Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Novel / Chapter » Fantasy

16+ Language

The Many Gifts of Malia--Part 84: "The Split"

by dragonfphoenix


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

Malia gave me a sly smile as she slipped off my arm.

I scowled as her wings went with her, which left the rain to patter against my forehead. “No.”

“No what?” She tried her innocent voice, but I saw right through it.

I pointed at Thane and Azoria, who were well out of earshot. “I am not taking his Office back.”

“Why not?” Malia crossed her arms. “He’s in no fighting shape, and you can make better use of that power than he can. With the Sea Mother coming who knows when, you should take advantage of what time we have to acclimate yourself–”

“I said no.” Fool woman. This was hardly the place for such a transfer, even if both Seppo and Kydon were here to officiate it. Taking on that kind of mantle would send ripples through the countryside, not exactly the type of announcement I wanted to make with the Paedens on our doorstep.

“So you don’t like your surprise.”

“I would hardly call it surprising, given your track record.”

By this point, Seppo had noticed our little…disagreement, although he made no move to slow his advance. Thane and Azoria were absorbed in conversation, my former apprentice looking rather hale despite the bags under his eyes and bruises that hadn’t yet started fading.

“Thane has already rescinded the Office.” Malia’s eyes glimmered with steel as she met my confused look. “Whether or not you accept it, he’s no longer the God of Death.”

I raised my eyebrows at her. “And you’re prepared to take the Scythe when I don’t?”

“Don’t be such a stubborn ass,” she snapped. “You were carrying on about how we need to take our time and heal before exerting ourselves too much, and as soon as we do, you dig your heels in when it comes to sharing the load. I’d thought this was a forgone conclusion, since you stuck your neck out for Thane remaining Seated once he’d abdicated. And don’t even try pretending you haven’t already been ferrying souls to Peklo: I saw where you put the Apkalla.”

I frowned. “When did you go to Peklo?”

“When haven’t I?” Her eyes flashed. “The point is, times change, and with them the Offices. You don’t have to bear the full weight of the God of Death if you’re not ready.”

Malia looked far too pleased with herself.

“So, what? We Co-Seat that as well?” I shook my head. “The pantheon is already divided enough as it is about our first cooperative division.”

“Our Offices are already split along our personality lines.” I’m sure her smile was supposed to be thoughtful, but it just came across as hungry. “The coarse and the fine. You, the Bludgeon of War, squashing our enemies underfoot with no regard for the particulars. And I, the elegant counterweight to your broader measures.”

“You mean, I’m the tool, and you the mind that wields it.”

She swatted my arm. “Don’t be daft. Just because I’ve focused on subterfuge doesn’t mean you lack all sense of strategy.”

“Does Seppo–of course he knows.” I sighed.

“You’d be full-Seated again, this way.” Malia surged next to me, her face eager. “My Charax, returned to his former glory.”

I poked her nose. “Are you sure you’re willing to bind yourself so tightly to us? Assuming this even works, it won’t be you getting the best of both worlds, being Goddess of War and Death. You’ll have to abide by the divisions you’ve chosen. And it’ll make us an associated pair of deities.”

She laughed. “More than we already are?”

I couldn’t help my frown. She didn’t seem to be taking this as seriously as she should. By taking aspects of both Offices and recombining them, we would become linked in the mythology of Carthia. It wouldn’t be the same union as those Ibithian witches went through, actually transforming into a united entity, but it would inseparably link us. Like the opposite faces of a coin, which couldn’t be divorced without destroying the whole. With a free spirit like Malia, I wasn’t sure she could handle such a leash.

Smiling, she stretched up and kissed my chin. “You’re adorable.”

“What?”

“I can see it in your eyes.” Purring, she settled against me as the tribesmen neared, a spear’s throw away. “You’re only thinking about how this will affect me, and not about yourself at all.”

I scowled. “Of course I am. I don’t mind being closer with you, and I’d have never woven my soul with yours if I did. But you’d raze Nebesa at the thought of having your wings clipped.”

“And I wouldn’t have brought it up if I weren’t okay with it.” Her wings were soft against my arm. “It’s not as restricting as you think. You might have to handle some of my broader plans, but I’ll gain greater precision.”

I hugged her close. “I don’t know what you’re planning, but the fact that you’re willing to reveal–and share–some of them is kind of terrifying.”

“That’s why you love me.” Her fangs peeked through as she smiled up at me.

Grunting, I kissed her forehead. “Among other reasons.”

“I can see we’re interrupting, so if you’d like we can come back another time.” Seppo thumped up in a huff, although his face spoke more to exhaustion than exasperation. Despite his exoskeleton, he was sweating profusely, cheeks puffing with each breath.

“Was the journey that eventful?” Malia twisted against me, pulling my arm close as she folded her wings against me.

“That blasted forest is riddled with hills. Up and down, up and down.” His encased hands clanged against the pistons above his thighs. “I am grateful this is the final ascent.”

Climbing up behind him, Thane and Azoria gasped out greetings as they reached level ground. The tribesmen pulled up short, wary of cresting the rise. On cue, the Carthians marched forward, raising their fists in salute. Kydon had been nice enough to drag Hasda away while Malia and I…conversed, and he led the lad ahead of the soldiers as he came to welcome our head. Seppo began unloading complaints about the trip as the warriors mingled.

“So he agreed?” Azoria dipped her head in my direction.

“‘He’ is here and fully aware, and yes, I did” I said.

“Praise be.” Thane sagged forward, leaning on the Scythe as he summoned it. “This thing is immensely heavier when it’s not your symbol anymore.”

Azoria helped him to stand. “You bore its weight well.”

“Long enough.” He smiled at her as he straightened. His face was pale and strained, giving away his charade of full recovery. After the transfer of Office, I’d send him back to Nebesa myself, if Azoria didn’t beat me to it.

Seppo and Kydon plodded over to join our informal circle.

“Are we ready to begin?” Folding his arm, Seppo swept his gaze from Thane to Malia to me as he settled into his place. “It’ll be good to have you back at full strength, old friend.”

“Casting stones in a pottery shop, Seppo.” I grunted. “Are you sure the pantheon is ready for this change, though? It’s a rather dramatic shift.”

He waved the comment away. “You two have volleyed the Office back and forth enough it only makes sense that, with both of you active again, you would share the responsibilities.”

Kydon nodded in agreement.

Malia nudged me, her face eager. “Enough stalling.”

Muttering, I let my arms hang loose and readied myself for the mantle of Death.

Kydon let his arms fall as well, his face going slack as his eyes rolled back. His voice deepened, like the soothing rumble of the ocean depths. The language he intoned was archaic, the predecessor of modern Carthian, and the specific words he uttered mattered less than the ancient vows he invoked.

Shepherds of souls, guiding them to and through the underworld. The fruit of fallen mortals gathered in our loving hands and scattered across the earth, to seed the harvest of the next generation. Whether sickness or happenstance ushered a Carthian into death, we would be there to claim and care for our own. The task was taxing, but this time, I wouldn’t bear the weight alone.

Separating from me, Malia smiled as Thane brought the Scythe forward. “And now for the real surprise.”

I rolled my eyes. “No inauguration involving you could go without one.”

She gave me the most self-satisfied smirk as she reached for the Scythe. Before her hands clutched the wood, however, the weapon trembled and then promptly shattered. Light burst from the scattered fragments of its shaft, wispy trails circling Malia’s wrists. A thicker beam sped from the blade towards me, curving sharply into the ground before it would have collided with me. A sharp, brassy sound, like a struck gong, reverberated through the air.

As the tone dissipated, the light receded, coalescing in our palms. The light in my hands resolved into the long, thin haft of a reaper’s hook, the razor-like sickle curving away from my feet. Malia clasped a pair of kama, hand sickles with their blades embedded at right angles at the heads of their handles. As the Office of Death had been split between us, so too its Symbol. Mine remained closest to its original form, perfect for culling large quantities of souls. Malia’s, however, seemed better suited to the singular collecting she planned to employ.

Her face was alight with triumph. “Hail to the Furies of War and Death.”

“May our enemies fear our names forever.” I couldn’t keep from grinning. Not that I wanted to, though. With the familiar weight of my Scythe–now Sickle–in hand, I had to admit: it felt good to be back.


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
3416 Reviews


Points: 363116
Reviews: 3416

Donate
Sun Aug 21, 2022 3:30 am
View Likes
HarryHardy wrote a review...



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

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

First Impression: OKay...well this chapter was quite something here. I was not expecting pretty much any of what just went down to actually go down, and well it certainly is quite a pleasant surprise here. I can't wait to see how this impacts things to come.

Anyway let's get right to it,

Malia gave me a sly smile as she slipped off my arm.

I scowled as her wings went with her, which left the rain to patter against my forehead. “No.”

“No what?” She tried her innocent voice, but I saw right through it.

I pointed at Thane and Azoria, who were well out of earshot. “I am not taking his Office back.”

“Why not?” Malia crossed her arms. “He’s in no fighting shape, and you can make better use of that power than he can. With the Sea Mother coming who knows when, you should take advantage of what time we have to acclimate yourself–”

“I said no.” Fool woman. This was hardly the place for such a transfer, even if both Seppo and Kydon were here to officiate it. Taking on that kind of mantle would send ripples through the countryside, not exactly the type of announcement I wanted to make with the Paedens on our doorstep.

“So you don’t like your surprise.”

“I would hardly call it surprising, given your track record.”


Hmm...I have to say though, this one did still catch me by surprise even given Malia's track record. I just was not expecting this to go down at this moment of all points. Somehow I went through all the crazy possibilities of Thane and Azoria arriving except for this one.

By this point, Seppo had noticed our little…disagreement, although he made no move to slow his advance. Thane and Azoria were absorbed in conversation, my former apprentice looking rather hale despite the bags under his eyes and bruises that hadn’t yet started fading.

“Thane has already rescinded the Office.” Malia’s eyes glimmered with steel as she met my confused look. “Whether or not you accept it, he’s no longer the God of Death.”

I raised my eyebrows at her. “And you’re prepared to take the Scythe when I don’t?”

“Don’t be such a stubborn ass,” she snapped. “You were carrying on about how we need to take our time and heal before exerting ourselves too much, and as soon as we do, you dig your heels in when it comes to sharing the load. I’d thought this was a forgone conclusion, since you stuck your neck out for Thane remaining Seated once he’d abdicated. And don’t even try pretending you haven’t already been ferrying souls to Peklo: I saw where you put the Apkalla.”

I frowned. “When did you go to Peklo?”


Well that is definitely a question I would like to have answered. Wow, Malia despite everything she's been involved in has somehow managed to really set this whole thing up behind the scenes so that Charax really doesn't have too much of a choice there besides saying yes or looking a bit foolish here.

“When haven’t I?” Her eyes flashed. “The point is, times change, and with them the Offices. You don’t have to bear the full weight of the God of Death if you’re not ready.”

Malia looked far too pleased with herself.

“So, what? We Co-Seat that as well?” I shook my head. “The pantheon is already divided enough as it is about our first cooperative division.”

“Our Offices are already split along our personality lines.” I’m sure her smile was supposed to be thoughtful, but it just came across as hungry. “The coarse and the fine. You, the Bludgeon of War, squashing our enemies underfoot with no regard for the particulars. And I, the elegant counterweight to your broader measures.”

“You mean, I’m the tool, and you the mind that wields it.”

She swatted my arm. “Don’t be daft. Just because I’ve focused on subterfuge doesn’t mean you lack all sense of strategy.”


Okay that line by Charax is just as hilarious as it is almost depressingly accurate. Well he has certainly been properly played and for the first time in some time for this story I have also been properly played as a reader so I love that. It seems our secret plans this time really were very secret.

“Does Seppo–of course he knows.” I sighed.

“You’d be full-Seated again, this way.” Malia surged next to me, her face eager. “My Charax, returned to his former glory.”

I poked her nose. “Are you sure you’re willing to bind yourself so tightly to us? Assuming this even works, it won’t be you getting the best of both worlds, being Goddess of War and Death. You’ll have to abide by the divisions you’ve chosen. And it’ll make us an associated pair of deities.”

She laughed. “More than we already are?”

I couldn’t help my frown. She didn’t seem to be taking this as seriously as she should. By taking aspects of both Offices and recombining them, we would become linked in the mythology of Carthia. It wouldn’t be the same union as those Ibithian witches went through, actually transforming into a united entity, but it would inseparably link us. Like the opposite faces of a coin, which couldn’t be divorced without destroying the whole. With a free spirit like Malia, I wasn’t sure she could handle such a leash.

Smiling, she stretched up and kissed my chin. “You’re adorable.”


OKay...I have to say at that point you were the one being adorable Malia, but also...well for starters it looks like we have a massive life decision being made right here with what Malia has planned out for these two and judging by her reaction there she has probably thought of exactly that situation and come up with something to negate that.

“What?”

“I can see it in your eyes.” Purring, she settled against me as the tribesmen neared, a spear’s throw away. “You’re only thinking about how this will affect me, and not about yourself at all.”

I scowled. “Of course I am. I don’t mind being closer with you, and I’d have never woven my soul with yours if I did. But you’d raze Nebesa at the thought of having your wings clipped.”

“And I wouldn’t have brought it up if I weren’t okay with it.” Her wings were soft against my arm. “It’s not as restricting as you think. You might have to handle some of my broader plans, but I’ll gain greater precision.”

I hugged her close. “I don’t know what you’re planning, but the fact that you’re willing to reveal–and share–some of them is kind of terrifying.”

“That’s why you love me.” Her fangs peeked through as she smiled up at me.

Grunting, I kissed her forehead. “Among other reasons.”


Okay, that takes the price for adorableness, and it just seems to have a lot more weight too because of the whole idea that's attached to this particular moment of adorableness. This time the moment just has so much more weight behind it and as much as Malia talked it down a bit there, it really seems like it will be quite a step.

“I can see we’re interrupting, so if you’d like we can come back another time.” Seppo thumped up in a huff, although his face spoke more to exhaustion than exasperation. Despite his exoskeleton, he was sweating profusely, cheeks puffing with each breath.

“Was the journey that eventful?” Malia twisted against me, pulling my arm close as she folded her wings against me.

“That blasted forest is riddled with hills. Up and down, up and down.” His encased hands clanged against the pistons above his thighs. “I am grateful this is the final ascent.”

Climbing up behind him, Thane and Azoria gasped out greetings as they reached level ground. The tribesmen pulled up short, wary of cresting the rise. On cue, the Carthians marched forward, raising their fists in salute. Kydon had been nice enough to drag Hasda away while Malia and I…conversed, and he led the lad ahead of the soldiers as he came to welcome our head. Seppo began unloading complaints about the trip as the warriors mingled.


Ahh there's a lovely little callback to Seppo's uncomfortableness around this level of adorableness. This is a lovely little introduction this group. Its got the right of humor based on this trip situation and just a little bit of the graveness of everyone being here for this war situation.

“So he agreed?” Azoria dipped her head in my direction.

“‘He’ is here and fully aware, and yes, I did” I said.

“Praise be.” Thane sagged forward, leaning on the Scythe as he summoned it. “This thing is immensely heavier when it’s not your symbol anymore.”

Azoria helped him to stand. “You bore its weight well.”

“Long enough.” He smiled at her as he straightened. His face was pale and strained, giving away his charade of full recovery. After the transfer of Office, I’d send him back to Nebesa myself, if Azoria didn’t beat me to it.

Seppo and Kydon plodded over to join our informal circle.

“Are we ready to begin?” Folding his arm, Seppo swept his gaze from Thane to Malia to me as he settled into his place. “It’ll be good to have you back at full strength, old friend.”

“Casting stones in a pottery shop, Seppo.” I grunted. “Are you sure the pantheon is ready for this change, though? It’s a rather dramatic shift.”


Well...there really was no way for Charax to say anything but yes there. It was pretty much set in stone right from the very beginning. Well, on the bright side I suppose at least it means Charax and Malia might become a tad more powerful and able to fight this war here a little bit better.

He waved the comment away. “You two have volleyed the Office back and forth enough it only makes sense that, with both of you active again, you would share the responsibilities.”

Kydon nodded in agreement.

Malia nudged me, her face eager. “Enough stalling.”

Muttering, I let my arms hang loose and readied myself for the mantle of Death.

Kydon let his arms fall as well, his face going slack as his eyes rolled back. His voice deepened, like the soothing rumble of the ocean depths. The language he intoned was archaic, the predecessor of modern Carthian, and the specific words he uttered mattered less than the ancient vows he invoked.

Shepherds of souls, guiding them to and through the underworld. The fruit of fallen mortals gathered in our loving hands and scattered across the earth, to seed the harvest of the next generation. Whether sickness or happenstance ushered a Carthian into death, we would be there to claim and care for our own. The task was taxing, but this time, I wouldn’t bear the weight alone.

Separating from me, Malia smiled as Thane brought the Scythe forward. “And now for the real surprise.”


Oh dear...I mean this surprise is probably going to involve somehow splitting this symbol of office because of course the chapter title must serve its purpose, but well, there is still that slight bit of trepidation you get when right after a grand speech like that Malia just proclaims that she has a big surprise.

I rolled my eyes. “No inauguration involving you could go without one.”

She gave me the most self-satisfied smirk as she reached for the Scythe. Before her hands clutched the wood, however, the weapon trembled and then promptly shattered. Light burst from the scattered fragments of its shaft, wispy trails circling Malia’s wrists. A thicker beam sped from the blade towards me, curving sharply into the ground before it would have collided with me. A sharp, brassy sound, like a struck gong, reverberated through the air.

As the tone dissipated, the light receded, coalescing in our palms. The light in my hands resolved into the long, thin haft of a reaper’s hook, the razor-like sickle curving away from my feet. Malia clasped a pair of kama, hand sickles with their blades embedded at right angles at the heads of their handles. As the Office of Death had been split between us, so too its Symbol. Mine remained closest to its original form, perfect for culling large quantities of souls. Malia’s, however, seemed better suited to the singular collecting she planned to employ.

Her face was alight with triumph. “Hail to the Furies of War and Death.”

“May our enemies fear our names forever.” I couldn’t keep from grinning. Not that I wanted to, though. With the familiar weight of my Scythe–now Sickle–in hand, I had to admit: it felt good to be back.


Well...that...that is going to have a very interesting impact on how this pans out. There is certainly no doubt about that. I was definitely not expecting this to be how this ended and given the kind of title for the next chapter this is perhaps one of the most mysterious endings to a chapter we've had cause the possibilities to come are so high.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, another very interesting addition to this little...well definitely not little...world. This new development as much as it is a bit scary, does give me some hope somehow here.

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

Stay Safe
Harry




User avatar
585 Reviews


Points: 64550
Reviews: 585

Donate
Thu Jun 09, 2022 3:05 am
Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review! (Sorry if this review is formatted oddly or is a bit shorter than others; I’m writing it on my phone because I don’t have access to my computer.)

Well, I guess there was a good reason why Seppo didn’t let Charax know that Thane and Azoria were coming! I have to say, that though didn’t occur to me as I read the last chapter, even though Thane had been making references to it quite a bit throughout. I might have interpreted it differently if I’d read those chapters more recently though, or read the story in full as opposed to serialized. The surprise was delightful, though, and the chapter that followed was also amazing.

Once again, I love how you’ve shown us a bit of world building as it’s pertinent to the plot. The transfer of power was quite interesting, along with seeing the office split between Malia and Charax. It seems like the split in weapon/godly symbol was both a product of the post and maybe a bit of intention on Malia’s side as well. I also love the fact that they’re becoming more and more connected—they really are in it for the long run, aren’t they. Curious if that’ll have any future consequences! It was nice to get that little moment between them when Charax was worried about what being tied down would do to her. It made me smile.

I also hope Thane gets better. I like the development he’s had over the course of the story (At first, I couldn’t stand the dude, and now I’m wishing for his recovery), and I do hope this isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of him and Azoria.

Specifics

Taking on that kind of mantle would send ripples through the countryside, not exactly the type of announcement I wanted to make with the Paedens on our doorstep.


To me, this sentence flowed a little oddly; I’d either make it two separate sentences where the comma is, or add “which was” after the comma. It just felt like something was missing from the sentence, even if it is grammatically correct.

Overall:nice work! It’s great to see Charax kind of come into his own alongside Malia— curious if their new and strengthened bond will have any negative repercussions, as the stakes get even higher. Looking forward to the next chapter! Until next time!





As a former (and rather excellent) liar herself, Aru knew that, sometimes, speaking the truth felt like wrenching a thorn out of your side. But doing the opposite meant pretending it wasn't there. And that made every single step ache. It was no way to live.
— Roshani Chokshi, Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality