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The Many Gifts of Malia--Part 98: "The Snap"

by dragonfphoenix


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

Jade stood at the top of the pass, shaking. “She’s here!” Hands over her ears, her eyes were wide, her face contorted in pain. “Don’t let her—no!—here! Go away!” She screamed and collapsed on the ground, grinding her palms like she wanted to crush her ears into her skull. Her panicked eyes darted around, not registering any of us.

“Is it Tamiyat? I’ll fight.” Hasda’s face was as white as his knuckles. It was a wonder he hadn’t bent the hilt of his sword with that death grip. “Let me help her.”

I shook my head. “No.”

“But—”

I shoved him into Malia’s arms. “Keep him here, and safe.”

She looked confused but wrapped her arms more tightly around him.

“No!” Hasda’s face fell. “I want to help. Please.” He struggled against Malia’s hug.

I shrugged off the mounting tension and reached for my astral form. Meeting Malia’s eyes, I said, “Don’t follow me.”

“You old idiot.” Her mouth fell open. “If anyone should be going, it’s me. I’m nearly a Titan myself.”

She sounded almost guilty admitting it. Huffing a laugh, I rolled my shoulders and cracked my neck. “I’ll be quick.” And with that, I placed my bony hand on Jade’s forehead and tipped backwards.

A nest of thick purple tentacles buried the faint point that was Jade’s astral projection. It was little more than a milky-green pearl, since the lamia was nowhere near crafting herself a higher body, but Tamiyat bombarded it with her corrupting influence nonetheless. The Sea Mother’s words thundered across the astral plane, commanding Jade open herself and submit to the elder goddess’ will.

Since I’d transitioned while physically in contact with Jade, I ended up in the middle of the heavy bundle. The living rope pressed against me, pinning my arms to my sides and threatening to snap my legs. No matter how I twisted, I couldn’t find purchase on their slimy surface, and the harder I struggled, the more infuriated I became.

We’d already beaten off two invasions into Tingid, and the Paedens had yet to learn. Jade was ours, and nobody was going to take her from us. Not the Paedens, not Marudak, and especially not Tamiyat—who’d had the gall to hurt Malia. I suspected she’d been behind the Sisters in Ibithia, too, but even if she wasn’t, well, what did it matter? She wouldn’t even bat an eye smearing Hasda across the earth, given half a chance.

This was my home. These were my people. And she could piss off.

Without really thinking about it, I bit the nearest thread. Instantly the pressure withdrew, the ropes retracting, a strange pink powder hissing from where I’d bit them. They curled behind the heart-achingly beautiful woman form of Tamiyat, who stood galaxies tall off in the distance.

“What an insolent child.” Disgust and disappointment filled the void, her voice collapsing on me with its weight. “I’d thought you more well-mannered than that.”

“Shut up, bitch.” My skeleton expanded as I poured power into it. Unlike the fleshed-out projection I’d tried to fuel on my last incursion into the higher plane, this was stable and solid as it grew. I’d never reach the heights an eldritch being could achieve, but I didn’t need to. My bones felt hard as crystals and durable as the purest celestial steel. I let the flow of battle wash over me, shushing the small voice that protested about revealing all my secrets as I gave in to the berserker state. I didn’t need my experience with Seppo’s mother to know I wasn’t beating Tamiyat today, but I could still drive her off.

She folded her arms and frowned as she watched my stature increase. “What a pleasant parlor trick. If only you’d shown me your potential before, I could have offered you so much better.”

My fingers folded around the cool, reassuring grip of my Sword as it slipped into my palm. I trusted my instincts to transition the weapon into the astral plane, and the spread of its weight felt properly proportioned. I grinned, exposing all my teeth. I could rot in Peklo, but this was going to be very, very satisfying.

“What are you doing?” Real consternation spilled across her face as her mask of confidence slipped.

Her head came off in one stroke. A clean cut, if I did say so myself. The pressure against my spirit lightened slightly, although the grit of the realm remained.

“Can’t infatuate the dead.” I knew my face was feral as I leered down at her head, her face frozen in shock. Her charms probably wouldn’t have swayed me even if I’d been in a more alive, human projection, but they’d done precious little against mere bones. This aspect probably didn’t have combat potential anyways, and simply severing its head wouldn’t have killed it. But it certainly made a statement.

A thoroughly enraged dragon crashed down on me. “HOW DARE YOU?”

“How dare you?” I flung her taloned feet away, propelled backwards from the force of the collision. Sword held at guard, I prepared for another attack or my own strike. “Jade is ours. Piss off.”

The dragon’s glowing eyes narrowed. “YOU WILL SUFFER.”

“Not as much as you.”

Her dragon breath came like a waterfall of stars. Blurs of orange, white, and red flecked the white-blue torrent that lanced towards me. As I pointed my Sword towards the stream, I willed it into my Spear. The weapon shifted, the point making the blast umbrella in front of me. Still, my arms nearly shattered as the full force impacted against the spearhead, and flecks of galactic dragonfire scored my bones. The pits and chunks weren’t enough to break my stance, but they did breach my pain receptors, dull thuds of warmth that stung briefly before being replaced by the chill of the void.

Setting my heels, I put my weight behind the Spear and thrust it into the stream. It lanced up the dragonbreath like a bolt of lightning, traveling so fast it caught even Tamiyat off guard. The spangled cascade cut off abruptly, the Sea Mother jerking back as the Spear sliced her cheek. And kept going, flying off into the void beyond. Wherever it had gone, it didn’t respond to my summons, leaving me with just my Sword.

My knees cracked and my ribs groaned. Loops of sea-green serpent coiled around me, crushing my bones. She hadn’t yet wound herself around my arms, small as I was compared to her, although she looked to simply squash me with her sheer bulk. One arm became entangled, but with my free hand I stabbed and hacked at the glittering scales. More than one blow bounced away harmlessly, like Hasda’s sticks against the forest trunks as he pretended to fell the trees. But one strike, against the grain, caught under the edge of a scale, and I turned my swordpoint against it again and again.

I never thought I’d see the day when my Sword snapped, but it did. Still I hammered against her hide, the jagged edge half the length of its former glory. It was a tool, and that was all I needed. Sparks flew like shooting stars as I struck her scales, but eventually something gave. One blow found the softer flesh, and the serpent shrieked as it contracted.

The cries nearly drowned out the horrible shattering sounds my bones made, and I could tell by the way my feet dangled in the starry abyss that I was going to need a long time to heal. My spirit was finally beginning to falter from sustaining the largest astral form I’d ever held on nothing but rage and sheer determination, and I’d only managed to land essentially a scratch. And only that because she’d held still and let me. I couldn’t tell which stars floating in my vision were real ones, which meant I didn’t have much time left in this fight.

But Tamiyat retreated to the furthest edge of my vision, lengths coiling together as she withdrew. Her headless human form walked along the ridges of the serpent, dragging a dragon wing behind. A taloned limb passed through her as the dragon pawed the air. My head thundered with the effort of containing the vision of her disparate forms.

Two massive eyes opened before me. The galaxies in their irises swirled as they focused on me. CREDIT WHERE IT IS DUE, CHILD. YOUR SPIRIT IS ADMIRABLE. The eyes narrowed. AND WASTED, IN YOUR CURRENT STATE. TO ENDURE MY FORMS IN TURN, AS YOU DID... Waves shimmered through the fabric of reality, as if the eyes shook an invisible head. RIVALED ONLY BY YOUR MATE. I WOULD BE PROUD TO HAVE YOU BOTH AS MY ALLIES.

“Eat shit, fishface.” My teeth chattered as I said it, but that didn’t diminish my loopy, overconfident grin.

The eyes faded. IN TIME, YOU WILL TURN. THEY ALWAYS DO.

A sudden pressure pushed me against the film that bounded the astral plane from reality. With a shuddering tear that broke more bones than I had the strength to count, Tamiyat forcibly transitioned me back to the mountainside. And she was kind enough to open the rent several feet above the ground.

“We’ve got a problem.” Warbow out, Malia had her back to me as she scanned the mountainside. “Jade isn’t respond—holy shit.”

My landing was a lot less graceful than I wished. Without my legs, it was more of a conscious fall—I couldn’t even convince myself of the lie that it was even partially controlled—and whatever witty remark I’d thought up flitted away as I passed out. I had just enough energy left to process that Hasda wasn’t in my field of vision before I collapsed. 


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Tue Sep 06, 2022 2:27 am
KateHardy wrote a review...



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

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

First Impression: Okayy...well this chapter went pretty much as expected there. Not exactly the most surprises coming through on that one. At the very least it seems Charax managed to somewhat impress Tamiyat so there's something.

Anyway let's get right to it,

Jade stood at the top of the pass, shaking. “She’s here!” Hands over her ears, her eyes were wide, her face contorted in pain. “Don’t let her—no!—here! Go away!” She screamed and collapsed on the ground, grinding her palms like she wanted to crush her ears into her skull. Her panicked eyes darted around, not registering any of us.

“Is it Tamiyat? I’ll fight.” Hasda’s face was as white as his knuckles. It was a wonder he hadn’t bent the hilt of his sword with that death grip. “Let me help her.”

I shook my head. “No.”

“But—”


Oh kay wow that got a lot more dangerous than I thought it would be for poor Jade, but welll let's see how this goes. The name of this chapter does not inspire confidence in the slightest right now and I am quite worried about where this might be headed here.

I shoved him into Malia’s arms. “Keep him here, and safe.”

She looked confused but wrapped her arms more tightly around him.

“No!” Hasda’s face fell. “I want to help. Please.” He struggled against Malia’s hug.

I shrugged off the mounting tension and reached for my astral form. Meeting Malia’s eyes, I said, “Don’t follow me.”

“You old idiot.” Her mouth fell open. “If anyone should be going, it’s me. I’m nearly a Titan myself.”

She sounded almost guilty admitting it. Huffing a laugh, I rolled my shoulders and cracked my neck. “I’ll be quick.” And with that, I placed my bony hand on Jade’s forehead and tipped backwards.


Well...there's a plan that couldn't possibly go wrong with Hasda and Malia...I really do hope that Malia manages to actually follow through on that. I don't think she'd be crazy enough to try and break that rule, but then she's Malia.

A nest of thick purple tentacles buried the faint point that was Jade’s astral projection. It was little more than a milky-green pearl, since the lamia was nowhere near crafting herself a higher body, but Tamiyat bombarded it with her corrupting influence nonetheless. The Sea Mother’s words thundered across the astral plane, commanding Jade open herself and submit to the elder goddess’ will.

Since I’d transitioned while physically in contact with Jade, I ended up in the middle of the heavy bundle. The living rope pressed against me, pinning my arms to my sides and threatening to snap my legs. No matter how I twisted, I couldn’t find purchase on their slimy surface, and the harder I struggled, the more infuriated I became.

We’d already beaten off two invasions into Tingid, and the Paedens had yet to learn. Jade was ours, and nobody was going to take her from us. Not the Paedens, not Marudak, and especially not Tamiyat—who’d had the gall to hurt Malia. I suspected she’d been behind the Sisters in Ibithia, too, but even if she wasn’t, well, what did it matter? She wouldn’t even bat an eye smearing Hasda across the earth, given half a chance.

This was my home. These were my people. And she could piss off.


Okay...Charax, that's a good little rallying cry there. I love how all of this is always implied so when we get to see this all at once in this little moment where Charax is gathering courage none of it feels remotely forced, it just seems like exactly what he'd say in a moment like this one.

Without really thinking about it, I bit the nearest thread. Instantly the pressure withdrew, the ropes retracting, a strange pink powder hissing from where I’d bit them. They curled behind the heart-achingly beautiful woman form of Tamiyat, who stood galaxies tall off in the distance.

“What an insolent child.” Disgust and disappointment filled the void, her voice collapsing on me with its weight. “I’d thought you more well-mannered than that.”

“Shut up, bitch.” My skeleton expanded as I poured power into it. Unlike the fleshed-out projection I’d tried to fuel on my last incursion into the higher plane, this was stable and solid as it grew. I’d never reach the heights an eldritch being could achieve, but I didn’t need to. My bones felt hard as crystals and durable as the purest celestial steel. I let the flow of battle wash over me, shushing the small voice that protested about revealing all my secrets as I gave in to the berserker state. I didn’t need my experience with Seppo’s mother to know I wasn’t beating Tamiyat today, but I could still drive her off.

She folded her arms and frowned as she watched my stature increase. “What a pleasant parlor trick. If only you’d shown me your potential before, I could have offered you so much better.”


Oooh we haven't scene Charax use this before I think, I love to see it. It seems we're going to finally get ourselves a nice solid fight here. I also do love how very aware Charax is that this form changes very little and that he's actually still not as powerful. It nicely subverts that trope where the hero just has this massive power hidden all along and then immediately dominates a battle.

My fingers folded around the cool, reassuring grip of my Sword as it slipped into my palm. I trusted my instincts to transition the weapon into the astral plane, and the spread of its weight felt properly proportioned. I grinned, exposing all my teeth. I could rot in Peklo, but this was going to be very, very satisfying.

“What are you doing?” Real consternation spilled across her face as her mask of confidence slipped.

Her head came off in one stroke. A clean cut, if I did say so myself. The pressure against my spirit lightened slightly, although the grit of the realm remained.

“Can’t infatuate the dead.” I knew my face was feral as I leered down at her head, her face frozen in shock. Her charms probably wouldn’t have swayed me even if I’d been in a more alive, human projection, but they’d done precious little against mere bones. This aspect probably didn’t have combat potential anyways, and simply severing its head wouldn’t have killed it. But it certainly made a statement.

A thoroughly enraged dragon crashed down on me. “HOW DARE YOU?”


Well...I will say one thing about Charax's skillset. He can absolutely piss anyone off without even trying. He's a full on natural at that particular skill. Well, this is about to make things very interesting. Let's see how this fight pans out. The fact that Charax was talking about the underworld is not the most hopeful of news, but we shall see.

“How dare you?” I flung her taloned feet away, propelled backwards from the force of the collision. Sword held at guard, I prepared for another attack or my own strike. “Jade is ours. Piss off.”

The dragon’s glowing eyes narrowed. “YOU WILL SUFFER.”

“Not as much as you.”

Her dragon breath came like a waterfall of stars. Blurs of orange, white, and red flecked the white-blue torrent that lanced towards me. As I pointed my Sword towards the stream, I willed it into my Spear. The weapon shifted, the point making the blast umbrella in front of me. Still, my arms nearly shattered as the full force impacted against the spearhead, and flecks of galactic dragonfire scored my bones. The pits and chunks weren’t enough to break my stance, but they did breach my pain receptors, dull thuds of warmth that stung briefly before being replaced by the chill of the void.


Well...that could have gone significantly worse, at least Charax is not about to be annihilated or thrown off balance in the first attack itself. Let's see what ends up happening next here. I have no doubt Charax will probably lose this fight eventually but perhaps he can hold out for long enough to do something.

Setting my heels, I put my weight behind the Spear and thrust it into the stream. It lanced up the dragonbreath like a bolt of lightning, traveling so fast it caught even Tamiyat off guard. The spangled cascade cut off abruptly, the Sea Mother jerking back as the Spear sliced her cheek. And kept going, flying off into the void beyond. Wherever it had gone, it didn’t respond to my summons, leaving me with just my Sword.

My knees cracked and my ribs groaned. Loops of sea-green serpent coiled around me, crushing my bones. She hadn’t yet wound herself around my arms, small as I was compared to her, although she looked to simply squash me with her sheer bulk. One arm became entangled, but with my free hand I stabbed and hacked at the glittering scales. More than one blow bounced away harmlessly, like Hasda’s sticks against the forest trunks as he pretended to fell the trees. But one strike, against the grain, caught under the edge of a scale, and I turned my swordpoint against it again and again.

I never thought I’d see the day when my Sword snapped, but it did. Still I hammered against her hide, the jagged edge half the length of its former glory. It was a tool, and that was all I needed. Sparks flew like shooting stars as I struck her scales, but eventually something gave. One blow found the softer flesh, and the serpent shrieked as it contracted.


Okay...I don't think that this sword breaking is going to be as nonchalant as Charax makes it, especially if he survive long enough to get a moment to really reflect on what just happened there, but nonetheless its a powerful image here of just how strong Tamiyat is. And it seems for a moment maybe Charax just made some sort of headway.

The cries nearly drowned out the horrible shattering sounds my bones made, and I could tell by the way my feet dangled in the starry abyss that I was going to need a long time to heal. My spirit was finally beginning to falter from sustaining the largest astral form I’d ever held on nothing but rage and sheer determination, and I’d only managed to land essentially a scratch. And only that because she’d held still and let me. I couldn’t tell which stars floating in my vision were real ones, which meant I didn’t have much time left in this fight.

But Tamiyat retreated to the furthest edge of my vision, lengths coiling together as she withdrew. Her headless human form walked along the ridges of the serpent, dragging a dragon wing behind. A taloned limb passed through her as the dragon pawed the air. My head thundered with the effort of containing the vision of her disparate forms.

Two massive eyes opened before me. The galaxies in their irises swirled as they focused on me. CREDIT WHERE IT IS DUE, CHILD. YOUR SPIRIT IS ADMIRABLE. The eyes narrowed. AND WASTED, IN YOUR CURRENT STATE. TO ENDURE MY FORMS IN TURN, AS YOU DID... Waves shimmered through the fabric of reality, as if the eyes shook an invisible head. RIVALED ONLY BY YOUR MATE. I WOULD BE PROUD TO HAVE YOU BOTH AS MY ALLIES.


Well I suppose at the very least Charax got Tamiyat's attention properly even if it means he's just gone and expended pretty much his entire wealth of power only to be swatted aside after having done barely any damage. You've gotta take the small victories as they come when its a situation as bad as this one.

“Eat shit, fishface.” My teeth chattered as I said it, but that didn’t diminish my loopy, overconfident grin.

The eyes faded. IN TIME, YOU WILL TURN. THEY ALWAYS DO.

A sudden pressure pushed me against the film that bounded the astral plane from reality. With a shuddering tear that broke more bones than I had the strength to count, Tamiyat forcibly transitioned me back to the mountainside. And she was kind enough to open the rent several feet above the ground.

“We’ve got a problem.” Warbow out, Malia had her back to me as she scanned the mountainside. “Jade isn’t respond—holy shit.”

My landing was a lot less graceful than I wished. Without my legs, it was more of a conscious fall—I couldn’t even convince myself of the lie that it was even partially controlled—and whatever witty remark I’d thought up flitted away as I passed out. I had just enough energy left to process that Hasda wasn’t in my field of vision before I collapsed.


Well isn't that a convenient moment of clarity just to get us readers all worried. Other than that, well that went pretty much as expected, and this fight lasted not quite as long as I was expecting it to, not to mention I am now very worried about what happened to Jade in the midst of all this. Let's see where this goes next I suppose.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, I think we've potentially had our climax here for Arc Two? There's no telling because the Sea Mother is fully capable of wreaking havoc still, I don't think Charax exactly managed to halt anything. And well...we've just kind of hit perhaps a bit of a low point here. Well we've definitely hit a low point, the question is, how low will this be?

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

Stay Safe
Harry




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Mon Sep 05, 2022 10:26 pm
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Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

Well, this was certainly big! It wasn't as Jade-centric as I was expecting, but it looks like it might be more focused on her in the next parts, perhaps? Regardless, it was definitely an action-packed chapter, and for all the hype up to it, I was still surprised. Glad to see that so far, the only confirmed casualty from our main cast of characters appears to be Charax's Sword, which, you know, is still sad, but not as devastating as it would have been if Hasda or Jade had snapped. Glad I get to spend another chapter with them as a unit, though I am still nervous about what will happen next; it seems like the four of them aren't quite in the clear just yet.

I absolutely loved how snarky Charax was to the Sea Mother. It was just... ugh. So good. I love that aspect of his character—even if his Sword is slightly out of commission, no foe can ever take away his biting wit, which I appreciate greatly. Honestly, I feel like I've never taken a moment to say how much I adore Charax as the narrative point of view vessel in this work; he's such an interesting character to tell the story from. I feel like the obvious choice would have been Hasda, who falls into that "Chosen One" type very nicely, but it's not that kind of story. That's not the story you're telling here, and I really appreciate the originality and humor you convey through the world and characters. It has all the markings of a classic epic fantasy book, but with much more than the usual dose of sass, which is just. So great. Anyways. Back to this chapter specifically.

Plot-wise, I was surprised by the Sea Mother's approach. She seemed really insistent on being allies, which is generally different from the whole "bent on utter destruction" attitude that most big bosses have. I'm wondering if the whole "joining up" think is foreshadowing for something or if she's just a bit weird with her priorities. Or if Charax genuinely impressed her that much that she's changing plans. It could be a multitude of things, and I'm curious to find out if it's just like that because it's like that, or if there's something more going on. That ending also doesn't bode well for our characters. Hasda's not there, Jade's unconscious (or worse) and Charax is also passed out. Kind of nervous to see what'll go down/what Charax will find out when he comes to.

Overall: amazing job. I loved the action in this and the absolutely elite choices made with Charax's character. Very much anticipating the next part! Until next time!





And then, as if written by the hand of a bad novelist, an incredible thing happened.
— Bartimaeus of Uruk