9.22.2018

Festivities

It was an extremely full and satisfying day for the O'Richey-O household.  We had two Events scheduled for today: TLG's School Picnic in the AM, and the Multicultural Festival in the PM.

For the picnic we signed up to bring brownies, and I thought it would be a good experience for TLG and I to bake them early in the morning, and then bring them to the picnic.  Pride in accomplishments, and all that.  So around 0900 (after a quick trip to the store to buy eggs, which he helped me check for cracks) we began the process.
He was extremely excited about the egg.
It didn't take too long to put the batter together (even including cleaning up the egg he crushed rather than cracked), and soon we were popping it into the oven.
Official Taste Tester
Which, uh, kind of decided not to work.  As in, it decided that 250 was pretty much it's default setting, consequences be damned.  I kept those brownies in there nearly 90 minutes (did manage to coax the oven up to about 335 for the last 10), and finally had to pull them out so they could cool for fifteen minutes before we left.

Those brownies were 100% not done.

Now, they were done enough.  Enough that I'd eat them, or give them to family to eat, and just enjoy the chewy rawness of the bottom.  But to take to a Class Picnic, where people might actually complain about salmonella?  No.  So on our way to school we popped into WalMart to pick up a substitute; "We already have brownies!" TLG shrieked in indignation (pride in accomplishment, sigh), but after I explained the situation (ie lied and told him I didn't think we had enough) he grudgingly agreed to their purchase, with the caveat that he got to carry them.

The point of the picnic was to celebrate grandparents, but since TLG's all live far far away, we instead brought my aunt and uncle to represent the generation.  TLG had a grand old time running his great uncle ragged on the playground!
Not nearly as death-trappish as they were in MY day.
I may or may not have indulged in some hokey pokey with him.  But there's no photographic evidence, so who can tell.

Fortunately for everyone he fell asleep on the way home, so he got an hour nap (and I got a chance to write some Severan stuff, which I'll share in a few days) before we had to get ready for Event Number Two.

I'd been so focused on the chance to eat delicious ethnic foods that I had totally spaced on the fact that we've got some multiculturalism in our household, too.  But fortunately at the very last moment it occurred to me, and I squeezed TLG into his vintage lederhosen (passed down through the family from the aforementioned great uncle).  I was bummed that I hadn't thought of it in time to have my mom ship me my dirndls, but there's always next year...
Ready to Ride!  Possibly for the last time, because he's just about outgrown that seat.
We rode my bike there (love being able to ride my bike to fun things) and TLG was an immediate hit with the police officers wandering around: they gave him a shield sticker and directed us to the bike corral.  Once we had it locked up, TLG made a beeline for the playground, but pretty quickly thereafter he caught sight of the hula dancers on stage and got mesmerized.  I eventually coaxed him back down, and we checked out some of the booths, until he told me he wanted food- but then on the way to the food he caught sight of kids with balloon animals, so we had to take a detour for "a brown monkey!"
He would literally bite his money's face off within five minutes.  Enemies beware.
Monkey secured, we got ourselves some delicious street tacos, and followed it up with a peach ice-pop to share.
Not necessarily multicultural, but a favorite from the Farmer's Market we were excited to find here.
We spent some time watching beautiful Mexican dancers, and playing with a little paper toy bus (TLG is enamored of city buses), but eventually we were ready to head home.
They looked like butterflies.

A burst of sunshine!
All in all it was a great time, and next year I'm thinking I'll wear my dirndl, have Nathan wear a kilt, and we flip a coin to see which of our 52 flavors TLG will represent!
Cultured!

9.17.2018

Past Performance Is No Guarantee of Future Results

As you may or may not know, I generally pay the bills by being a Financial Advisor.  This means I work in a Highly Regulated Industry, which means I get to give lots of disclaimers on a daily basis, including the one I used as the title of this blog entry.  But in this instance I'm not using it to refer to Market Performance, but rather to Spawning Speculation.

The post from the other day, in which I wallowed in the perfection of my child, got me thinking about the possibility of recreating such perfection.  In other words, about siblings.  We have purposefully (and carefully) avoided providing any for TLG thus far, for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is a) how hard it was to get him in the first place and b) how awesome he has turned out to be.

I know, I know- you'd think having an awful child would be more likely to give us pause than having such a cool one, but no.  Not so.  After all, what if a new spawn didn't live up to the standards set by TLG?  And let's be real- babies are freaking boring, especially compared to curious, independent little preschoolers.  And let us not forget that sleep deprivation is literally a form of torture.  (You read that correctly, Gentle Readers: I am of the informed opinion that babies are boring torture, and anyone who's spent time with one knows I'm right, even if they won't admit it in polite company.)  I know that if we decided to go through that again, hormones would make me not even care (mostly), but still... it's hard to willingly sign up for possible death, definite boring torture, and no guarantee that the outcome will be as immediately rewarding.

9.16.2018

Tawny Highsun, Pt II

Part One Here
***

Tawny wasn’t sure how long she had before the sun set- there was no hint of gold in the light yet, but night came early during Festival.  She forced herself to her knees, then to her feet. She swayed, slightly. It’s the bloodloss, she thought, then pushed the thought away.  She took one shakey step forward, into the light.  She took another step and left it- and the creature- behind as she made her way deeper into the darkness.

They weren’t far, and for that Tawny was grateful.  She wasn’t sure how far she could have walked, given the circumstances.  As it was she leaned heavily against the cavern wall and counted the death-still figures.  Eleven.  I have to kill eleven more of them.  She fought back a sob.  But how?  I can’t drag them all into the sunlight.  I don’t have the strength.  Even as she thought it, her knees buckled, and she slid to the floor, wings scraping against the rock.

Wings…

Tawny almost cried out as the realization hit her.  She had wooden wings!  And what’s more, she had her whittling tools!  She pawed at the ribbon harness that held the wings securely to her torso, trying to keep her fingers steady as she unraveled knot after knot in the white satin.  At last the wings were free, and fell to the ground.

One wing had already been broken down to a stub, so Tawny angled angled the other one carefully, then put her full weight on it, causing it to break into two pieces held together by the silver inlay.  She pulled them apart, threw the silver to one side, and immediately began to sharpen the largest piece of wood. She was sweating, trembling with fear and effort and weakness, but this wasn’t fine carving- this was just had to be good enough- and soon it was.

If she hadn’t just conversed with the monster wearing her sister’s face, Tawny might not have been able to do it.  It’s not a natural thing, after all, to drive a stake through the chests of the little boys and girls that only yesterday you were feeding treats, especially when their eyes were closed, hiding the tell-tale spark of red.  It’s not a natural thing at all, and so Tawny wept as she did it, but she did do it, hating herself the entire time.

My fault, my fault, she thought, each time she pounded the wood through flesh.  The first stake broke into unusably small pieces on the eighth body, and she had to stop and sharpen a second, all the while praying she would finish before the sun set.

By the time the last creature was staked, Tawny felt numb in body and soul.

But he is still in here, somewhere, she thought.  And what was the point of killing these children- no, not children, these spawn- if she didn’t also kill the one who’d made them, who would surely make more?  Tawny turned back towards the room that had held her, that had held the light. How will I find him, she wondered as she stumbled towards it, when all the light is gone?  And how will I kill him, when I do?

The light was pure gold now, and had climbed high up the wall, well above Tawny’s head.  There would be no dragging the vampire into it now, even if she could find it.  Tawny’s eyes skirted around the pale lump that had been her sister, and ended up falling on the lost piece of her broken wings.  She moved to pick it up, turned it over in her hands to stare at the silver inlay she’d labored over. It seemed so foolish, now, the time she’d spent on those damn wings.  On the costume.  If only she’d spent the time learning to fight, to be fast and quiet and deadly.  She might have saved her sister, saved the others, instead of freezing in terror.  Instead of slaughtering them. Angry, she threw the wing at the wall, where it struck with such force that one end of the silver wire popped up out of its groove.

She shook her head to clear it.  Think, Tawny, think.  You have wood.  You have tools. What can you do?  She scrubbed at her eyes and went to collect the wing, but when she picked it up the wire bit painfully at her flesh.

The wire.

Tawny stared at it.  Would it be long enough to wrap around the vampire’s neck?  She felt excitement begin to bubble up, strangely sickening, as she pulled the wire free of the wood.  It might not be quite long enough on its own, but if she could tie it to the other piece… she hurried, hobbling, back to where she’d killed the spawn and rescued the discarded silver from the floor.  I’ll need a way to hold it without cutting myself…

It took longer than she’d expected, perhaps even too long, but Tawny tied the silver together into one long wire, and wrapped the ends around two of her longest chisels.  

It could work.  It has to work.

She had her weapon, but how was she to find the vampire?  Especially with no light?

The answer came to her on a draft, a sticky-sweet tang of copper teasing briefly at her senses.

Blood.

Tawny took a step down the passageway, then another.  The light behind her grew distant, grew useless, but the smell of blood grew stronger.

Please let it stay asleep, please let it stay asleep, Tawny prayed to the Queen of Angels who had supposedly founded Devas, to all the Angels of Heaven, to any and all light gods that would listen; please, please let it stay asleep.

Tawny tracked the thing by scent deeper into the darkness, until she could have closed her eyes for all the difference it made, shuffling tentatively across the floor, knuckles grazing the wall of the corridor.  She was shocked at how much her nose told her, at how much she could feel the solidity of the stone around her, the emptiness of the air.  She came to splits in the tunnel, and knew which way to go. She was so frightened she felt her insides were made of water, but still she followed the scent.  Better to die lost in the dark than die having tried nothing at all.

It seemed as though hours had passed when Tawny felt the cavern open up around her to a space larger than the one she’d awoken in, although perhaps it had been only minutes.  She stood frozen, loathe to step away from the now-familiar walls into that terrifying nothingness.  The smell of blood was so strong now that surely the vampire must be here, perhaps even watching her in amusement.  Shivering, Tawny sank down and began to crawl on hands and knees, ignoring the gumminess she felt coating the floor.  Small shapes she wouldn’t let herself think about littered her path, and she felt her eyes burn with the tears her body was too drained to produce.  And then she ran head-first into something that wasn’t stone, but was still quite hard.

Tawny sat back, heart pounding in her ears, waiting for a reaction, but when none came she stretched out trembling fingers to explore the object.  The grain of it told her it was wooden, but polished- a straight plank longer than she was tall, joined up with others in... a box of some sort? Her groping revealed that whatever it was, was sitting on a roughly-hewn table.  Tawny stood and found that the box it came up only to her waist. Expecting any moment to feel the vampire’s cold grip, she reached into the box and touched… dirt?

Tawny sank her fingers in deeper, until the dirt covered her first two knuckles and suddenly she was touching cloth.  She snatched her hand back with a gasp.

There was no reaction from what she now realized must be the creature’s coffin, so, heart roaring in her ears, Tawny put her hands in the dirt again and felt her way along the cloth she’d discovered.  It was covering a wrist, so she followed it up by touch to the elbow, to the shoulder, to the neck…

Tawny had expected it to take more force to cut the vampire’s head from its body, but the silver wire sliced through its flesh as though it were made of cheese, and the spine barely gave greater resistance.  The vampire never did stir. When she’d finished, Tawny sank back down to the filth on the floor, and stared blindly into the black.

***

Tawny woke dizzy and with excruciating pain in her… everything.  Her face was pillowed against her arm, which was stuck to the floor by substances better un-thought-of.  She sat up, feeling as though something had woken her.  Eyes open or shut made no difference, so she closed them, and listened.  She didn’t hear anything… but then, suddenly, she smelled something decidedly different from the blood that surrounded her.  Something cleaner.

Fire.

“Help,” she whispered, struggling to stand, panic rising in her throat.  “Help! Help!”  Her scream sounded pathetically small in this place, not like a scream at all, but suddenly she heard others screaming, and shouting, and then she saw a light reflecting down a distant tunnel, and she stumbled towards it.

***

The townsfolk of Devas hailed Tawny Highsun as a hero.  The search party found her limping towards them down a twisting passage, smeared with unspeakable gore and still clutching the silver wire she’d used to decapitate the vampire.  When asked what had happened, she led them mutely to its body, but when they asked her about the other children all she could do was cry and shake her head. The torn flesh of her wrists was evidence that the smaller children had never stood a chance against the monster, and the parents of Devas mourned- but they also celebrated the young woman who ensured they would lose no more children to the night.  They said that surely the Angels had put Their hands on Tawny, made her Their instrument of protection, and before the week was out ballads were already being composed.

It took nearly a month for Tawny to get her strength back, and all winter to get her smile back.  And even when she did, there was a reserve that hadn’t been there before; she spent more time alone than she ever had, and more time in the company of the town’s childless hunters.  Her parents weren’t entirely surprised when Tawny announced that she had decided to leave Devas before the new blossoms fell from the almond trees.

“I don’t know how long I’ll be gone,” she said, avoiding their eyes as she’d done since That Night.  “I just know… I can’t stay here, knowing there are more of those things in the world. I have to hunt them down, make sure that no more children are… are hurt.”

The people of Devas sent her off with great fanfare, thoroughly supplied for her journeys with weapons, food, and well-wishes.  The newly finished Ballad of the Silver Angel was sung, and tears were shed by many. Some of the children continued to wave until Tawny was out of sight- but she never once turned around.

9.15.2018

Building Up Mountains

I'm standing in the kitchen, washing dishes (as you do) and eavesdropping on my child (also as you do) tell himself wonderful stories.  There was a birthday party at preschool on Friday, complete with Goody Bags, and one of the items in said Goody Bag was a little thing of home made modeling compound (gee, thanks anonymous parent, she said with Serious Side Eye...).  I'd taken it away from TLG last night due to a Naughtiness Incident, but a new day brings new chances to Make Good Choices, and so I'd given it back to him when he requested it, along with strict instructions that if it left the table it would be gone forever.  (And he knows Momma Don't Play on this sort of thing.)  And so I am washing dishes and eavesdropping, and he is Telling Stories to himself using his dough.

"It's a mountain!  Oh no, the mountain is falling down!  The bad guys knocked it down to get it out of their way!  I'm a good guy!  I picked it up.  A  new mountain is growing!"  Etc, etc.  And I cannot help but flash back to The Early Days of TLG (when I still referred to him as Neeps, even), when I'd be washing dishes and he'd be laying in his swing like the Tiny Larva he was, and I'd wonder what was going through his tiny little skull.  I flash even further back to when I was pregnant, and having a conversation with Nathan about my Very Real Concerns regarding taking on a roommate for 18 years that we might not even like.

It turns out that I like him very much indeed, and I love hearing what's going on in his head.  We take walks together, and have actual two-way conversations.  This is my most favorite stage so far, but then I've said that about every stage.  I do hope this upward trajectory continues.

Tawny Highsun, Pt I

Confession Time: in the two plus decades that my spouse and I have known one another, I have never once been able to convince him to play any sort of RPG with me.  I've sorely wished he would, of course (what with me being a Second Generation Geek, and all), but I didn't really push it because who wants to play with someone who... doesn't actually want to play?  I'm not real big on acts Performed Out of Obligation, is what I'm saying.  I much prefer taking what is Freely Offered, and thus I had resigned myself to a lifetime of Not Gaming With My Lifemate.

But then- oh Gentle Readers, but then!  Last month we were having lunch with a couple of his friends who Game, and the three of us were bonding over it, and they said I was welcome to join them any time and in fact the DM had a one-shot he'd created but never used... and Nathan agreed to give it a try!  I tried not to shriek my glee, but I, uh... may not have succeeded at that.

Anyway, we're playing this upcoming Sunday, and for the first time ever I whipped myself up a Ranger.  The backstory I wrote (because I'm pretty sure I literally cannot create a character without also writing a Compelling Backstory) is nearly 3800 words long, so I decided to break it up a bit for you, especially since I'm spilling all this digital ink on the intro-to-the-backstory.

When constructing a Ranger you get to choose your "favored enemy" from a list, and when my eyes fell on the "undead" option I decided to initially pattern my character after Buffy Summers (hence the name Tawny Highsun).  She's nowhere near a perfect copy (nor is she meant to be) but it was a good starting place for creating a fun character, and it's why I chose to make her Human instead of a Half-Elf (which would have made more sense from a strategic standpoint but oh well).  I also chose the "Folk Hero" background for her, so I had to write something that would reflect that.  It's pretty dark as far as Defining Events go, although Tawny has not let it turn her into a Dark and/or Brooding Character.  I definitely look forward to playing someone with cheerful nature and unflagging optimism, in spite of her personal demons.  And I really hope that Nathan has a good enough time that he wants to repeat the experiment...

***


If the monster had not come during the Festival of Angels and Demons, they might have recognized it sooner.  But it did come during Festival, when everyone wears costumes, and no one thinks twice about seeing a twisted visage.  If the monster had not come during Festival, they might have realized their children were being stolen. But it did come during Festival, when children run wild in packs, often staying at one another’s houses and not returning home for the entirety of the week.  And so the children were taken, in ones, and twos, and groups, by a beast that walked casually through the crowds of men.
By the fourth night of the Festival, people had begun to realize that something was wrong, and by the end of the fifth day there was a decided panic in the air as parents ran from house to house in the waning light, hoping to find their littles ones.

The Highsuns, woodcarvers by trade and beloved members of the town council, were among those parents searching.  Not because their own children were missing- no, their own six were safe at home- but rather to provide moral support to their fellow townsfolk- and more importantly, protection in the form of greater numbers.  The Highsuns didn’t want to frighten their own children, so when they instructed their eldest daughter, Tawny, to keep the younger ones in the house no matter what, they didn’t tell her why. Instead they emphasizing that the youngest Highsuns had already had too much excitement, and needed to rest if they were to properly enjoy the final days of Festival.

At fifteen Tawny was generally a cheerful, obedient daughter, and she did her best to keep her siblings entertained as they whined about missing the penultimate night of Festival.  At long last, however, the younger children settled down and fell asleep- even ten-year-old Aurora, who worshipped Tawny and tried to emulate her in all ways, up to and including staying up late.  Once the last of her siblings’ breathing evened out into that of true slumber, Tawny (mindful that her parents had not told her to stay inside) decided to slip out and join in the Festival for an hour or two.

She put on her costume first- a flowing white gown fit for an Angel, with small but elaborately carved wooden wings fitted over her shoulders.  It had taken nearly a week to craft them, in between working on apprentice projects for her parents, and Tawny was extremely proud of her work. She’d have finished sooner if she hadn’t decided to add a spiraling pattern of silver wire inlay, but was hoping that when her mother saw them she would agree that they were worthy of journeyman status.  Tawny grabbed her tool pouch and attached it to her belt: in it she carried a variety of carved charms she could sell for a bit of spending money, and perhaps bring home a few pies as a breakfast treat for the other children.

Tawny was surprised by how quiet the streets were- strangely empty for a normal night in the town of Devas, let alone a Festival night.  It was an eerie, unnatural stillness, and it put Tawny on edge. The quiet was so complete that as she paused at the intersection of two streets, wondering if she ought to turn back, she heard a soft footfall behind her.  She whirled around just in time to see a flutter of white disappear around a corner.

“Hello?” said Tawny.  “Who’s there?” Heart thudding in her chest, she walked quickly back the way she’d come, hoping to catch one of her friends playing at being a Demon to her Angel.  But when she rounded the corner, she saw two figures, and only one of them was familiar to her; Aurora, eyes wide with terror, was being restrained by a man wearing a terrifying mask, one black-gloved hand pressed tightly over the child’s mouth.

“Let her go- you’re scaring her!” Tawny said sharply, and moved to retrieve her wayward sister.  The man smiled broadly at her, and Tawny realized suddenly that it wasn’t a mask at all.

***

Tawny woke dizzy and with an excruciating pain in her head.  She pushed herself awkwardly to a sitting position and found that her arms hurt, too- specifically her wrists.  The ground beneath her was cold stone, rough against the naked flesh of her shins.

“Wha-” she muttered, and found that her throat was parched.  She swallowed painfully, trying to bring the world around her into focus by blinking repeatedly.  Gray- and darker gray- everything was shifting shadows- until she noticed a lighter smudge out of the corner of her eye.  She turned towards it slowly, painfully, trying to make sense of what she was seeing, of where she was, of what had happened.  The last thing she remembered was the stranger’s eyes, glowing red and holding her still as a mouse before a snake.

The lighter smudge had moved closer to her, and Tawny realized it was a shaft of sunlight, home to a host of leisurely spinning dust motes.  A sudden draft caused a flurry of movement in the tiny dancers, and she followed the slant of the ray upwards to a small opening in the rock.

“You’re awake!” the voice was familiar and strange all at once, and Tawny’s eyes flicked to follow it to the darker corner beyond the shaft of light.  The voice, the beloved voice she’d never heard so cold before, continued with odd delight, “I knew you weren’t going to die!”

That voice- Tawny squinted into the darkness, willing it not to take recognizable form.  Willing it to be just her imagination.

“Au-” she started, but could not get her sister’s name out.  Her throat was too dry.

“I wanted you to be awake when I bite you again,” Aurora said conversationally.  “I didn’t want you to die never knowing what you’d done.”

“Done?” Tawny whispered, fighting nausea.  Aurora had- bit her? Is that what was wrong with her?  She looked down at her wrists and realized the source of their pain: both had raw wounds, as though an animal had worried them.  She flexed her blood-stained fingers and the pain flared up in response.

“You led me straight to the vampire!” Aurora laughed and stepped forward just enough for Tawny to see her, but still keeping her distance from the light.  “Your littlest sister! Mommy and Daddy told you to keep me safe, but instead you delivered me into the claws of a monster who snatched me up and drained my blood until I was white white white as a winding sheet!”  She did a little pirouette, her nightgown fanning out around her.  There was a dark brown spray across the bodice that hadn’t been there before.  Tawny’s eyes burned as though she was crying, but no tears came.

“It’s so silly the Angels dress in white, when really that color belongs to the dead,” Aurora said knowingly.   “Which means it belongs to me, because I’m dead, and it’s all your fault!”  She laughed again, clapping her hands.  “Anyway,” she added soberly, “your dress is nicer, so once I’m done with you I’ll have it for myself.  He said I took too much before, and that you weren’t going to wake up again, but you did!

Aurora crouched down and scuttled a little closer to Tawny, right up to the edge of the light, her movements strangely articulated, more like a spider than a little girl.  “Do you want to know what I’m going to do?” she asked, her voice breathless with excitement. “I want to tell you!”

Tawny shook her head.  What she wanted was to wake up from this nightmare, wake up and run into her parents’ room for comfort, wake up and laugh at the idea of her sweet sister ever speaking in such a cold, taunting voice.

“Mommy and Daddy will invite me in, of course.  They won’t be able to tell that I’ve changed! But they’ll realize it eventually.  I’ll kill Leaf first, make it look like an accident. Babies die all the time, have you noticed?  And oh, how they’ll weep for him! And then I’ll kill Dandelion and Buttercup. I’ll have to do that at the same time,” Aurora muttered, as though to herself, “because they’re always together and they might tell.  Mommy and Daddy will start to suspect then, and I’ll make sure they keep suspecting but never really know.  They won’t want to believe it, so they won’t!  Not until I kill Finchy. And then I’ll make sure to tell them you’re the reason I got changed, so they can die hating you, too!  Maybe I’ll tell Daddy that I’ll let Mommy go free if he just stabs himself… but then I’ll kill her as he bleeds out, so he can watch!  Won't that be wonderful?”

The child looked expectantly at Tawny, who said nothing.  A look of annoyance crossed the younger girl’s face, and she glanced over her shoulder, deeper into the cave.  “But I have to wait for him. He can’t wake up as long as the sun is up,” she rolled her eyes.  “He says someday, when I’m as powerful as he is, it will affect me, too, but not yet.  Not yet. So I have to wait. The others decided to sleep the day away, lazy things, but I knew that I should spend it with you, so that you would know just exactly what you’ve done.”

“...others?” Tawny choked.

“The other children, stupid.  We’re all going to go home tonight, with stories about playing hiding games and getting lost in the caverns.  And they’ll all let us in.  And then what fun we’ll have!”  She bared her teeth at Tawny, and Tawny saw that there was flesh caught between them, dried blood on the upper lip.

“Do you want to see how strong I am now?” it asked eagerly, moving closer still.  “I’m so strong.  I could probably even pick you up!  I could probably snap your neck, but you’d die too quickly, I think.  Come here and I’ll pick you up!”

Tawny looked the creature in the eyes, noticing the beginning of a red glow in its pupils.  How could I have thought that thing was Aurora? She thought, dimly.  Aurora is dead.  And this is what killed it.

Tawny didn’t think- she just lunged, grabbing at the creature, who seemed too startled, at first, to react.  That didn’t last long, and Tawny realized that it had been telling the truth- it was much stronger than Aurora had been.  But Tawny had already pulled part of it into that shaft of light, and now it was shrieking with pain.  Tawny held it there, limbs twining around it in a terrible parody of an embrace, held it until it stopped shrieking, until it stopped moving.  The smell of burning flesh and hair overwhelmed her, and she rolled to her side, dry-heaving.

Tawny lay there, face pressing into the dirt, for what seemed like a small eternity- but it couldn’t have been that long, because the shaft of light had barely moved.  She half expected the “others” to come, but no one did. It said they were sleeping, she thought, dully.

I’ll have to destroy them before they wake up.

***

Part Two Here

9.14.2018

Eurybia's Harvest

I'm gonna' be real with you guys: this year's 365 project has died on the altar of Starting My Own Business.  But I'm okay with that- I made real progress in the nearly 6 months that I stuck with it, and since that was the whole point... go me!  I'll pick it back up again in the future, when things calm down, but in the meantime I miss blogging, and I wanted to share with you one piece- a finished piece, no less- that I did between the last post and this one (not quite three months...  ::sigh::).

It was a commission for an old WFR buddy; he wanted something special for his wife's birthday, so we chatted for a while about her and her life experiences thus far (and his budget), and I came up with the following:
Eelmaid on a Mission
I am super pleased with it, and became even more so once he shared a photo of how he had it matted and framed, which, for some strange reason, I am unable to share.  Oh well you'll just have to take my word for it: it's awesome.  (Dark blue mat, distressed white frame)  No more excuses for not updating the blog!  Instead, here's a (redacted) artist's statement:

Eurybia's Harvest

When WFR FRIEND gave me some background on WFR WIFE so I could better create a piece for her, I knew almost immediately that I wanted pearls in the image, to represent her ability to keep going in the face of extreme adversity, and turn it into something amazing and beautiful.  Beyond that initial impulse, I took further inspiration from the Titan Eurybia, who is considered a goddess of mastery over the seas (an excellent representation of WFR WIFE's vocation in marine biology).  Moreover, Eurybia is described by Hesiod as having "a heart of flint within her", which struck me as a perfect metaphor for the endurance WFR WIFE's heart has had to show, both literally and figuratively.  The flint knife (used to harvest the non-nacreous scallop pearls) is a nod to that particular detail.

Titans are generally considered more "monstrous" than the traditional Greek pantheon, so I knew I wanted to do something not-quite-human with the portrait.  Mermaid was the obvious choice, but mermaid felt too conventional for a woman of WFR WIFE's eclectic tastes: thus my decision to represent WFR WIFE/Eurybia as an eelmaid.

The placing and number of the harvested pearls is a deliberate celebration of WFR WIFE's dissertation concerning the reproductive lives of scallops, and the adventures she had along the way to earning it.

***

So there you have it.

In unrelated news, I have a one-shot game coming up this weekend, for which I've created an entirely new character (a Ranger) and of course I've also written a little backstory for her.  I'll be sharing that in the days to come (as well as other tidbits), so hold on to your knickers: this radio silence is over.

6.26.2018

Wild Morgen's Core*

*(this is what auto-correct turned "Elf Mother Colors" into when I emailed the photos to myself.)

True to my word, I am well and truly back in the watercolor saddle, and feeling pretty damn fine about it.  It's been a really interesting project, in terms of forcing me to come face-to-face with my own shortcomings and growth edges (although it's been a pretty good year for that in general, I'd say) and tonight I realized that one of the most important lessons I've learned from this project is that it's okay not to be perfect all the time.  It's okay to play, to produce art for no audience but myself (::coughcoughshesaidonherpublicblogcough::) and to not freak out if it's not of a quality that I'd want it to be if someone were paying me.  Turns out I produce a lot more that way- and producing more means sharpening my skills faster, which means better products when I do create on behalf of someone else.  Which, while rare, does still happen on occasion...

But enough narcissistic navel-gazing.  On to the pictures!
Yep, this is the one you've already seen.  Just to remind you of what the stark linework looked like.
When I orginally dew this, all the way back in May, I was going for a Tolkien-esque elf vibe (as opposed to the Pini-esque elf vibe I usually channel), but a side of them we don't really see in the books.  We know they can have children, but we never really see them in that context- so here I come with my imagination and my pens (and my brushes)!
Honestly it was probably "good enough" after one night's colors, but I wanted to do more.
When I finished up last night, I knew that I'd allow myself one more night of colors, and then it would be time to move on to the next image.
The "finished" piece.
For what it's worth, I'm actually quite pleased with it (smear on her hand aside).  Okay, yes, I can pick it apart on several levels, but dang it all, I'm telling my Inner Critic to shut it, and just enjoy it for what it is, which is a pleasing little what-if portrait.

I'm excited to see what my brain spits out tomorrow.