Saturday, December 9, 2017

Summer and Winter

Once, long ago, there was a thirteenth star to be found in the constellation of the Mother.  Yellow and bright, it bore many things.  That star, yet, one day left the constellation of the Mother, looking for a new home.

She looked for years.  She journeyed through all the other constellations.  She spoke with the Mother of Wolves, and she hid from the darkness that lies between the stars.  But then, one day, she came upon a strange bird at a crossroads.

"Hello?"  She asked.

The strange bird with black feathers turned to her.  He had five eyes.  She flinched, worried it had to be something of the Void.

"Who are you?"  The bird croaked.

The star hesitated, clutching her hood tighter.  She pondered using her knife on the Bird.  She could also wait.  The two thoughts warred in her mind.  Instead, she decided to reply.

"I am Thena of the Mother.  I am looking for a new home."

"Do you have food?"  The bird croaked.

"Who are you?"  Thena asked the bird.

"I hunger."  The bird shivered.  "I am so hungry I've forgotten my names.  My two eyes have become five, and my stomach has riddled me so much I struggle to dream as I once did."

"All I have is my knife and my clothes."  The Star told him.

"Nothing else?"

Thena looked down.  She closed her eyes.  She then saw something she could give.  But she would have to cut it from herself, with the knife.  It would hurt.

"I... could give you one thing, but it is sour and all I have left,"  Thena told him.  "Why should I give it to you?"

"So many dreams, I see."  The bird croaked.  "Feed me!  I will tell you my dreams.  I see your home, I see your Daughters you will have there."

"You will tell me where my new home is?"  Thena doubted him.  The Star had always thought of having children.  But this bird, it couldn't predict what children she would have would it?

"Yes!  End this hunger and I will tell you!"

"Is it free from the void and the dark?  Is it safe there?  Safe enough for my family?"  Thena asked her voice tense.

"Feed!  ME!  I WILL TELL!"  The Five-Eyed Bird at the Crossroads cried.  "Feed me your Stomach!  Give it to me!  I know you know how!"

Thena paused.  Then she cut out her stomach.  She cut them into long strips.  Then she fed each, one at a time, to the Bird.  The slurped each up as Thena felt blood well up in her starry, empty belly.

"Black and White."  He purred, slurping up the meat.  "A place my cousins, the Ravens have found.  Black and White stars, twins.  One true, one wrong.  A world with a moon and you can hear its future crawl.

"Walk toward the Black and the White Star, toward the heart of the Constellation of the River.  Do not sleep.  When you begin to falter, when you feel pain claim your every inch, that world you fall to is the new home you seek."

Thena bandaged her now stomach-less belly.  The next day, she walked toward the River.  She didn't see a black or white star.  But she walked.  And walked.  And walked.

After two days, her throat felt parched.  Her blistered feet had started to leave red nebula in the Western night sky.  We still see in the Constellation of the River to this day.  After five days, she longed for slumber.  Her stomach-less belly had starved her, but something else had happened.

The star's stomach-less belly grew.  Upon the seventh day, she fell down.  The Star womb had swollen with two babes.  They grew so fast, so hard, that in three days they had made their mother go into labor.  She crashed into the nearest world, orbiting two stars.  One black, one white.

Thena felt the cold stone of the world under her as her two daughters stood up before her.  Twin seasons, one quiet and one warm, comforted their mother upon their fall.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Choice: The Sorting Hat (Random Thought)

Time for a bit of a ramble.  I love the idea of the sorting hat in Harry Potter, but not in that it chooses which house you belong in.  The amazing facet of Hogwarts, and any setting with its own distinct houses, guilds, factions or whatever, is how those let the audience choose what they want to align with.

Legend of the Five Rings seem crafted just for that, same as Game of Thrones.  People love having a faction they feel aligned with.  The audience chooses a faction or group that aligns with their own personality.  They get to personalize the setting a bit more.

But here's a dealio: the idea that the Sorting Hat is a choice, and not something up to chance.  No, my headcanon is that everyone who goes to Hogwarts gets to choose.

The idea that it's chance seems less interesting.  If the Sorting Hat itself asks each student which house they want to be in, that seems boring.  It picks the two most relevant houses, and the student chooses which.  Either conscious or unconsciously- the nature of the choice is another rant.  The student chooses which house they want to be, not the one they "belong to."

This is the most basic empowerment I can think of.  The option to choose which faction, which house you belong to.  In a lot of these settings, you can't choose to be in another house.  A character belongs to a house or guild or clan based on their birth.  Chance decides for them where they go.

Interesting storytelling isn't pure choice, of course.  But "facing the odds" isn't as true as a blend of chance and choice.  The fantasy of being able to choose who you want to be is what fiction (novels, tabletop rpgs, what-have-you) can be best for.  Choose who you want to be.  Align with who you want to align with.  Follow whatever house best suits you.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

City of Curses: The Iktomoyate, or the Spiderkin

It stood about a head taller than a man.  Eight, black eyes focused on the thread, not me.  It's purple carapace seemed to do well in the dark here.  Long, thin limbs flew across threads with skill.  Green energy seemed to glow from the thread as they moved.  The spell light illuminated the spidery being's dark robes, finely woven with minute details and thousands of glittering beads.

Mandibles twitched as it continued its work.  They didn't seem to notice me, if at all.  It wove and wove.  Each thread glimmering in the dark.

Iktomoyate once dwelled on Kestan Hill.  A quiet, long-lived people, they never grew to large numbers.  Although sometimes referred to as shapeshifters, Iktomoyate themselves only refer to three different shapes they can shift their bodies into, from a human-sized spider to a form that looks almost human.


Today, they dwell underneath Kestan Hill in their own quiet, insular community.  Almost all Iktomoyate are excellent weavers, able to craft almost anything from the thread as well as tell any sort of story once they know enough details.  Almost all Iktomoyate possess spinnerets and can spin their own silk.  A rare few are born without this capability, known as the Spinless amongst their own kind.

The Tomasi Empire learned Psychomancy from the Iktomoyate, treating them as fellow citizens.  Unlike the Ursyklon, which the Tomasi long distrusted for ruling over them centuries before, the Spiderkin were seen as fellow seekers of arcane and other knowledge.  Spiderkin all are innate Psychomancers, able to thread mental magicks into their own webbing.

When Othebea came to dominate Ith, they came into conflict with the Iktomoyate.  Largely this was due to cultural misunderstandings between their peoples.  At its height, the two peoples crafted magical weapons they employed against one another.  Othebeans found the Spiderkin to be cold and cruel, seeing their hatching rituals as cannibalistic.  The Iktomoyate hatch from thousands of eggs, but their young, known as Spiderlings, are regarded as vermin.

Spiderlings remain small and seemingly without intelligent thought until they mature at roughly a century of age.  They vary from the size of a human hand to ponies.  Iktomoyate don't regard them as children.  They will even kill Spiderlings if they find them in the way.  Only when a Spiderling shows some use of Psychomancy will other Spiderkin adopt them into their society.

This attitude leads Spiderkin to sometimes clash with others.  In the case of the Rosac Humans, this led to a conflict.  The accidental death of human children and spiderlings spiraled out of control.  Othebean monster hunters assumed the worse.  Iktomoyate psychics tried to use psychomancy to show memories of what truly happened, but their spellcasting was seen as an attack.  A lie crafted to draw them into the web.

The Spiderkin remember it as a tapestry.  Once they lived in thick web mazes a top Kestan Hill.  Then humans in shining armor, fire and black robes drove them away.  Punished for trying to tell their side of the story.  Even then, they admit to some fault.  The tale still hasn't ended.  The Spiderkin keep their wrath restrained, only maintaining their ancient weapon against the Othebean invaders, an amnesiac fog.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

I Serve the Darkness 2


"C'mon!  Get moving, man!"

The screaming voice startled me.  I looked up and turned red.  I hurried to the other side of the crosswalk.  I felt blush from my distraction.

I had stopped in the middle of the road.  I just stood there, in my imagination, going over the last night's session.  Over and over.  Every single moment of awesome.

"You need to pay attention," I admonished myself.  "Someone will run you over if you just get stuck in your head all the time.  Besides it wasn't that good."

That was a lie.  My head still strode in the table RPG session, my domain as Game Master.  Storyteller.

I had woven a complex game. A harrowing urban adventure.  The players took on the role of occult investigators in a fictional version of Portland.  I'd sprung the big twist on the players.  It took us until midnight to unravel it.

"But every moment mattered,"  I told myself as I reached my bus stop.

I looked up.  Music rumbled in my earbuds as I said down to wait.  No bus.  Heavy metal rumbled in my ears.  Then it slid sharply to Johnny Cash, then some random pop songs I'd gotten hooked onto at work.

A figure approached the bench I sat on.  My automatic, introvert sense kicked in.  I moved away, giving the stranger space to sit down.  He didn't.

He moved in front of me again.  I looked up, a bit of anxiety sinking in.  A one-armed figure towered over me.  His white beard looked stained by tobacco.  He wore a dark grey baseball cap.  It looked like it seen better days.  His army jacket hung on him, it didn't fit.  It fit with his greasy t-shirt, which had something in German on it I couldn't recognize.

I could smell him too.  I winced.  He kept talking and gesturing at me.  With apprehension, I took out my earbuds.

"Can't you hear me?"  He sputtered at me.  "I ask you to forgive me.  I know who you are!  I know what you are!  Please forgive me and listen!"

"Uh..."  Eloquence and quick language skills.  What everyone can expect from every introvert.  Especially when confronted with a crazy person on the street.

He grabbed me by the shoulder.

"You are of the blood!  You need to find it.  Let me help you!"

As if by a miracle, the bus appeared.  I hurried to it.  The old man stared at me, his eyes desperate.  Like they were trying to make me realize something.  That same look trolls online must get from people who try to out argue them.

"Look, I... I got to go."  I pulled out a five dollar bill.  "Here, just take this.  I'm sorry I don't have anything more for you.  Get to a hospital or whoever can get you this blood you're looking for."

As the bus drove off, I could see the old man's head fall.  He murmured something to himself.  He looked back up.  Surety in his face made my skin crawl.

Then he was gone.

Rain started to splatter the windows as the last bus of the day took me closer to home.  Or home here in the city.  The home I made.

"Tired,"  I told myself as I put my earbuds back on.  Music drowned out the rain.

I felt tired.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I Serve The Darkness 1

Marie found the girl in the ruins of a wagon.  She had expected a demon on this hunt.  Not this.

She and her mule had crested the prairie hill.  Marie had smelled the smoke.  Her hand rested on her satchel.

"I'm not using you yet."

The item inside the satchel seemed to ache at her.  Irritated she ignored those whispers.  She guided the mule down the hill toward the smoking wagon.  It must've been on fire earlier in the day.  Marie didn't hurry.

Her hunt for demons had taught her to be careful.  She didn't hurry.  Her mother's people knew to keep an eye on the shadows, to not give demons the chance sneak up upon her with them.  Her father's ways, though, knew the names of the White Demons and how to turn their cunning against them.

Something had struck the wagon down.  The wood had been shattered in places.  Marie could see marks where something had charged into the wagon, breaking the wheels.  Charred bones remained yoked, the rot of meat making Marie's nostril twinge.

She checked for good meat in the oxen's corpses anyway.  Marie couldn't find much between the char and the rot.  But she did find something feasting.  A little gray and white pup chewed on a hoof left by destroyed wagon.

"Hello, wee thing."  Marie knelt down.

Sensing her, the pup wagged its tail.  It seemed happy to interrupt its feast to yap up at her.

"I see.  Where?"

The pup ran toward the wagon.  Marie nodded, getting the canine's meaning.  She followed.

Something shivered in the wagon's remains.  It tried to not move.  Marie sighed, pulling the child in the red dress out of the debris.  The girl, Marie surmised, had not expected Marie's strength, yelping in fear as Marie pulled her out in one go.

"Hey!  Let go!"

The cream color of the child's skin clashed with Marie's ruddy, sun burnt hands.  Marie tightened her grip on the squirming child.  She studied it.  Looking for any sign.

"That hurts!"

"Quiet,"  Marie said.  She closed eyes, trying to let her senses search for any dark magick.  For any demon scents.  For anything...

"No,"  Marie told herself.  "This isn't possible."

"Can you let go of me now?"  The child cried, trying to free itself.  Marie absentmindedly let them go.

The child fell flat to the ground.  That was when Marie saw the swollen left ankle.  The pup came over and licked the child's face.  Red freckles and brown eyebrows furrowed in pain.

"I thought I was..."  Marie's hand had returned to the satchel.  She felt its tug.  Answers came with that power.  That call.

Marie could use it, find the trail of the demons that had done this.  Power.  Her magicks would be powerful enough to find all of this child's secrets.  It would let her prove whether or not this child was of the blood or not.

"Who are you lady?  And why do you talk so funny?  If you are going to take me away to eat me with your chief or what-"

"Shut up."  Marie snapped.  Stupid whites and their bullshit.  They never seemed to see the veil, yet the world always seemed to favor them.

After a moment, Marie looked at the child with her blue-green eyes.



"You will call me Redstar and obey me if you want to eat tonight."  Marie grabbed the child, hoisting them onto the mule's saddle.  "If you prove your worth girl, I'll treat you well."

"You aren't going to eat me?"

Marie sighed.

"You are of the blood and you don't know it at all?"

The child looked at Marie like she'd said something strange.  Marie pinched the bridge of her nose.  Time to move.  Marie had a guess that staying near the wagons might attract whatever had taken it down.

So Redstar moved on, irritated and with a child in tow.

"C'mon.  Let's get moving."

Monday, July 24, 2017

City of Curses: Vault, the Floating Frontier

The eerie continent of Vault appeared after the Night of Fire.  Its sudden appearance is just one of its mysteries.  That the Vault floats in midair, roughly eighty handspans from the surface of the Ocean is another mystery.  For millennia, the Prince had cloaked it from all vision.  Prior to 1786 AO, most of the world had been unawares of the Floating Frontier.

The Old Prince had restricted access to Vault so tightly that no one had suspicions of it.  The adamantine and other mysterious ores the Prince smuggled into Crux were thought to be just another part of the greater mysteries that surrounded him.  His successor has taken no interest in Vault.   He gave up most claims to it, save for the massive Castle on Vault that over looks the Secret Sound.  The new Tinkerer has announced plans to construct a bridge linking Vault to the mainland of Crux.  Once completed, Crux will no longer connect just two continents, but three.
Vault is unique.

The mechanism that causes it to float is unknown.  Some speculate it could be the result of some ancient artifact the Old Prince had hidden.  Others surmise a mineral or substance within Vault causes the floating effect.

The fauna and flora of Vault differ greatly from Necruxa and Ainesia as well.  The megafauna of Vault seem related to animals found throughout the rest of the world, but are bigger, or are vastly different in how they appear.  More that are discovered remain unique and different from those found elsewhere.  The megafauna are matched by the Vault Giants, an introspective folk who seem to find other intelligent folk intimidating, despite any size advantage they might have.

Ruins from the Aetheric Empire are scattered throughout Vault.  Metallic, giant structures that vibrate with energies that aren't just magic but somewhere between science and magic.   They bear sigils that still need translating.  The recent discovery of the First City underneath the Skullmount has drawn comparisons.  Some of the ruins match writing found in the First City.  It remains a great mystery, however.  This attracts delvers and treasure hunters from all over the world to Crux to enter the Floating Frontier.

The Android who has taken on the title of Tinkerer has begun to construct a bridge between Crux and the lowest ledges of Vault, creating an easier means for the City of Curses to expand onto the once hidden continent.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Heart in a Box (flash fiction)

There once was a girl who kept her heart in a box.  A wooden box with glass inlaid in it.  It glowed along with her heart's beat.

That's where she kept it.  In a box. And never once did she want to put it back in her chest.

She would open the lid and listen to her heart sing its song.  The heart song would keep her dry in rain and cool in summer heat.

In dead of winter, her heart's song would make plants grow and move as if painted with brushstrokes.

She never wanted anything wicked to happen to her heart, so the box was always clean.

But she would never put it in her chest.  Never.  Ever.

Worse would be those who suggested she give it away.  How could she be without its song to keep her?

Without her heart, where would she be?

Besides, she would say, no one could keep her heart like she.

The girl who kept her heart in a box, kept it hidden from all others.  Sometimes handsome boys and wonderful girls would ask her if she would share her heart with them.  Some tried to steal it.

They failed.

The girl never shared her heart.  She kept it hidden in her box.  And she was happier for it.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

City of Curses: The Ainong or Starfolk (pt 2)

More on the Ainong tribe of humans in Crux.  Crux, City of Curses, is a dark fantasy setting of intrigues, early industry and more than a little horror. 

Sacred Crop

Each Starcircle is also defined by a signature crop.  For Northern Ainong Starcircles, they are known for honoring Phast as holy.

In the south, Starcircles seem to worship the rice they harvest.  In between, corn and other crops become sacred objects, central to their own starcircle.

Villages within a starcircle take special pride in their signature crop.  They often claim that their variety of the crop is the best in the world.  Each village has dozens of specialized varieties of that crop.  A few unique varieties are so rare that they fetch high prices in foreign markets.


Phast vines grow into the bark of trees.  It's hairy beards, much like lichen, can be harvested for use much like grain or rice.

Phast can be dried and ground up for flour or fermented into alcohol, or Siduri.  When ground or fermented, it takes on a red-purple color.

Ripe Phast beards turn a red-purplelor, but quickly turn white after being picked.  Phast grows clonally- that is, new grafts of the mother plant can be implanted into host trees.  Overplanting Phast is a common practice for quicker harvests, but it kills the host trees.  Conifers are best for hosts as some decidious trees are toxic to Phast growths.  Compared to Wheat or

Rice, Phast is always obvious in its red purple coloring, if ripe and proper.  Rotten or stale Phast foods tend to take on a blacker appearance.

Jiva Giantslayer

One of the popular folk heros of many Ainong tales are the Jiva stories.  Jiva varies from each story, always being a lazy girl whose own foolishness gets her into trouble- but she always manages to triumph through her own trickery.  She slays giants or steals vast wealth from Salira kings or Tomasi wizards.  Jiva always is seen as clever and young.  All Ainong know a Jiva story.

All Ainong claim Jiva came from their village, and that Jiva is the same Jiva in all the stories.  That the one true Jiva came from their village, not anywhere else.

Ainong Naming Conventions

All Ainong have a first name, starcircle name and a family name.  Family names among the Ainong are unique in that it is created when an Ainong couple first marries. Some keep their birth family's name, others don't.  The practice varies from family to family.

Each starcircle name is compounded together for each starcircle the Ainong belongs to.  The order of precedence is complicated, varying from geographic perspective to myth and legend.

First Names: Jiva, Cam, Gich, Kao, Nguket, Qann, Janya, Zhel, Ushkan, Rada
Family Names: Lastwater, Newblood, Heart, Cornwalker, Swordeater, Blackphast, Rootpicker, Rebel, Flagtaker, Suntiller
Starcircle Name: Bog, Rog, Lav, Vhi, Din, Thi, Juong, Ahi, Az, Urka

Thursday, April 20, 2017

City of Curses: The Ainong, or Starfolk (pt 1)

#Crux, City of Curses, is a dark fantasy setting of intrigues, early industry and more than a little horror. 

The Ainong's oldest saying is one most of them remember: there are no Kings among the Ainong.  There are no lords.  No Ainong wears a crown.  They are born with only dirt below and the stars above.

The human tribe of the Ainong always see themselves as the last.  According to Ainong legend, their people were the last children of a Dragon and a Tree, the elder children becoming the kings of the Tomasi, Salaro and Rosac.  They are often the last human tribe named in tales.  In the recorded annals of the Machine, even the Ocridese and the Soramese come before them.

The Ursyklon conquest moved around them, as the Ainong never had cities to fall or treasures to take.  Salaro Sea Lords raided them.  The Tomasi Empire conquered them, only to forget them as it fell into ruin.  Vampyres and monsters would harass them, but not one true power claimed lordship over them.  Jarn in Bor would take what they wanted from them, crossing the narrow strait from
Bor into Ainesia.

But the Ainong themselves never created any kingdoms.  Instead, they always became part of kingdoms established by Tomasi Summoner-Lords.  Or Rosac Crusaders. Or Salaro nobles during the Othebean Crusades.

They were the peasants.  The serfs.  They tended their vast forests, growing phast to feed themselves.  Each Ainong village is part of a Starcircle.  A Starcircle is a vast area.  Part of it is ruins from long ago.  It's a decentralized polity.  They overlapped one another and involved oaths of alliance between one another.

Foreign Kings would bind Starcircles to their rule.  But never were able to break how they wove the many Ainong villages together.  Ossath transverse and bond Ainong villages together.  Ossath are semidemocratic, Ainong warrior hosts.  Kings and nobles could sometimes win over the Ossath.  But other times Ossath wiped out kings or nobles that would command them.  The Ossath love freedom.

Any Ainong can join an Ossath by seeking them out.  Ossath hosts take their names from constellations.  Each Ossath would serve in the warmer months, then return back to their villages in winter.  The Ossath follow the idea of the Ainong, all swearing to never serve any king.  These days the Ossath exist between outlaws and soldiers in Ainesia.  They serve the Empress and yet many Ossath hosts are willing to disobey.


The idea of the Starcircles are more important among the Starfolk as a people than outsiders.  A starcircle refers to ancient temples found throughout Ainesia, ruins from the Aetheric Empire.  Each ruin seems built around one constellation or another.

Their locations are often around or right under Ainong Towns. One can find massive ruin complexes right in the center of a traditional Starcircle.  Right where the center of the circle would be drawn on a map.

Each village around a ruin maintains strong connections to one another.  The central town of a Starcircle often based around the ruins themselves.  Or have some proximity to it.  A Starcaller often is elected among those villages within a Starcircle's reach.  Some villages vote in many such starcaller elections.  They can sit among multiple starcircles' reaches.

A Starcaller is given the task of maintaining the old Starcircle ruins.  Some do well at this, others treat the role as symbolic.  These days the Empire of Ainesia ignores the role, often sending their own agents to poke and prod the ruins.  Each village has its own view of the surrounding Starcircle ruins.  Some dislike them, eager to get rid of the ancient structures.

Others see them as sacred and kill those who would violate them.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

City of Curses: Salaro Dragonblut and etc.

#Crux, City of Curses, is a dark fantasy setting of intrigues, early industry and more than a little horror. Here's some random thoughts on a human tribe with associations with dragons and fezes, the Salaro...


Among the Salaro, there are many tales of liaisons with Dragons.  Centuries of Salaro Dragon cults and associations with draconic entities led to the term Dragonblut, the idea that a few Salaro were descended from dragons.  Salaro have a number of fables and tales on Dragonblut.  But the most common are to explain exclusively Salaro physical traits.

A few Salaro are born with strange mutations.  Skin of a unnatural pigment- blue or crimson or bright gold.  Scales on a one's hand.  Heterochromia- two eyes of differing colors, one of which being a color not often seen in humans like purple.

Dragonblut are not Tieflings, but Salaro Tieflings can also be of Dragonblut.  The two are often mistaken for one or the other.

The only way to truly identify a dragonblut is the nature of their blood itself.  Dragonblut blood can alter the color of fire it burns in.  It isn't uncommon for Salaro Tieflings to try to fake being Dragonblut, if their physical deformities allow them to.

Salaro attribute a variety of magical abilities to Dragonblut, but there is little to no actual evidence of it outside those stories.  Dragonblut seems to endear and charm dragons.  Dragons seem to find such Salaro alluring.  This isn't always a plus, as some dragons devour dragonblut as often as become friends with them.

Perhaps the best benefit Dragonblut find is that their blood is prized as a trade good among Dragons, Demons, Devils and Fae.

Arcane inclined Salaro will always offer their blood as trade for services.  Something about the substance is viewed as valuable, even if it lacks a inherent magical effect of its own.

Salaro Adages

Here's how to sound like a Salaro!

Thinks they have longer locks.  Referring to the length of one's hair- as Salaro never cut their hair, a reference to overestimating one's own wisdom.
Only Dragons should die for gold.  A warning against dying while doing something that has no risk; Dragons squat on their gold, dying for one's own gold is less desired than dying for something more risky.
One enemy is too many, and a hundred friends are not enough.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Art, March 17th 2017

Another week, another batch of art.

St. Patrick's Day and the like.  Oh.  And Spring.  Spring is here too.  Let's throw art at then.

On twitter and instagram I post these sorts of images every day.  If you are looking for some place to follow and get these in your feed, check those out.

Also, if you want to support images like this, the stories on this blog and more, check out my patreon.  It isn't necessary for this stuff, but it'd help with expanding some of my projects a bit.  I also take commissions, so don't be afraid to message me about that.

A bit of Crux this time.  And a cat.  And some experiments, both flawed and not. 

Well, let's see what I got done.

A cyberwood image of a home.  A decapitated robot head seemed like a good choice.

More color experimentation.  I think the red works.  Watching a bunch of home DIY videos on youtube might've infected my brain too.

For some reason, Harpies got into my head.  Did a bunch of research on them.  LOTS of research.  A deep hole, bird-people is.  Gharudya is a reference to the Garuda, a bird people in Hindu myth.  Took me awhile to narrow down a name, there were a lot of different ones to take ideas from.  I did do another one too... 

The second Harpy.  This took multiple attempts to get down right.

In her hand is a Sirinfetish, the magical items that Gharudya (they don't like being called harpies, btw) create from the souls of evil they collect.  I think they are flutes of a sort.  It fits I think.

No, that's the title of this one.  Almost didn't finish it.  But all darkness fades if you try hard enough.

The city of curses is a recurring setting of mine.  This is very much Crux in two ways: the skullmount in the distance (although it might look more like a black splotch) and a bird wearing a hat.  Very much a 

Because cats were a theme.  Next time I'll show the other cat thing that managed to get into my arts.

A brief experiment with coloring, but not something I'm 100% happy with.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Center Cannot Hold: The Gharudya or Harpies

Here's a Crux bit of setting.  Been working on collecting a bunch of notes and also been creating some new material.  Harpies are their own interesting mythological hole.  Here's how they are in Crux, the City of Curses.  Crux is a Magical Western Fantasy I've been fiddling with for awhile now- it is a city founded atop the skull of a forgotten dead god, filled with intrigues and arcane industrial wonders of a new age, while old enemies scheme in dark places.

Harpies, or the Gharudya: Children of the Witching Wind

Harpies dislike the word Harpy.  But unlike the Ursyklon, they do not use violence to discourage the slur.  Instead, the Gharudya tend to remember those who wronged them.  And on the day they might die, evildoers can hear their wings from a distance.

Harpies make for interesting art too.
They are cousins of the Tengu.  Gharudya believe that they must contain evil souls.  This prevents such evil souls to reincarnate into the next generation.  Like the Tengu, they too are reborn into each generation.  But Gharudya do not listen to the voices of their reincarnated souls.  Instead they collect their own reincarnated souls.

They drink the Dreamwater to learn what sins their soul has committed in the past.  Faithful Gharudya have a complicated funeral rite.  It imprisons their own souls into Sirinfetishes upon their death.  These magical items contain all the souls a Gharudya had collected in life.  A collection often made by killing evildoers, as well as finding evil souls that have recently died.

To die without imprisoning their own souls is seen as a great wrong in the minds of the Gharudya.  They do not see themselves as a good or just people.  They must be sealed away along with their prisoners to insure the betterment of the world.  The Gharudya see the diminishing numbers of their people as a sign.  It is a sign that the world is becoming better with time.

Every Gharudya has a song.  It is a mournful dirge that grows as their collection does.  But there have always been Gharudya that try to abandon their duty, that try to escape the song.  Other Gharudya know better, a harpy can never escape their song.  Most Gharudya also know how to use their song to draw others to them, to hypnotize those whose minds lose concentration enough to resist them.

Witching Winds

The Gharudya worship the Kazic goddess Kazi-Paja, the Witching Wind.  In Gharudya Kazism, Paja sacrifices her own beauty to save the world from drowning.  The lesson they learn is not to seek out the path for the world.  But instead, they are to find the witching wind and let it take over their lives completely.

Witching Wind priests often are leaders of Gharudya clutches.  Clutches are the term used for any traveling Gharudya community.  Witching Wing Priest's blessings hatch healthy eggs.  They teach the Rite of Taking, the rite that all Gharudya use to take souls from evildoers they slay or see die.  As a people, all Gharudya are nomadic.  They travel looking for evildoers.  Each clutch is more interested in searching for evil souls than building settlements.

The Gharudya have only a few handfuls of sacred sites.  One of which they share with fellow nomads, the Sabizi.  The nomadic city of Rani moves along paths that have ancient Gharudya monoliths.  The Gharudya visit them as part of sealing sirinfetishes away.  The Sabizi keep those places safe.  In turn, most Gharudya as a rule aid Sabizi whenever they see any of the greenfolk on their travels.

Wanderers and Rani

Sabizi and Gharudya often share campfires on the road.  The Sabizi dance while Gharudya play flute music.  They swap warnings of dangers.  They tell of great wonders they seen.  Both peoples even share a mutual interest in the Nagaorochi.  The Greenfolk fear their old, hidden masters.  But the Gharudya seek out Nagaorochi souls with zeal.  They are always certain that the serpentfolk have worthy evil souls for them to take.

As the Gharudya have no set homes, they wander.  Often they know trade routes better than others, making them valued guides.  Often they will take payment in the form of a convicted criminal.  In other times, they will follow rumors of those most horrible of evil souls.  They act as scouts.  More than a few Gharudya become bounty hunters.  Yet many others join Sabizi caravans.  They wander as musicians and always keeping an open eye for any evil they might cross.

Sacred Rookeries

As most Gharudya clutches wander, the only time Gharudya settle is for their eggs.  Gharudya take from a year to two years to hatch from their eggs.  Gharudya rookeries are the closest thing to actual settlements they have as a people.  The larger the rookery, the more sacred the locale becomes to them as a people.

Near Rani, large rookeries became the monolith sites the Nomadic City journeys along.  Any Rookery that sports more than twenty eggs attracts more Gharudya to it.  Until the eggs hatch, all Gharudya that hear of such a Rookery journey to it, adding to the site.  Once all the eggs have hatched, the Gharudya leave the place.

Sometimes they leave a single monolith.  Other times, they leave statues and even buildings.  Some Gharudya might come back to such places.  But most Gharudya only come back to them to die and complete their Sirinfetishes.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Art, March 10th 2017

Haven't posted something since mid-February.  Ugh.

Alright.  Rather than bombard this with past weeks of art, here is this past week's load of art.  Last week I did a personal challenge of seven colors in seven days.  This week saw the end of that.  Also, a bunch of robots.  A Lamia.  A motley collection, but my motley collection of art. (ja, a bit of stretch on some of the dates, but whatever.  Gotta share the arts with you.)

What is this? On twitter and instagram I post these sorts of images every day.  If you are looking for some place to follow and get these in your feed, check those out. 

Also, if you want to support images like this, the stories on this blog and more, check out my patreon.  It isn't necessary for this stuff, but it'd help with expanding some of my projects a bit.  I also take commissions, so don't be afraid to message me about that.

Purple.  A tower, because it felt purple to me.

Violet, the last one.  I kinda don't see why violet has to be considered different from purple or red, but... oh well.  

A bit of an action pose.  I didn't see a reason to color this, as the action in it felt fine without color.  A Cecaelia doing a roundhouse kick was kinda challenge?  I felt like it was.  

Image from my head.  A robot hanging from the ceiling.  The colors snapped very well together.  Very red, maybe an echo of my week of monochromatics.

Got a bit of a robot tear.  A friend like the idea of more robot stuff, but my second foray on it was something junkyard-ish.  Tired, my only comment on posting it was "Everything dies."

Well, that sounds positive, don't it?

I thought about arting an incarnation of stupidity or something weird like that.  But a friend insisted and I did another hanging robot.  Instead of red, I did this one in blue.  And I did a bit of rhyme paraphrasing for it too.  The factory and textured turned out pretty amazing on it.

Ugh.  I don't like how this Lamia piece turned out.   I've been researching them as a subject, but couldn't quite make it look right.  Le sigh.  And is my nature with these, I share my duds as well as my bombs.

Ja.  There are two versions of this one.  I loved my first result, but I think my obsession with the character design kept me from perfecting the composition.  It's up to you to decide which one is better.  I think the bottom one with more purples is the best one.  

I think the lesson is that I need try out more color schema and work colors more.  The time consumption of these colored pieces though, make them feel like they take forever to get done to me.

If you'd enjoyed any of these, consider commissioning a piece from me.   The cost varies from $10 to about $25.  Follow the link for instructions on how.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Art, Week of February 17th 2017

Six.  I present six pieces of artness for you this week, the week of
the Bloody Heart.

Why Bloody Heart?  Well, Valentines Day always makes me think of a Bloody Heart.  Bloody Heart Day came and went.  And the weather picked up a bit, being less snowy and depressing.  So let's see if my art reflected that. 

On twitter and instagram I post these sorts of images every day.  If you are looking for some place to follow and get these in your feed, check those out.

Also, if you want to support images like this, the stories on this blog and more, check out my patreon.  It isn't necessary for this stuff, but it'd help with expanding some of my projects a bit.  I also take commissions, so don't be afraid to message me about that.

More Cyberwood stuff.  And some experimentation too.  Only one piece really felt really good this week to me.  But the experimentation came across kinda neat.

Tall.  Maybe more concept than anything else.  Just wanted to see if the tallness would convey the right idea or not.

Asked a friend for an idea.  Managed to come up with this.  Fish.  A rainbow trout, because I come from the Western US and this is the first idea of "fish" that came to me.  Fish are... well, remarkably easy to get right.

Tired, I decided to just get some doodling.  In my head, the setting of Cyberwood requires some sort of mouth covering to survive.  Maybe I just love headgear or masks.  But I liked the variety I got done here.  And keeping it black and white worked.

Maybe a day late for Valentines day, I decided on Primroses for Bloody Heart day.  The coloring turned out pretty good.  Still, I think I've done flowers better.

This is the one I liked the best this week.  I just was trying to correctly draw Canada angry.  I got there and then some.  I've been fiddling with this character over and over, and I think I've managed to get the colors and look to where I like them.  I don't think "angry" is her default look.  But this caught the image in my head.

Today, well, for the 17th I did this.  A plate of food.  Variety.  It's how one survives.  Or one's imagination anyway.

Ok.  Another week down.  Please share any of the art you like here.  All of my art is under a creative commons, noncommercial sharealike license- that is, you can share it without my direct permission as long as you credit back to me.  And not make money off it.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Art, Week of February 10th 2017

I'm late on this again.  Le sigh.

Heres the past week's arts.  Not much commentary this time.
twitter and instagram I post these sorts of images every day.  If you are looking for some place to follow and get these in your feed, check those out.

Also, if you want to support images like this, the stories on this blog and more, check out my patreon.  It isn't necessary for this stuff, but it'd help with expanding some of my projects a bit.  I also take commissions, so don't be afraid to message me about that.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Art, Week of February 3rd 2017

End of January and starting February, got another six pieces done.  My personal policy of "I can take a single day off" makes this a six art week instead of seven.

Oh well.

On twitter and instagram I post these sorts of images every day.  If you are looking for some place to follow and get these in your feed, check those out.

Also, if you want to support images like this, the stories on this blog and more, check out my patreon.  It isn't necessary for this stuff, but it'd help with expanding some of my projects a bit.  I also take commissions, so don't be afraid to message me about that.

Another political piece.  Explained here.

Bookhole, a home in the Cyberwood.

Some Indian Paintbrush in the Cyberwood.  Felt like fun to draw some.

The Shiro of the deepest Cyberwood know the songs that hum in the cyberplant's programming.  They can bypass the line and debug directly.  Through the cyberplants, they've found they can command the slaves of the forest: the many animals hardwired to serve the ever growing, ever infesting Cyberwood.

If you have suggestions or ideas for future art for my daily work, let me know.  Or consider commissioning me for a piece too!

Monday, January 30, 2017

City of Curses: Cecaelia: Introverted Sea Witches

Crux is on-again, off-again project of mine.  #Crux, City of Curses, is a dark #fantasy with guns, androids, mysteries, intrigues and lot of #magicalwestern stuff packed in.  

An offshoot of early Aboleth experiments on humans, they are called Cecaelia.  Their upper torsos are human, with the majority of their species being female and only a few males, if any.  Cecaelia are strange in that they have no elderly and most of their species looks hale and young.  

They prefer their isolation, only developing clutches based around particular prominent witches.  Witchcraft is the basis of all their communities, so much so that non-witch Cecaelia are seen as pariahs.  The Cecaelia Witches in Ith have citizenship, using their underwater talents to aid Ithic trade and research.  The Cecaelia are introverts by nature.  As such, they've rarely willingly mixed with other species.

All Cecaelia are aquatic first, although they can survive on land for a fair amount of time.
Even though they are amphibious to a large extent, they still can't live for a long time out of water without experiencing dehydration or pain.  This means most Cecaelia living amongst other species oft live within walking distance to the nearest source of water.

Blue-Blooded Superstitutions

Cecaelia are introverts by default.  As such, they often will avoid other species, even other members of their own clutch, rather than socialize or even talk.  This behavior, often out of an urge to avoid people they don't know, has long associated a number of superstitions with them.
They would rather these ideas didn't exist.  Because they find some of them embarrassing or outright harassment to deal with.

Blue Blood Cures Old Age: Cecaelian blood is blue, not red like humans.  The color has attracted a number of mystical claims.  Most often, sailors claim it can cure old age.  They point to how the Cecaelia all look so young.  They claim that it originates in their blue blood.  The Cecaelia state otherwise, often citing the spawnurge as the cause of the lack of elderly among their people (see below).

Cecaelia Ink Curses: Cecaelia have breasts, but unlike female mammals, these are ink sacs.  This includes male Cecaelia.  Like Octopi, they can be released underwater to some effect.  But Salish Sailors claim the ink can curse those who are sprayed by it.  But on the other hand, some Ramelin mystics insist Cecaelia ink makes for a potent oracular elixir.  Cecaelia don't like to talk about it at all.  They avoid the subject if they can.  Cecaelian males even dress as females to avoid having to explain why men among their people have priests.

Cecaelia Siren Songs: The last superstition is one that Cecaelia don't quite avoid encouraging.  The idea that they can steer vessels off course, or for the sea to take them, the Cecaelia smile at.  Some clutches do indeed do what they can to get ships to where they want, albeit for different reasons.  Sailors tell tales of Cecaelian Sea Witches standing upon the rocks, naked with songs, and of the seapeople that drowned trying to reach them.

The Spawnurge

Cecaelia brood.  This is called the Spawnurge by them.  The act of procreating is of great significance to them.  Brooding causes Cecaelia parents to obsess over protecting and incubating their eggs.  Octopusfolk do brood fervently.

Cecaelia will starve themselves while brooding.  Both parents almost never survive brooding.  Even parents that survive tend to die within months of their children hatching.  Cecaelia lay between a hundred and a thousand eggs, only a tiny percentage survive to adolescence.  The Spawnurge leaves young Cecaelia orphans.

Cecaelian clutches foster the young together.  Infant and child Cecaelia have no human looking features, only having their humanoid torsos manifesting around ten years of age.

Cecaelia Naming Conventions

Cecaelia do not receive names until they reach the age of thirteen.  Even then, it often is a singular name.  Often the process is simple, but varies from clutch to clutch.

Some are named based on the day of the week they hatched, often with a color placed before or after the name based on the whim of the Cecaelia.  Others are named based on which constellations are in highest prominence.

Cecaelia names all sound feminine, but they have no gender distinction in their naming.
Weekday Names: Anwen, Bryn, Ellis, Irusana, Arsansia, Xaniasa, Hod
Constellation Names: (the seven before are in addition to these) Anid, Meiriona, Iona, Thys, Zhansa
Example Name: Black Anwen, Gold Ellis, Red Iona

Cecaelia Clutches themselves tend to lack proper names too.  Because the Octopi folk are so few in number, they have little to no reason to even attempt to adopt surnames.  One or two have, often to help themselves avoid scrutiny among humans in Ith.  In some clutches, those without witchcraft often are referred to by their role in the clutch, not their name.