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The Many Gifts of Malia--Part 8: "The Leak"

by dragonfphoenix


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

The return journey didn’t just feel faster, it was faster. I took a day and a half to reach the forest instead of the two I’d needed to get to the village, and another full day to traverse the woods. My robes didn’t drag a single time throughout the journey, having decided they liked being the proper length too much to misbehave. By the end of the third day, I was back in my temple and wondering how on earth I’d managed such a pace by myself.

It couldn’t be because Hasda was gone. I’d always slowed him down, not vice versa, even counting the times we’d paused for forest lessons or leisure conversations. And it definitely wasn’t because I was getting spry in my old age. If anything I should’ve been pushing close to five days to get back home, such was my deteriorated state.

I frowned. I didn’t feel decrepit—if anything I felt more alive than I’d been when Malia had left Hasda on my doorstep. And my sensitivity to time had returned somewhere along the way as well. I should be standing here, half drooling, wondering where the time had gone for my trip to the village instead of remembering the individual days and the birds I’d seen along the way. Robins, chickadees, and a lone woodpecker. When was the last time I recalled the species I’d encountered, let alone that there’d been birds?

Grumbling, I stomped across the temple to my throne and accidentally splashed in a puddle on the floor. “Hasda, would you…” I trailed off, my voice echoing off the pillars and braziers, mocking me. I sighed. His absence would take some getting used to. My staff clacked against the stones as I made my way up the steps to plop myself on my throne. My hands were hovering over the armrests, ready to guide me into my seat, when my eyes caught the carving on the wall behind.

I’d seen that image dozens of times. It was a winged gorgon. Or it had been. But now it looked like a pegasus, rearing wildly, its eyes flashing with demonic fire. Mouth wide, it bared sharp fangs, frozen in an enraged nicker. Shocked, I stared at the image. And stared. And stared. The clattering of my staff on the ground informed my dull mind that I must have let go of the wood, but I couldn’t break off my gaze. I was entranced by this mystifying event.

Centuries. I’d been in this temple for centuries, and every day I’d seen this relief, it’d looked like a winged gorgon. Horses and snake people didn’t even remotely resemble the anatomy of one another. How could I have spent hundreds of years seeing this piece and never corrected myself?

My eyes traced the feathers in the wings, carved to great detail. Huh. With the way the wings had been depicted, outstretched yet slightly curving inwards, it almost reminded me of...Malia. And in a blink, the creature looked like a depiction of a winged gorgon again. Shaking, I closed my eyes and opened them again. The winged gorgon was still there. I went around my throne, closed my eyes, inhaled, and set my hands on the wall.

My bony fingers traced the horse’s head, the tongues of fire leaping from its eyes. I could feel the points of its fangs, dozens of them, not the vampiric canines of a gorgon. Its mane waved on its neck, its thick hooves reared to strike. The wings were the same as they’d always been. I opened my eyes, and saw the hellish pegasus.

Madness. I was going insane. I shook my head, blinked a dozen times, and stared at the relief. But the pegasus remained. Unsettled, I reclaimed my staff and collapsed onto my throne. What else wasn’t I seeing? What images had my longing heart overlaid on this temple’s interior? I stared at the pillars, but they were still the cracked, moss-speckled marble they’d always been. The floor was still a dank, uneven mess. And my throne, bless it, was still the same old stone seat it’d been since the old god had built it.

I sighed. I was doing too much of that lately, but I couldn’t help myself. Life was full of sighs and surprises, and I’d had too much of both in too short a time span. What I needed was a nice, long, relaxing vacation. I grunted. Retirement was supposed to be relaxing, and yet I’d spent...a sixth of it raising Hasda. Was it a sixth? I was never good with math, and my slipping sense of time made it impossible for me to know the exact numbers.

Seated on my throne, I relished in the fact that my detachment from time would make the years fly by. It’d been a long time coming, but I was ready to fade away. Enough of wars, enough of death, let the world have its peace. Of course, those offices never stayed empty long, and knowing Malia it’d be a good millennium before she got bored with the war machine, but at least it wouldn’t be death by my hand. Closing my eyes, I rested my head on the back of my throne and waited.

For what, I wasn’t sure, but the steady plinking of water from the roof of my temple to a puddle below quickly became irritating. Grumbling, I rose and wiped up the pool of water with some grungy rags Hasda had left behind. Nuisance erased, I returned to my throne.

It hadn’t been fifteen minutes before the puddle was back, grown to a depth that would really amplify the plunks. Snarling, I trudged back down the steps, snatched the rag off the floor, and swiped at the stupid puddle. Several times, when I leaned too far forward, the leaking spot baptized me with droplets that splashed in the most infuriating way against the back of my skull. Not thinking, I wiped the back of my head with the same rag I’d used to clean the floor and succeeded in smearing dirt, grime, and something sticky that felt like pond sludge all over my head. Great. Now I would have to give myself a proper washing as well.

To add insult to injury, it only took five minutes for the puddle to return. I’d barely returned from the basement with a suitably dust-free vase to take down to the river when that stupid plink, plunk, pallink chirruped from the floor. Sighing, I set the vase on the floor and went back down to search for a bucket or something to put under the leak. Ten minutes later, and none of the vessels I’d tried provided any relief from the annoyance. The only bucket that hadn’t been claimed by wood rot thumped like a muted drum, and the amphoras merely amplified the sound. I gave up and simply tossed the rag in the puddle.

Surprisingly, the cloth dulled the drops that it managed to catch. The puddle would soon grow too deep for the rag to sit on the floor and make the cloth float around, but for now, it was something. I collected the vase I was going to wash with and headed towards the forest. I was halfway down the hill when I realized that I’d temporally tracked the entire day. Not a single moment had slipped my attention.

My sense of time was coming back.


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Mon May 24, 2021 6:48 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 I know you're probably tired of seeing this name now but here we go...review number 7...phew...these are slowly piling up now...xD

First Impression: Well well...well...the plot continues to thicken around the strange happenings regarding Charax...oh dear...also can I just say I love how this story is titled to give prominence to that leak...this just cracks me up far too much.

Anyway let's get right to it,

The return journey didn’t just feel faster, it was faster. I took a day and a half to reach the forest instead of the two I’d needed to get to the village, and another full day to traverse the woods. My robes didn’t drag a single time throughout the journey, having decided they liked being the proper length too much to misbehave. By the end of the third day, I was back in my temple and wondering how on earth I’d managed such a pace by myself.


Ooooh dear...he's getting faster as well...well..well...the mystery continues then...should be interesting where all of this could be headed.

It couldn’t be because Hasda was gone. I’d always slowed him down, not vice versa, even counting the times we’d paused for forest lessons or leisure conversations. And it definitely wasn’t because I was getting spry in my old age. If anything I should’ve been pushing close to five days to get back home, such was my deteriorated state.

I frowned. I didn’t feel decrepit—if anything I felt more alive than I’d been when Malia had left Hasda on my doorstep. And my sensitivity to time had returned somewhere along the way as well. I should be standing here, half drooling, wondering where the time had gone for my trip to the village instead of remembering the individual days and the birds I’d seen along the way. Robins, chickadees, and a lone woodpecker. When was the last time I recalled the species I’d encountered, let alone that there’d been birds?


Oh well...this is definitely piling up here...something had to have happened back there in that heaven situation...at least that's the only plausible explanation I can come up...xD

Grumbling, I stomped across the temple to my throne and accidentally splashed in a puddle on the floor. “Hasda, would you…” I trailed off, my voice echoing off the pillars and braziers, mocking me. I sighed. His absence would take some getting used to. My staff clacked against the stones as I made my way up the steps to plop myself on my throne. My hands were hovering over the armrests, ready to guide me into my seat, when my eyes caught the carving on the wall behind.


Well that echo does a wonderful job just reinforcing that he is indeed properly gone now...and Charax is now goign to have to actually deal with that properly.

I’d seen that image dozens of times. It was a winged gorgon. Or it had been. But now it looked like a pegasus, rearing wildly, its eyes flashing with demonic fire. Mouth wide, it bared sharp fangs, frozen in an enraged nicker. Shocked, I stared at the image. And stared. And stared. The clattering of my staff on the ground informed my dull mind that I must have let go of the wood, but I couldn’t break off my gaze. I was entranced by this mystifying event.


OKay...dude...that's a great painting but that's a lot of shock for just one epic painting...what is going on here?

Centuries. I’d been in this temple for centuries, and every day I’d seen this relief, it’d looked like a winged gorgon. Horses and snake people didn’t even remotely resemble the anatomy of one another. How could I have spent hundreds of years seeing this piece and never corrected myself?


Okay...that is worth dropping you staff...agreed there...that is a massive oversight..or....something much worse.....

My eyes traced the feathers in the wings, carved to great detail. Huh. With the way the wings had been depicted, outstretched yet slightly curving inwards, it almost reminded me of...Malia. And in a blink, the creature looked like a depiction of a winged gorgon again. Shaking, I closed my eyes and opened them again. The winged gorgon was still there. I went around my throne, closed my eyes, inhaled, and set my hands on the wall.


Yup...its definitely that second option there...oh dear....what is happening to our poor Charax here...

My bony fingers traced the horse’s head, the tongues of fire leaping from its eyes. I could feel the points of its fangs, dozens of them, not the vampiric canines of a gorgon. Its mane waved on its neck, its thick hooves reared to strike. The wings were the same as they’d always been. I opened my eyes, and saw the hellish pegasus.


And the pegasus is back...is he ever going to catch a break here.

Madness. I was going insane. I shook my head, blinked a dozen times, and stared at the relief. But the pegasus remained. Unsettled, I reclaimed my staff and collapsed onto my throne. What else wasn’t I seeing? What images had my longing heart overlaid on this temple’s interior? I stared at the pillars, but they were still the cracked, moss-speckled marble they’d always been. The floor was still a dank, uneven mess. And my throne, bless it, was still the same old stone seat it’d been since the old god had built it.


Well...this is quite something...his realizing an illusion maintained by his heart for literal centuries...well...this chapter is continuing to just be chock full of surprises and I am loving it so far.

I sighed. I was doing too much of that lately, but I couldn’t help myself. Life was full of sighs and surprises, and I’d had too much of both in too short a time span. What I needed was a nice, long, relaxing vacation. I grunted. Retirement was supposed to be relaxing, and yet I’d spent...a sixth of it raising Hasda. Was it a sixth? I was never good with math, and my slipping sense of time made it impossible for me to know the exact numbers.


Well numbers have a way of doing that to you as you get older....true enough.

Seated on my throne, I relished in the fact that my detachment from time would make the years fly by. It’d been a long time coming, but I was ready to fade away. Enough of wars, enough of death, let the world have its peace. Of course, those offices never stayed empty long, and knowing Malia it’d be a good millennium before she got bored with the war machine, but at least it wouldn’t be death by my hand. Closing my eyes, I rested my head on the back of my throne and waited.


Ahh...a poor guy just trying to fade away in peace but well..it looks like someone clearly doesn't want him to go that way...at least from what we've seen happen so far...I mean...for all we know...his fading might just be getting quicker from all of these crazy happenings.

For what, I wasn’t sure, but the steady plinking of water from the roof of my temple to a puddle below quickly became irritating. Grumbling, I rose and wiped up the pool of water with some grungy rags Hasda had left behind. Nuisance erased, I returned to my throne.


Well...that was probably a good idea.

It hadn’t been fifteen minutes before the puddle was back, grown to a depth that would really amplify the plunks. Snarling, I trudged back down the steps, snatched the rag off the floor, and swiped at the stupid puddle. Several times, when I leaned too far forward, the leaking spot baptized me with droplets that splashed in the most infuriating way against the back of my skull. Not thinking, I wiped the back of my head with the same rag I’d used to clean the floor and succeeded in smearing dirt, grime, and something sticky that felt like pond sludge all over my head. Great. Now I would have to give myself a proper washing as well.


Oh no...the poor guy is a proper mess here today...I feel so sorry for him now...he's just trying to be in peace and everything in the world appears to be going against him...ahhh..this is some proper stuff right here...

To add insult to injury, it only took five minutes for the puddle to return. I’d barely returned from the basement with a suitably dust-free vase to take down to the river when that stupid plink, plunk, pallink chirruped from the floor. Sighing, I set the vase on the floor and went back down to search for a bucket or something to put under the leak. Ten minutes later, and none of the vessels I’d tried provided any relief from the annoyance. The only bucket that hadn’t been claimed by wood rot thumped like a muted drum, and the amphoras merely amplified the sound. I gave up and simply tossed the rag in the puddle.


Well giving up there is probably a good idea...I don't suppose he has access to anything that can properly cover up whatever is causing that leak...at least the cloth should dampen the sound somewhat.

Surprisingly, the cloth dulled the drops that it managed to catch. The puddle would soon grow too deep for the rag to sit on the floor and make the cloth float around, but for now, it was something. I collected the vase I was going to wash with and headed towards the forest. I was halfway down the hill when I realized that I’d temporally tracked the entire day. Not a single moment had slipped my attention.

My sense of time was coming back.


Ooohh..well that's a lovely almost cliffhanger like ending there....definitely a great line to end a chapter on...this is continuing to get more interesting by the minute now.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall...a lovely little cliffhanger here...well I ain't wasting time writing much more down here...I'm gonna head for that next chapter to find out what is happening to poor Charax here.

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

Stay Safe
Harry




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Sat Mar 06, 2021 7:59 pm
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Spearmint wrote a review...



Hello hello! Spearmint also here for a review! Like Plume said, your writing is super polished and it definitely keeps the reader's attention. :D And I'm really intrigued by what's going on with Charax as well... ;)

Okay, now for a couple of wording suggestions (all totally optional of course! ^-^)

I took a day and a half to reach the forest instead of the two I’d needed to get to the village, and another full day to traverse the woods.

When I read this sentence, the "another full day" sort of tripped me up. The first part of the sentence is showing how Charax was able to travel faster, but I feel like the "another full day" makes the journey seem longer, kind of contradicting the first part. (It might just be me though :p) Anyways, I think something like "...and only another day to traverse the woods" might be clearer?

My robes didn’t drag a single time throughout the journey, having decided they liked being the proper length too much to misbehave.

Haha I love the personification here! (And also how Charax is blaming his robes for changing their length, when in fact he's the one who's been causing them to drag all along :p)

I’d seen that image dozens of times. It was a winged gorgon. Or it had been. But now it looked like a pegasus, rearing wildly, its eyes flashing with demonic fire.

Oooh interesting~
This part reminds me of those two-way images (sorry I don't know the proper name for them XD) that can look like different things at the same time. I think the vase and the faces is a pretty famous example? Anyways I'm curious about the greater significance of this particular image... ;)

With the way the wings had been depicted, outstretched yet slightly curving inwards, it almost reminded me of...Malia.

Hmm this makes me wonder if Charax is seeing the winged gorgon because he's often thinking about Malia? Like perhaps the image is actually a pegasus, but Charax has just been seeing it as a gorgon or something? Just some of my thoughts :p

I stared at the pillars, but they were still the cracked, moss-speckled marble they’d always been. The floor was still a dank, uneven mess. And my throne, bless it, was still the same old stone seat it’d been since the old god had built it.

Excellent description here! I also love how you managed to tie it in to the plot, with Charax wondering how else his eyes have been deceiving him ^_^
One question I have: who's the "old god" mentioned here? If it's Charax, shouldn't it be "I" instead? Or maybe it's a different god... 0.0 (if so, I'm super curious who it could be! c:)

Life was full of sighs and surprises, and I’d had too much of both in too short a time span.

Ah yes, that is so true-- and the "sighs and surprises" alliteration is great too!! XD (Seriously, I love this quote! Would you mind if I posted it on my wall? (with credit of course <33))

To add insult to injury, it only took five minutes for the puddle to return.

Ohh that must be so annoying, poor Charax. That puddle is as immortal as he is :p

I’d barely returned from the basement with a suitably dust-free vase to take down to the river when that stupid plink, plunk, pallink chirruped from the floor. Sighing, I set the vase on the floor and went back down to search for a bucket or something...

Sorry, this is pretty nitpicky, but "the floor" is repeated and I feel like some of the wording here doesn't flow quite right? Here's how I might rewrite this:
"I'd barely returned from the basement with a suitably dust-free vase to take to the river when that stupid plink, plunk, pallink chirruped from the floor. Sighing, I set down the vase and went back to the basement to search for a bucket or something..."
Of course, feel free not to take this suggestion! I think the chapter reads well as it is, and this is just me being a total perfectionist XD

My sense of time was coming back.

0.0 Ahhh I can't wait to find out what happens in the next chapter!! ^o^

As always, I really enjoyed reading this and I hope you keep writing! :D




dragonfphoenix says...


The images you're thinking of are optical illusions known as "ambiguous bi-stable two-dimensional forms. But optical illusion is the common term. And Charax mistaking the Pegasus for Malia is a combination of his deterioration and his thoughts.

Something I'll try to make clearer in revision (it may come up later in the story but it hasn't yet so far), is that the temple is kind of an elephant graveyard for gods. Ie, that's the place where gods go to retire and fade away. The old god was the one who originally built the temple.

Sure! Quote away.

Thanks for the word suggestions. I'll give everything a polish once the story is finished



Spearmint says...


Ohh that's right, optical illusions! :p And hmm, it appears that Charax is deteriorating no longer... ;)

Also thanks, I'll tag you in the quote! c:



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Sat Mar 06, 2021 5:38 pm
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Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

Oooh, what an interesting development! You're really building up what's going on with Charax in this, and I love it!!

One thing you did really well with this was (forgive me for sounding repetitive) your writing voice. There's just something about it that's so engaging, and I think it especially comes out when it's mostly thoughts from Charax and his thoughts. Dialogue in and of itself is a pretty grabby type of text, but to have your narration be as enthralling (if not more) is a really stupendous achievement. I just love the way you write, plain and simple. Sorry for geeking out, but it's just really great. It's so professional and polished and fits your character exactly, and YOU SHOULD BE PROUD!

I also see what you said about the "something" that's happening to Charax. That last sentence in this section is especially poignant, I think. It's something that really makes the reader wonder what the implications of that is. Is Charax becoming a more powerful god? Is he being reborn? Is this his last hurrah before he dies/becomes a human? It prompts a lot of speculation, which is great. I know I can't wait to read the next part!

Specifics

If anything I should’ve been pushing close to five days to get back home, such was my deteriorated state.

I frowned. I didn’t feel decrepit—if anything I felt more alive than I’d been when Malia had left Hasda on my doorstep.


You should put a comma after "If anything." Also, you use the phrase twice in pretty close proximity to one another, and I feel like that should be fixed. It sounded a little redundant and repetitive to me.

Other than that, I couldn't really find much wrong with this piece! I thought it was a superb continuation of the story you've been writing, and I'm on the edge for what comes next!!




dragonfphoenix says...


Thanks! I'm really satisfied with how the various character voices have turned out. It's made writing the story really enjoyable.

More information about Charax and what's happening shall be forthcoming ;)




It's easier to come up with new stories than it is to finish the ones you already have. I think every author would feel that way.
— Stephanie Meyer