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The Many Gifts of Malia--Part 69: "The Sisters"

by dragonfphoenix


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

I missed.

Oh, I landed the blow all right. But she had been paying closer attention than I gave her credit for, and she jerked back just in time so the spearhead merely caught her in the shoulder instead. She shrieked twisted like a skewered fish, yanking the shaft back and forth as she tried to free herself.

Grunting, I pressed forward, angling her down towards the water. I couldn’t get any leverage with her feet floating above the surface, though, and she wasn’t doing me any favors. With an ear-piercing scream she pulled the Spear out.

“Fiend!” Her eyes glowed as fiercely as her wound bled. “How dare you!”

“I dare.” Another thrust, although she was out of range down. I still had to try. “We have enough rogue gods running amok.”

Her teeth flashed, pointed and glistening with saliva. “So we will rise.”

Wet, hairy tendrils curled around my ankles. They yanked, nearly upending me face-first into the marsh, as she hissed in delight. I stumbled, blindly stabbing at whatever creature lurked beneath the water.

“These waters are ours.” The witch cackled. “We claim them as our domain.”

“You’re going to…have to ascend first,” I grunted. Bony fingers wrapped around my exposed shin bones, burrowing into the ever-increasing strands of hair. I was nearly rooted in place merely by the weight, and the hairs threading my ankles together weren’t helping the matter any.

But the fingers betrayed the direction of the creature’s head. With an effort, I twisted and plunged the Spear into the water. The head glanced off the black-haired witch’s thick skull, grazing her ear as it embedded in the hollow behind her collarbone.

Instinct made me vanish my Spear as I collapsed into the water. Although the fingers withdrew, the cords of hair did not, and I nearly lost both legs as the witch thrashed away from me. Her injury bled far less than her sister’s, however. In a flash she was above me, pushing me deeper into the water as she glared at me with dead eyes.

I laughed. “Your merrow impression is very good. Unfortunately, I’m a poor victim.”

“You mock us.” She bared a mouthful of fangs in my face. “Yet here you lie, beneath the swamp, while we swim.”

It took her far too long to realize we were sinking. My ribs and spine buried themselves in the muddy bed as I leadened my bones. Her hair was a rat’s nest wended around my skeleton by now, anchoring her with me as much as it ensnared me. I let her panic as she realized she’d trapped herself.

“You’re in way over your head.” I gave her a skeletal smile and enjoyed the way she jerked, failing to flee. “I’ve been holding back. Come to my level. Achieve godhood. I’d love to go all out.”

Her fingers—talons now—scythed between us, severing the strands that bound us together. In the most undignified way she swam to the surface, launching herself at her sister to get away from me. The bushy-haired sorceress recoiled herself when I unveiled a bit of my power. I hadn’t been bluffing about holding back, but I wasn’t as adapted to fighting in this environment as they were. Sloshing through the water, I stumbled towards them and exuded power.

“Punching down could propel us up.” The witch hid behind the statement, shying away from me.

“We’re past that point already. Best thing now is to put you down before you get too full of yourself.” I leaned heavily on my Spear as I closed the distance between us. Their aura swirled around them in a steadily rising rhythm, close to spilling over into godhood. If I found an opening, I could chop off the base and drain it all away. But the dark-haired enchantress darted underwater, diving this way and that in search of more hydra eggshells. I’d have to pin the floating sorceress first, then worry about fishing the second out of the marsh.

The bushy-haired one stared at me, wide-eyed, and raised her hands. Fronds of swamp weeds shivered in response, threading together to form stringy figures. Not quite sylvans—telmans?—the creatures moved in whip-like jerks that splashed small plumes of water. Living snares the telmans were, and I’d had my share of entanglements for the day.

A sweep of my Spear took the first rank down, a backstroke clearing the second just as easily. Still they rose, delaying my advance on the slowly retreating Serynis.

Growling, I vanished my Spear and darted forward. Enough delays. I was ending this, now.

Something big and fleshy slammed into me. Staticky power splashed over me, washing around the mass that pushed me under the water. Whatever power that was, it hadn’t come from the thing that’d collided with me, but I disliked it all the same. Sputtering, I struggled against the slippery, muddy bottom of the marsh. Then the weight lifted, and strong hands pulled me out.

Hair dripping, Hasda held me up and gave me a concerned look. “Sorry. You okay?”

I glanced down at the floating mass, which turned out to be a portion of the hydra’s neck. Quenching a shiver, I patted his shoulder. “Yeah. You should take better care of that.”

“Sorry.” He winced. “I’m trying—”

I shoved him aside as the above-water witch launched herself at his back. Clamping my bony fingers around her arms, I plunged her under the water and held her there. She fought, but couldn’t dislodge my grip.

“Can you handle the mongoose?” I asked. The witch thrashed harder, nearly knocking me over. I winced as the djinn’s purple aura shrouded him.

“Maybe.” He had a look in his eyes I didn’t like. “We have to, for her. It killed her young.”

I nodded. “Do what you must. Just don’t lose yourself in the process.”

He blinked, and a little of that unnatural look cleared from his eyes. Sheepish, he turned to go back to the hydra. “I will.”

“Good.” The witch bucked harder than I’d thought her capable. “Will you—”

An aurora of power bloomed beneath the surface, scattering the swamp scum as the oily light dispersed.

Damn it.

I dragged her up and threw her halfway across the swamp. Hasda looked confused, but I shooed him away with barely a backwards glance. This was going to be a nasty shitfest, and he’d be safer with the hydra. Relatively speaking.

Her coppery hair, now drenched, curled around her head like a skullcap. A pulse of power surged through her, flinging her arms out and her head back. The aftershock dried her, her hair springing into frizzy contortions. Beams of light burst from her eyes as her bond with her sister blazed. Now as thin as spider silk, the silvery thread pinpointed the black-haired witch, hidden beneath the severed segment of the hydra.

The little shit slithered out, streaks of blood ringing her mouth from where she’d feasted on the hydra’s flesh. Nothing I could’ve done to stop that, but it was extremely unfortunate that she’d found a new source of power. The fresh meat had more than enough divine essence to tip them past the point of demigod. And with that influx of essence, they crossed the boundary into divinity.

Thanks to their ascension, the Serynis Sisters would have a brief period of unbridled power as they came into their own. They were an infant, unworshipped deity, though, and the worst that would happen was they’d claim the Ibithian marshlands as their own and become a swamp bogey. But if they decided to roam, they’d most likely sow chaos and destruction in their wake. And with the impending Paeden conflict, I really didn’t want an unclaimed deity terrorizing our flank.

Their bond was nothing like mine and Malia’s, though. It quivered as the Sisters wrestled with their newfound power, tying their identities together into a single entity. They were still unsettled on their particular form, whether they would share an identity or be aspects of themselves. Apparently they hadn’t discussed it beforehand, because I managed to skewer the bushy-haired one and pin the other beneath her while they squabbled and hissed.

The copper-haired one looked almost vampiric as she snarled at me, her eyes bloodshot and angry. Trapped beneath her, her sister squirmed and pushed. It took a moment to register that the warm, rusty tongues dancing on her dark eyes were reflections of the jets of flame streaking above us.

A blast knocked me off my feet. Amber fire dashed across the water, apple-sized fireballs skipping along the surface. Two more geysers of flames joined the first as the hydra reared its heads and boiled the marsh. In my skeletal form, I didn’t much mind the heat, but the flames were blinding and the pressure nearly oppressive.

When the flames cleared, ash fell like heavy snow. Trees all around me stood charred, their limbs stripped of bark. Wisps of steam fogged from the swamp, raising the stink of burnt wet foliage.

The Serynis Sisters were gone.


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Wed May 11, 2022 6:45 am
KateHardy 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: Hmm...well we have the long awaited ascension happen there. I was really rooting for it not to happen, but I suppose it was inevitable. I think you certainly did do a good job of keeping both possibilities open pretty much till the last minute though.

Anyway let's get right to it,

I missed.

Oh, I landed the blow all right. But she had been paying closer attention than I gave her credit for, and she jerked back just in time so the spearhead merely caught her in the shoulder instead. She shrieked twisted like a skewered fish, yanking the shaft back and forth as she tried to free herself.

Grunting, I pressed forward, angling her down towards the water. I couldn’t get any leverage with her feet floating above the surface, though, and she wasn’t doing me any favors. With an ear-piercing scream she pulled the Spear out.

“Fiend!” Her eyes glowed as fiercely as her wound bled. “How dare you!”


Well that went better than it could have possibly. I wasn't expecting for things to go wrong there...but it seems that at the very least not all was lost with that particular attack. Given how things have been developing of late, that's much better than it had the potential to be.

“I dare.” Another thrust, although she was out of range down. I still had to try. “We have enough rogue gods running amok.”

Her teeth flashed, pointed and glistening with saliva. “So we will rise.”

Wet, hairy tendrils curled around my ankles. They yanked, nearly upending me face-first into the marsh, as she hissed in delight. I stumbled, blindly stabbing at whatever creature lurked beneath the water.

“These waters are ours.” The witch cackled. “We claim them as our domain.”

“You’re going to…have to ascend first,” I grunted. Bony fingers wrapped around my exposed shin bones, burrowing into the ever-increasing strands of hair. I was nearly rooted in place merely by the weight, and the hairs threading my ankles together weren’t helping the matter any.


Well...that part was to be expected given the kind of thing that started up earlier, although I did not see that whole claiming part coming. I am going to safely assume that whatever that declaration is, its going to do more than possibly just trap and injure Charax like what's going on right now.

But the fingers betrayed the direction of the creature’s head. With an effort, I twisted and plunged the Spear into the water. The head glanced off the black-haired witch’s thick skull, grazing her ear as it embedded in the hollow behind her collarbone.

Instinct made me vanish my Spear as I collapsed into the water. Although the fingers withdrew, the cords of hair did not, and I nearly lost both legs as the witch thrashed away from me. Her injury bled far less than her sister’s, however. In a flash she was above me, pushing me deeper into the water as she glared at me with dead eyes.

I laughed. “Your merrow impression is very good. Unfortunately, I’m a poor victim.”

“You mock us.” She bared a mouthful of fangs in my face. “Yet here you lie, beneath the swamp, while we swim.”


Well...to be honest I am not completely certain who has the upper hand in this moment, for a moment it was in a bit of balance but right now this trash talking is currently not doing quite enough for to identify whose actually winning...but I can sense more tension building itself up yet another time for another possible conclusion or maybe another surprise, let's see where this is going.

It took her far too long to realize we were sinking. My ribs and spine buried themselves in the muddy bed as I leadened my bones. Her hair was a rat’s nest wended around my skeleton by now, anchoring her with me as much as it ensnared me. I let her panic as she realized she’d trapped herself.

“You’re in way over your head.” I gave her a skeletal smile and enjoyed the way she jerked, failing to flee. “I’ve been holding back. Come to my level. Achieve godhood. I’d love to go all out.”

Her fingers—talons now—scythed between us, severing the strands that bound us together. In the most undignified way she swam to the surface, launching herself at her sister to get away from me. The bushy-haired sorceress recoiled herself when I unveiled a bit of my power. I hadn’t been bluffing about holding back, but I wasn’t as adapted to fighting in this environment as they were. Sloshing through the water, I stumbled towards them and exuded power.


Aha so it was indeed a twist although a different kind of one for a change, it seems this time Charax is the one that's secretly going to end up getting some sort of upper hand although I am quite certain there'll be something happening to completely counter that not too long from now.

“Punching down could propel us up.” The witch hid behind the statement, shying away from me.

“We’re past that point already. Best thing now is to put you down before you get too full of yourself.” I leaned heavily on my Spear as I closed the distance between us. Their aura swirled around them in a steadily rising rhythm, close to spilling over into godhood. If I found an opening, I could chop off the base and drain it all away. But the dark-haired enchantress darted underwater, diving this way and that in search of more hydra eggshells. I’d have to pin the floating sorceress first, then worry about fishing the second out of the marsh.

The bushy-haired one stared at me, wide-eyed, and raised her hands. Fronds of swamp weeds shivered in response, threading together to form stringy figures. Not quite sylvans—telmans?—the creatures moved in whip-like jerks that splashed small plumes of water. Living snares the telmans were, and I’d had my share of entanglements for the day.


Okayy...well something is certainly building up there. That's an interesting moment there in the midst of what has so far been a fairly intense scene, stopping to describe some seemingly random creatures. I have a feeling a few things are going to end up being important later, either that or I suppose that was meant to be a slight breather from all the tension we've had so far.

Something big and fleshy slammed into me. Staticky power splashed over me, washing around the mass that pushed me under the water. Whatever power that was, it hadn’t come from the thing that’d collided with me, but I disliked it all the same. Sputtering, I struggled against the slippery, muddy bottom of the marsh. Then the weight lifted, and strong hands pulled me out.

Hair dripping, Hasda held me up and gave me a concerned look. “Sorry. You okay?”

I glanced down at the floating mass, which turned out to be a portion of the hydra’s neck. Quenching a shiver, I patted his shoulder. “Yeah. You should take better care of that.”

“Sorry.” He winced. “I’m trying—”

I shoved him aside as the above-water witch launched herself at his back. Clamping my bony fingers around her arms, I plunged her under the water and held her there. She fought, but couldn’t dislodge my grip.


Okayy...I very nearly forgot that there was also a whole lot more going on around them given the amount of focus we've had on these two for this chapter and half of the last one, but well that's a lovely little note to make sure we know the other things that are also definitely at stake here with what's going on.

“Can you handle the mongoose?” I asked. The witch thrashed harder, nearly knocking me over. I winced as the djinn’s purple aura shrouded him.

“Maybe.” He had a look in his eyes I didn’t like. “We have to, for her. It killed her young.”

I nodded. “Do what you must. Just don’t lose yourself in the process.”

He blinked, and a little of that unnatural look cleared from his eyes. Sheepish, he turned to go back to the hydra. “I will.”

“Good.” The witch bucked harder than I’d thought her capable. “Will you—”

An aurora of power bloomed beneath the surface, scattering the swamp scum as the oily light dispersed.


Well...I assume there comes the general counter to Charax's earlier moment there, although there is not telling the scale of anything at the moment. At any rate, we're definitely about to witness the setup to a much bigger fight somehow judging by that whole wave of power and Charax's threat from earlier.

Damn it.

I dragged her up and threw her halfway across the swamp. Hasda looked confused, but I shooed him away with barely a backwards glance. This was going to be a nasty shitfest, and he’d be safer with the hydra. Relatively speaking.

Her coppery hair, now drenched, curled around her head like a skullcap. A pulse of power surged through her, flinging her arms out and her head back. The aftershock dried her, her hair springing into frizzy contortions. Beams of light burst from her eyes as her bond with her sister blazed. Now as thin as spider silk, the silvery thread pinpointed the black-haired witch, hidden beneath the severed segment of the hydra.

The little shit slithered out, streaks of blood ringing her mouth from where she’d feasted on the hydra’s flesh. Nothing I could’ve done to stop that, but it was extremely unfortunate that she’d found a new source of power. The fresh meat had more than enough divine essence to tip them past the point of demigod. And with that influx of essence, they crossed the boundary into divinity.


Well...I suppose that has been inevitable for some time...although I do love how you managed to make us hope this wouldn't happen all the way up until the last few paragraphs here. Now let's see what this is going to end up meaning here.

Their bond was nothing like mine and Malia’s, though. It quivered as the Sisters wrestled with their newfound power, tying their identities together into a single entity. They were still unsettled on their particular form, whether they would share an identity or be aspects of themselves. Apparently they hadn’t discussed it beforehand, because I managed to skewer the bushy-haired one and pin the other beneath her while they squabbled and hissed.

The copper-haired one looked almost vampiric as she snarled at me, her eyes bloodshot and angry. Trapped beneath her, her sister squirmed and pushed. It took a moment to register that the warm, rusty tongues dancing on her dark eyes were reflections of the jets of flame streaking above us.

A blast knocked me off my feet. Amber fire dashed across the water, apple-sized fireballs skipping along the surface. Two more geysers of flames joined the first as the hydra reared its heads and boiled the marsh. In my skeletal form, I didn’t much mind the heat, but the flames were blinding and the pressure nearly oppressive.

When the flames cleared, ash fell like heavy snow. Trees all around me stood charred, their limbs stripped of bark. Wisps of steam fogged from the swamp, raising the stink of burnt wet foliage.

The Serynis Sisters were gone.


Well that was a lovely touch of description there to explain that. I think it seems the end of this is going with the third option of establishing a greater threat and then having them vanish for the moment instead of having an immediate fight or having Charax somehow pull it all back. Well this definitely does make things the most mysterious of those possible ending so I am not complaining.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, it seems like towards the end we're setting up for some sort of new threat to come down the line unless these sisters of course decide to repair immediately but somehow I feel like that part might be done for now and we're going to head in a slightly different direction from the next chapter, well, let's see what ends up happening.

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

Stay Safe
Harry




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Tue Feb 15, 2022 3:23 am
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Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

Gosh, well this was a real curveball! An ascent to godhood? I certainly wasn't expecting that. It was also nice to see Charax and Hasda fighting together at the end there, and you've left it in a very interesting spot. I wonder what'll go down once the metaphorical smoke has cleared!

I do want to take a moment to address that huge twist, where Charax witnesses the Serynis sisters becoming a deity (deities? I can't tell whether they're like, one collective being or two separate ones). Traditionally, deities usually become deities through worship. I feel that's sort of how you established Jade as a god, too, right? That she was the patron of the mines and almost like a personification of them? I could be misremembering. But then here, we've got two/one character(s) becoming (a) god(s) without that worship factor; it's just all about power. I feel like the criteria for becoming a god could be a made a bit clearer, especially as other aspects of the story get more complicated. For example, is there more than one way to become a god? Is absorbing power the only way? If there is more than one way, do they differentiate among gods, depending on what way someone ascended to godhood? Etc. While all of these questions might not be relevant to the story, I think it's good information to think about, and maybe use to clarify the whole process a bit.

Once again, though, you killed it with the descriptions! Your villain bosses, for lack of a better word, are always so unique, and your descriptions really do them justice. I loved all the talk about auras and those "geysers of flames" at the end and "swamp scum" combined with "oily light"— it's all just so wonderful. You have a knack for really painting a picture and using words to elicit feelings. Each word choice feels very deliberate. Good job!

Specifics

Another thrust, although she was out of range down.


I could just be tired, but I'm not exactly sure what the function of "down" is at the end of the sentence. It just doesn't make sense to me. I'm not sure if you're missing a comma, or if you meant to write another word... or again, I could just be really tired.

Not quite sylvans—telmans?—the creatures moved in whip-like jerks that splashed small plumes of water.


omg it's me

Overall: nice work!! I definitely didn't foresee a lot of the stuff that went down in the chapter, and I look forward to more twists in the future! Until next time!




dragonfphoenix says...


The non-spoilery explanation is each pantheon functions differently. Across mythology, gods ascend many different ways. Through worship, assimilation, power, and even just fiat deities (all the other gods agreeing 'yep, you're a god'), there's a lot of different avenues. The Carthians have mostly focused on the worship aspect, although they know about the other methods. There's going to be an "ascension mechanics" discussion soon, though, because spoilers at the end of next chapter (at least that's the plan XD, might be two chapters from now).

Lol yeah, they're complicated. The Furies is probably the closest analogy to what they ended up being? "Singular" deity but many-personed. It was certainly a mess getting there though XD

Thanks. One thing I've noticed with description economy is it's the little things that make "generic" scenes stand out. It's nice, so it's something I try to maintain with each new scene.

I think GDocs changed "now" to "down" when I wasn't paying attention. My typing has been really sloppy lately, so I've had to do a bunch of whackamole >.>

"plumes" Lol nice XD




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