oh well...that's just a theory...xD...maybe its just that I really want to Charax to be out of retirement and join Malia and Hasda cause that would be an awesome trio.

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

Stay Safe
Harry




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Sat Feb 27, 2021 4:23 pm
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Spearmint wrote a review...



Hi, it’s Spearmint again! Anyways, jumping right into the review...

I was a century and a half older than you, and lest you start scaring the youngling,” I wagged a finger at her, “we were both well into our first millenniums before we met.

Haha Charax showing his age here, huh? I like how this part really gives the reader a sense of perspective about Charax and Malia; to them, these events with Hasda are just a fleeting moment within their lifetimes. And yet Charax, despite his millenniums of experience, really seems to care about Hasda... it makes me wonder how the old god will feel when Hasda eventually dies (although it’s not entirely clear whether Charax will last that long either, I guess o.0).

The bet between Malia and Thane also illustrates Malia’s confidence (perhaps overconfidence?) in her ability to manipulate Charax into doing what she wants. Really great moment of character-building there!

Then her eyes lit up, and she gave me an angry smile.

This line felt a little off to me because I usually associate eyes lighting up as a sign of happiness, rather than anger. Although it might also be the “angry smile” part; I can’t quite visualize someone smiling and being angry at the same time... Maybe a “sneaky smile” might fit better? Just a suggestion :)

And finally, the chapter’s namesake, the blessing! I’m intrigued— it seems like a blessing is a pretty serious thing, judging by Malia and Thane’s reactions. Overall, I’m excited to see where the story goes next! :D




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Sat Feb 27, 2021 3:58 pm
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Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review! (Thanks for tagging me, btw.)

I really enjoyed this. I feel like I might say this every time, but this is my new favorite section. It just keeps getting better and better!!

Again, I think you nailed the dynamic between Malia and Charax. You got the banter down, and it was super entertaining to read. Also, poor Hasda, he was kinda like the third wheel. I also really loved the little bet that Malia and Thane had about whether Charax would actually read the letter; that bit made me laugh.

I'm wondering what's going to come next! The way this ended was very interesting. I'm curious about the implications of Charax's blessing... does it mean that Hasda will never truly become Malia's champion? She seemed both shocked and also kind of disappointed. I'm really curious as to what it means for Hasda and Charax. You can't keep me hanging like this! :D

One thing I suggest is to put some of Charax's thoughts in italics. Two places I noticed this were at the beginning with

"Oh, baby, do I have news for you."

and also
Oh yes, it was quite simple, wasn’t it? Once mighty death god, once god of war, living a life of peace and raising a child to be kind and gentle to all. How could I ever mistake your intentions with him?


I think, since these read more like direct thoughts rather than narration, they should be in italics. Having them without a separate formatting causes a sort of... tone shift in the narration from formal to casual that reads a little awkwardly.

Specifics

“I was a century and a half older than you, and lest you start scaring the youngling,” I wagged a finger at her, “we were both well into our first millenniums before we met. So I don’t want to hear any of this age nonsense.”


Since you're interrupting the dialogue without a dialogue tag, you need to use an em dash. Properly structured, it should look like this:

“I was a century and a half older than you, and lest you start scaring the youngling”—I wagged a finger at her—“we were both well into our first millenniums before we met. So I don’t want to hear any of this age nonsense.”

You do it again, here:

I shook my head. “My time has long since passed, boy. Plus, it will do you good to stretch your wings,” I glanced at Malia, “metaphorically speaking, without my holding you back.”


Overall: really nice job! I'm super hyped to see what comes next!




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Sat Feb 27, 2021 6:44 am
Spearmint says...



Hi, Spearmint here! Just wanted to say, this was awesome (like all the other chapters were too) :D Sorry, I don’t have much time right now, but I’ll be sure to give a more in-depth review tomorrow!





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