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The Many Gifts of Malia--Part 7: "The Tailor"

by dragonfphoenix


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

I spent most of the day trundling through the forest, creaking like a leaky old boat out to sea. The wildlife kept their distance, which was all well and good because I wanted some space. My gloomy mood clashed with the cheery sunlight, the blasted rays brightening everything and giving the say a syrupy-sweet, happy aura. Maybe I could get old Zephyrus to send some rain, but then, that would require returning to Nebesa, and I wouldn’t do that, especially not for something as insignificant as a mood setter. But then I realized I could just swing by his temple while I was in the village and send a message through his priests. He may not believe the request was from me, but in all my years I’d never heard of a mortal pretending to be a crotchety old god so what the heck.

The journey was longer, slower, and lonelier than usual, and I felt every joint in my body before the first day had even finished. The few times I’d had to visit before, Hasda had been there, eager to see the settlement and villagers and the outside world in general. He’d been bright-eyed and full of wonder every time, even well after he had his first bit of stubble.

I frowned. Strange. I remembered him discovering that initial smattering of facial hair but not the time between then and now, when he’d grown a full beard. Not a week ago and those two events were blurred together in my mind. The increase in my memory’s definition was...unsettling, but I chalked it up to an increase of vigor in my spirits from the recent trip to Nebesa. Hopefully the heavenly realm’s influence was temporary, and I could go back to fading away in peace.

Four days after I’d left Hasda behind with Malia, I finally reached the little farming village that stood as the closest bit of civilization to my decaying temple. It wasn’t much to speak of, just a gathering of wooden huts, a few of them log cabins recessed in the hills, with rough wooden fencing surrounding the pastures and fields. Pigs and cows made up the majority of the livestock, though they’d started raising horses in the past few generations, and the equine population had grown quite a bit since my last visit. Not enough to replace beef as the staple meat, but a strong contender.

I startled a farmer who was out weeding his wheatfield. An accident, of course. I just meant to ask him if the tailor was in, but it’d been long enough since my last visit that the villagers must have forgotten of my existence. Maybe with Hasda gone, I would pay them more frequent visits, but I’d have a think about it after I got my robes taken in.

The farmer muttered something that sounded positive and gestured vaguely towards the village before ducking down again, grumbling as he snatched at the weeds that had invaded his field. Though I wasn’t sure he was paying attention, I thanked him anyways and lumbered into what passed for the village square. The houses here had been arranged in a loose circle, with symbols painted on the “shops” to indicate what was where, as if the couple dozen or so inhabitants didn’t know everyone and their mother already. They did get the occasional trader, though, and they wanted to appear fancy, but they also seemed to have forgotten that the village temple looked like little more than a repurposed outhouse. Their symbols were streaks of black paint and, when that was gone, smears of charcoal and ash, too. It was a homey atmosphere and they tried their best.

Not that I was complaining. It was certainly better maintained than my temple, which was only as clean as it was because I was...had been raising Hasda. I sighed. The old wreck would probably be proper ruins in a decade or so, now that the lad was gone. It hadn’t bothered me before, but I guess I’d grown accustomed to the slightly-above-collapsing state it’d been in for the last three decades now. Oh well. Life goes on, as they say.

I found the house with the diagonal slash of black paint that somehow represented a needle and thread and knocked on the door. The curtains were down and the inside of the cabin was dark, but the morning hadn’t quite given way to the afternoon yet, so the tailor might still be in bed. A sleepy voice inside confirmed this, shouting for patience through its owner’s grogginess. After lots of shuffling and racketing about, the wiry tailor opened the door.

He’d put on a bathrobe and quite a few wrinkles, not that he’d had a choice about the latter. If my memory wasn’t completely gone, he should be nearing his fifth decade soon, if he hadn’t reached it already, and it showed in the lines on his face and his receding hairline. He blinked up at me, jerked awake when he realized who I was, yelped an invective, and slammed the door shut in the time it took me to open my mouth.

I frowned, mouth hanging open stupidly, my raised finger curling in on itself. Well that was unusual. Surely I didn’t look that bad?

The door swung open again, but this time the man had fully dressed and slapped his spectacles on his face. His white shirt and tan pants were baggy, a faded measuring tape draped around his neck like a scarf. His collar held an array of needles, shoved in like rounds of ammunition. He bowed low, his long hair falling into his face in thin strands. Someone was compensating for the hair loss, all right.

“Apologies, Lord Charax,” the tailor muttered. “I wasn’t expecting you so soon.”

“So soon?” I echoed, stepping into the dim interior.

“Ah, yes.” He laughed nervously and pulled the door shut behind me before scooting over to the table to light some candles. “I expected to be a very old man before you came needing my services, what with you making all the lad’s clothes yourself and you being a god and all.”

I frowned. “I’m not sure I follow.”

His fingers danced together and he wouldn’t meet my eyes. “The lad is gone, yes?”

How did he know that? “Yes.”

The tailor nodded thoughtfully. “I don’t mean to make your sorrow worse, this is merely to prepare myself for the work, but how did he go?”

“Through a portal.”

“I see.” He blinked. “Well, that would make measuring the lad difficult, then. Would you rather an effigy, or just a shroud?”

Oh. So that’s what he meant. I laughed. “No, no, it’s not for Hasda.”

“It’s not?” Confusion washed over his face.

“No.” I shook my head, smiling. “The lad is fine. Well, as fine as he can be, being tugged about by the whims of the gods. No, I need your help.”

The man straightened with a relieved sigh. “I’m glad. Mourning gods can be touchy customers.”

I raised an eyebrow. “But I am grieving. Very grumpy. Grrr.” I wiggled my fingers at him. Of course, my emotions were rather turbulent at the moment, but I hadn’t admitted that to myself yet, so I certainly wasn’t going to say that to him.

Fingers fluttering, he chuckled nervously. “As you say, Lord Charax. So what work could my humble personage offer to you today?”

“I need my robes taken in,” I said, lifting my sleeves. “My hem has been dragging for...I’m not sure, I’ve lost track of how long it’s been going on now. Far longer than is good for the material, that’s for sure.”

“Indeed.” He knelt down and examined the damaged edge. Fingering the material, he said, “Would you like me to sew a buffer over it, or just raise the hem?”

“Raising the hem should suffice.”

“Very well.” He straightened and pulled the measuring tape off his neck. “If you would be so kind, Lord Charax.”

Being measured felt silly. My arms and legs were lifted every which way, the tape whizzing between the tailor’s fingers as he took my marks. His tongue peeked between his lips as he concentrated. The robes fluttered as he pushed them this way and that, the folds giving and bending and reforming. Frowning, he let go of my robes and went back at my limbs, stringing me out like a scarecrow. The lines on his forehead deepened and he measured my legs a third time.

“Is something wrong?” I asked.

More nervous chuckles. “Well, you see, Lord Charax…” He held the tape up and pinched it. “This is how long your robes are. And this,” he slid his fingers not even a centimeter down the tape, “is where your legs end. Now, I could take the edge up that little bit if you’d like, but I’d have to make the robe too short in order to get any kind of hem in at all.”

What? I grabbed my robes, lifted them, and stared as they fell to roughly where they belonged. A few experimental steps showed that they weren’t, in fact, dragging on the ground anymore either.

I shook my head. “I don’t know what happened. I’ve been tripping over them for months.”

“I’m sorry, Lord Charax,” the tailor said, wringing his hands. “I wish I could be of more help.”

“You’ve done me a great service.” I patted the man awkwardly on the shoulder.

“No judgmental fire and brimstone?”

“None.” I frowned. “I’ve been a god of peace for a long time now, er,...”

“Juniper,” the man said.

I nodded. “Yes, well, Juniper, I’ll leave you to your work now.”

As I opened the door, he said, “If you do need funeral garb for the lad, please, ah, give me some advance warning?”

“Will do.” I shut the door behind me and glared at the burning sun. It wasn’t the star’s fault that my robes had magically shrunk on the journey over here, but they had all the same and I didn’t want to take out my annoyance on the tailor. Grumbling, I pulled up my robes out of habit and then released them. The stupid things weren’t going to be tripping me up anymore, if they didn’t suddenly grow on the way back.

I sighed. It was going to be a long walk.


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Mon May 24, 2021 6:27 am
KateHardy wrote a review...



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

Hi! I'm here for yet another review!!! Things are still going strong....woohoo...and I continue to really enjoy reading this story.

First Impression: Well...this was quite an interesting tailor we met here...I wonder if we'll ever run into him again...he definitely seems like quite the character at any rate..although good thing Charax isn't the type of god to take small misunderstanding and destroy villages for it.

Anyway let's get right to it,

I spent most of the day trundling through the forest, creaking like a leaky old boat out to sea. The wildlife kept their distance, which was all well and good because I wanted some space. My gloomy mood clashed with the cheery sunlight, the blasted rays brightening everything and giving the say a syrupy-sweet, happy aura. Maybe I could get old Zephyrus to send some rain, but then, that would require returning to Nebesa, and I wouldn’t do that, especially not for something as insignificant as a mood setter. But then I realized I could just swing by his temple while I was in the village and send a message through his priests. He may not believe the request was from me, but in all my years I’d never heard of a mortal pretending to be a crotchety old god so what the heck.


Hmm...well...the lengths the poor guy has to go to just cause he wants a bit of rain...

The journey was longer, slower, and lonelier than usual, and I felt every joint in my body before the first day had even finished. The few times I’d had to visit before, Hasda had been there, eager to see the settlement and villagers and the outside world in general. He’d been bright-eyed and full of wonder every time, even well after he had his first bit of stubble.


Aww...these little scenes are doing wonderfully there to bring up the backstory in that large timeskip and it just adds so much to the story here. :D

I frowned. Strange. I remembered him discovering that initial smattering of facial hair but not the time between then and now, when he’d grown a full beard. Not a week ago and those two events were blurred together in my mind. The increase in my memory’s definition was...unsettling, but I chalked it up to an increase of vigor in my spirits from the recent trip to Nebesa. Hopefully the heavenly realm’s influence was temporary, and I could go back to fading away in peace.


Hmm...well that's an interesting side effect...I wonder how that is going to influence this going forward...hmm...perhaps there was something happening just from his presence in that place after all.

Four days after I’d left Hasda behind with Malia, I finally reached the little farming village that stood as the closest bit of civilization to my decaying temple. It wasn’t much to speak of, just a gathering of wooden huts, a few of them log cabins recessed in the hills, with rough wooden fencing surrounding the pastures and fields. Pigs and cows made up the majority of the livestock, though they’d started raising horses in the past few generations, and the equine population had grown quite a bit since my last visit. Not enough to replace beef as the staple meat, but a strong contender.


Okay...pretty nice and simple village setting there....pretty good description there to introduce to what's going on.

I startled a farmer who was out weeding his wheatfield. An accident, of course. I just meant to ask him if the tailor was in, but it’d been long enough since my last visit that the villagers must have forgotten of my existence. Maybe with Hasda gone, I would pay them more frequent visits, but I’d have a think about it after I got my robes taken in.

The farmer muttered something that sounded positive and gestured vaguely towards the village before ducking down again, grumbling as he snatched at the weeds that had invaded his field. Though I wasn’t sure he was paying attention, I thanked him anyways and lumbered into what passed for the village square. The houses here had been arranged in a loose circle, with symbols painted on the “shops” to indicate what was where, as if the couple dozen or so inhabitants didn’t know everyone and their mother already. They did get the occasional trader, though, and they wanted to appear fancy, but they also seemed to have forgotten that the village temple looked like little more than a repurposed outhouse. Their symbols were streaks of black paint and, when that was gone, smears of charcoal and ash, too. It was a homey atmosphere and they tried their best.


Well...all these village descriptions are definitely creating a nice little atmosphere for this place here and establishing it pretty well as I sitting.

Not that I was complaining. It was certainly better maintained than my temple, which was only as clean as it was because I was...had been raising Hasda. I sighed. The old wreck would probably be proper ruins in a decade or so, now that the lad was gone. It hadn’t bothered me before, but I guess I’d grown accustomed to the slightly-above-collapsing state it’d been in for the last three decades now. Oh well. Life goes on, as they say.


Well...I guess everything has to eventually collapse sadly..and its not like he's going to be around for to much longer.

I found the house with the diagonal slash of black paint that somehow represented a needle and thread and knocked on the door. The curtains were down and the inside of the cabin was dark, but the morning hadn’t quite given way to the afternoon yet, so the tailor might still be in bed. A sleepy voice inside confirmed this, shouting for patience through its owner’s grogginess. After lots of shuffling and racketing about, the wiry tailor opened the door.

He’d put on a bathrobe and quite a few wrinkles, not that he’d had a choice about the latter. If my memory wasn’t completely gone, he should be nearing his fifth decade soon, if he hadn’t reached it already, and it showed in the lines on his face and his receding hairline. He blinked up at me, jerked awake when he realized who I was, yelped an invective, and slammed the door shut in the time it took me to open my mouth.


Oh dear...now why would he be so terrified there as to slam the door shut and go running...

I frowned, mouth hanging open stupidly, my raised finger curling in on itself. Well that was unusual. Surely I didn’t look that bad?


Ahh...hitting us with some of that classic humor...ahh...

The door swung open again, but this time the man had fully dressed and slapped his spectacles on his face. His white shirt and tan pants were baggy, a faded measuring tape draped around his neck like a scarf. His collar held an array of needles, shoved in like rounds of ammunition. He bowed low, his long hair falling into his face in thin strands. Someone was compensating for the hair loss, all right.


Ooooh...well...that does make a lot of sense...running back to get himself more presentable...although xD...slamming the door in his face...that's quite a reaction.

“Apologies, Lord Charax,” the tailor muttered. “I wasn’t expecting you so soon.”

“So soon?” I echoed, stepping into the dim interior.

“Ah, yes.” He laughed nervously and pulled the door shut behind me before scooting over to the table to light some candles. “I expected to be a very old man before you came needing my services, what with you making all the lad’s clothes yourself and you being a god and all.”


Hmm...well..that's a very interesting thing for the tailor to say...

I frowned. “I’m not sure I follow.”

His fingers danced together and he wouldn’t meet my eyes. “The lad is gone, yes?”

How did he know that? “Yes.”


Wow...this tailor knows a lot...although I have a feeling when he says gone...he's probably referring to something other than left on a quest....either that or Malia has been over here as well which I highly doubt.

The tailor nodded thoughtfully. “I don’t mean to make your sorrow worse, this is merely to prepare myself for the work, but how did he go?”

“Through a portal.”

“I see.” He blinked. “Well, that would make measuring the lad difficult, then. Would you rather an effigy, or just a shroud?”


Ahh...well...its always fun when a prediction comes out correct....I've been pretty good at guessing things so far in this story...xD

Oh. So that’s what he meant. I laughed. “No, no, it’s not for Hasda.”

“It’s not?” Confusion washed over his face.

“No.” I shook my head, smiling. “The lad is fine. Well, as fine as he can be, being tugged about by the whims of the gods. No, I need your help.”

The man straightened with a relieved sigh. “I’m glad. Mourning gods can be touchy customers.”


Now that last line I can whole heartedly agree with...phew...those can be verry tricky days.

I raised an eyebrow. “But I am grieving. Very grumpy. Grrr.” I wiggled my fingers at him. Of course, my emotions were rather turbulent at the moment, but I hadn’t admitted that to myself yet, so I certainly wasn’t going to say that to him.

Fingers fluttering, he chuckled nervously. “As you say, Lord Charax. So what work could my humble personage offer to you today?”


Oh gosh...he went just full cartoon grumpy grandpa there for a moment and I'm loving it right now.

“I need my robes taken in,” I said, lifting my sleeves. “My hem has been dragging for...I’m not sure, I’ve lost track of how long it’s been going on now. Far longer than is good for the material, that’s for sure.”

“Indeed.” He knelt down and examined the damaged edge. Fingering the material, he said, “Would you like me to sew a buffer over it, or just raise the hem?”


Hmm...well it looks like he knows his stuff at least...that's always a good sign.

“Raising the hem should suffice.”

“Very well.” He straightened and pulled the measuring tape off his neck. “If you would be so kind, Lord Charax.”

Being measured felt silly. My arms and legs were lifted every which way, the tape whizzing between the tailor’s fingers as he took my marks. His tongue peeked between his lips as he concentrated. The robes fluttered as he pushed them this way and that, the folds giving and bending and reforming. Frowning, he let go of my robes and went back at my limbs, stringing me out like a scarecrow. The lines on his forehead deepened and he measured my legs a third time.


Well...that's a really sequence of tape measuring although I have to wonder what exactly all of that frowning is all about.

“Is something wrong?” I asked.

More nervous chuckles. “Well, you see, Lord Charax…” He held the tape up and pinched it. “This is how long your robes are. And this,” he slid his fingers not even a centimeter down the tape, “is where your legs end. Now, I could take the edge up that little bit if you’d like, but I’d have to make the robe too short in order to get any kind of hem in at all.”

What? I grabbed my robes, lifted them, and stared as they fell to roughly where they belonged. A few experimental steps showed that they weren’t, in fact, dragging on the ground anymore either.


Wait a minute....that shouldn't be right...hmm....the mysteries of the effects of that place continue to increase...well...well...this is starting to get quite exciting now.

I shook my head. “I don’t know what happened. I’ve been tripping over them for months.”

“I’m sorry, Lord Charax,” the tailor said, wringing his hands. “I wish I could be of more help.”

“You’ve done me a great service.” I patted the man awkwardly on the shoulder.

“No judgmental fire and brimstone?”


Well...I suppose he wanted to double check there the poor guy.

“None.” I frowned. “I’ve been a god of peace for a long time now, er,...”

“Juniper,” the man said.

I nodded. “Yes, well, Juniper, I’ll leave you to your work now.”

As I opened the door, he said, “If you do need funeral garb for the lad, please, ah, give me some advance warning?”


Not entirely he should've ended with that line but ehh...I guess its a man that's very eager to do something for a god maybe...I don't know.

“Will do.” I shut the door behind me and glared at the burning sun. It wasn’t the star’s fault that my robes had magically shrunk on the journey over here, but they had all the same and I didn’t want to take out my annoyance on the tailor. Grumbling, I pulled up my robes out of habit and then released them. The stupid things weren’t going to be tripping me up anymore, if they didn’t suddenly grow on the way back.

I sighed. It was going to be a long walk.


Well...I suppose he can at least be happy about them not tripping him up....that sounds like a good thing.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Well this seems like a lovely little filler chapter of sorts that's also hinting at perhaps some sneaky plot in the background that will have our man Charax return to Nebesa sometime soon....we shall see I suppose.

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

Stay Safe
Harry




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Fri Mar 05, 2021 3:50 pm
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BEASTtheHUN says...



I love this story, the pacing is just right. The flow is definitely taking me where you as a writer want me to be. The dialogue was very good, and I find myself immersed in this story. I would say that I came in late, so I haven't read your previous ones, but I definitely will because I really enjoyed this one.




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Wed Mar 03, 2021 2:40 pm
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Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

This chapter is quite a shift from the ones that came before it, but I think it's great! I really love everything that happens, and I'm loving the shift back to Charax and his own life.

One thing I think you did really well in this was the pacing. I didn't feel bored at all, which an achievement in and of itself (I've got a short attention span lol). Even though most of it was just description and stuff rather than dialogue, you've got such a great way of writing it that it's never boring. I really love this story and am super invested in it. I feel like I haven't said how great it is explicitly, so I will. THIS STORY IS SUPER GOOD and I ABSOLUTELY ADORE IT.

One thing I wondered about is where you're going to take the story. I think I've probably mentioned this in other reviews, but I think you've taken an interesting perspective with this story. From what the reader can see now, this story is focused on Charax rather than Hasda, who is the most likely one to have an action-packed story. I'm curious whether you're going to continue Charax's perspective (because, as of now, I'm not sure how you're going to incorporate points of action into it, based on his character and values) or if you're going to alternate POV or do something else with Hasda. If you continue with Charax's POV, I'm curious if there's going to be a new problem introduced for him. The robe thing seems like it's leading up to something...

Specifics

He’d been bright-eyed and full of wonder every time, even well after he had his first bit of stubble.

I frowned. Strange. I remembered him discovering that initial smattering of facial hair but not the time between then and now, when he’d grown a full beard. Not a week ago and those two events were blurred together in my mind. The increase in my memory’s definition was...unsettling, but I chalked it up to an increase of vigor in my spirits from the recent trip to Nebesa.


I also found this part confusing, for the same reasons as the other review. I think there are too many contradicting points, and it's a little vague. I couldn't quite get what you wanted to say here. I think maybe rephrasing it would help a little.

I really enjoyed the whole tailor scene, and the whole miscommunication between the tailor and Charax about Hasda's nonexistent funeral shroud. I thought it added a nice bit of lighthearted entertainment in the middle of a generally serious piece.

Overall: great job! I'm so so so excited to see where you take this next!




dragonfphoenix says...


Haha, I'm glad you like the story so much. I've really enjoyed writing it.

At this point, I don't plan to switch POVs. Charax is moving towards something, and I think you'll like it once he gets there. But he's not quite there yet.

Thanks for the input on the confusing part. I'll be reworking it later to clear that up



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Spearmint wrote a review...



Hey, Spearmint here with a review! Getting right to it...

like a leaky old boat out to sea

Very nice simile here! Charax could definitely be considered creaky like an old boat, and perhaps he’s feeling adrift now too without Hasda to tether him to shore. And maybe I’m going kind of overboard here but the “leaky” part makes me think that Charax is on the verge of sinking...

...I remembered him discovering that initial smattering of facial hair but not the time between then and now, when he’d grown a full beard. Not a week ago and those two events were blurred together in my mind. The increase in my memory’s definition was...unsettling...

Okay, maybe it’s just me, but I think this part could be clarified more? The first sentence talks about how Charax couldn’t remember “the time between then and now,” which implies that his memory isn’t that good. But the third sentence mentions an “increase” in his memory’s definition. I get that Charax’s memory still isn’t good, although it’s better than before, but it took me a second read-through to get it. This is how I might change it: “...I remembered him discovering that initial smattering of facial hair, the memory distinct from the time he’d grown a full beard...” (Although I think that may not be the exact meaning you’re going for.)

Moving on, the scene when Charax meets the tailor is awesome! This part is especially funny:
I frowned, mouth hanging open stupidly, my raised finger curling in on itself. Well that was unusual. Surely I didn’t look that bad?

XD Charax seems pretty unaware of the impressive amount of respect he commands. Despite being an old god, the villagers seem rather terrified of him. Interesting...

What’s even more interesting is that Charax’s robes have magically shrunk (or has he grown? O.O):
Grumbling, I pulled up my robes out of habit and then released them. The stupid things weren’t going to be tripping me up anymore, if they didn’t suddenly grow on the way back.

Is Charax reviving? Coming back to life? Living? (I don’t know the proper antonym for “dying” :p) Anyways, great job on this chapter and I’m excited to find out what Charax’ll do next!




dragonfphoenix says...


Ooh, the sinking aspect wasn't something I'd considered, although maybe that could be applied to something coming up... ;)

The way I'm picturing it is he's "recovering" his lost powers and former glory for...forthcoming reasons. I haven't been able to work this detail in yet, but the robes have "shrunk" because he's stopped stooping so much when he walks, another aspect of his recovery.




This is a house of homes, a sacred place, by human passion made divinely sweet.
— Alfred Joyce Kilmer