mood music

I create a decent amount of music playlists for my own personal use for inspiration to get the mood of the comic how I want it, and have decided to share them. Feel free to click on the vibes link up top if this sounds interesting to you. At this point I’ve uploaded 8 of the over 20 playlists I have compiled, and will add more occasionally.

A Helping Hand

Part of a tooth came out that time. Ruyo’s hand smeared the splatters of his own blood on the gravel as he still kept trying to rise to his feet.
Bruised and scraped from the attacks of four separate pairs of boots. Hard to make out anything they screamed at him amidst the onslaught.

Wheres your fire, flamer??
She gonna rescue you now??
Robalem piss on such wastes of his name!!

He got the jist.

He hated everything about these effonos. Their stupid faces. Their stupid clothes. Their stupid– ridiculous– accents–

This stupid country! He hated it! He bit his lip in force as another streak of blood dripped to the ground. Ruyo looked the big guy straight in the eye as he smirked in defiance. He hocked a bloody mass of bile and let loose.

Square in the eye.

It wasn’t dark yet. Must not have been too long. Did he even really pass out? He remembered lying there for ages.
God, what an ache.

A few locals passed by in the distance, meeting him with hurried glances. None of the assholes even bothered to check him. Though labored, he climbed to his feet out of pure spite.

Gramma and Oliye both gasped as he limped his way into the tent. His younger cousin hurried off for a bowl of water and a rag as he painfully sat down on the floor to avoid getting the mats bloody. Would never hear the end of it from Gramma if he did. Thankfully, she was more concerned about him in this moment.

It didn’t take long for the truth of the encounter to make its way to the surface.

It’s true, Gram! It’s bad enough that I have to defend myself from those pissants, let alone you!

She sighed as she kept dabbing crusty blood off of his cheek. What a mess of a situation.

Language. …Ru, have you ever tried… well… mm. …not egging them on…?

He gritted his teeth and clenched his fists as he glanced all over in frustration. No one was on his side! Gramma put a hand on his shoulder.

All I’m saying… is there might not be anyone that could handle… the way you present.
You mean what I present.
Gram, you know what I believe! Oraq rose! But She is coming back! She can’t not care about her motherland when it’s in so much trouble!

Gramma looked to the side, silent.

It was Her home! She was a person too! How could she sit by right now? She can’t! There’s no– way!
…But do you have to tell every effono you see?
We know one person for certain who ascended in this life. Effonos know the call too. But they can’t handle it because She wasn’t Avato!

Oliye piped in with her gentle voice from the stool in the corner. It only sounded irritating right now.

They’re not ready for the truth, Ru…

He glared at her, furious nearly to the point of tears. She froze for a moment before scampering away, upset. Gramma would console her later…

Ru, you know the call of the Flame.
I know.
But we can’t expect… well. …Someone to carry us. On that road.
I’m not! I’m still… walking! I just want– I just… I only want Her to help us!

The old woman locked gazes with her grandson. He saw only pain and empathy in her weathered eyes. She sighed one last time as she looked to the floor.

Dear… if someone has found perfection… if they had just washed their hands… why would they stick them in the mud again?

He knew deep down Gramma loved him. But he couldn’t handle her right now. To him, his best advocate was throwing him to the wolves. He rose to his feet once more and calmly stormed out. She didn’t follow.

He didn’t care what anyone said. Oraq had to come back. She is coming back.\


And She’ll make them pay.


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Siovak’s Grand Chart of the World


For trillions of years we have walked this world, unaware of our past. In a trillion more, we shall walk it again. We now know it is the cycle of things. To unite the world under our banner as it once was – so it shall again be for untold ages to come. One color as our descendants again conquer the ages of trillions.

Sinii Kadal, first Envoy of the Renaul State, -306y


Widely known amongst scholarly circles, Arregur Siovak’s famous map has been proudly displayed in the Gold Annex of the Grand Chroniclorum since the reign of Didak II. Though battered by years, thanks to the Archive’s preservation efforts the chart is still vibrant enough to captivate the mind of thousands of hungry inquirers each annum.

For most, this is far more between the pillars than they will ever see in a single lifetime. Mankind will surely one day reach the heavens to see the world from this perspective, but until that day arrives, the great Siovak’s work is the best substitute.

Duplicates like this one have been penned since our forefathers rode mighty on the plains, but still demand a hefty price. For the commoner, such a lavish view of the world is honestly excessive.

Nearly seven hundred settlements are marked, and there is no doubt that Siovak traveled to many of them in the flesh. Indeed, many of these cities have reached a legendary status amongst Avatos, with only the most hardened and grizzled travelers hoping to reach them at all. But for even them, wars and hostility of the nations may relegate the grand chart as the only way to observe them, if they even still exist at all. The heavens know that man’s impact in a lifetime is brief and volatile, and no end of cities have been attacked and left to crumble in the sands of time inside our nation. Doubtlessly the same must be said of other peoples, even to the ends of the world.

Perhaps a more existential question is to how long this map will be accurate. Cities and borders are one question, but how much has even the land itself eroded and shifted throughout the cycle? Even since the penning of Siovak’s account it is difficult to quantify. Add the siege that a thousand generations of earthquakes, floods, and shifting rivers can inflict upon even the hardest stone. Even if the chart and generations of copies survive that long, who alive today can attest to their reliability? Will even the world itself fade away or be reborn before this cycle comes to a close?

Eventually, even Siovak’s seemingly immortal tome will likely fade to the ravishes of the cycle. Whether that happens in billions or trillions of years, whoever will become Siovak in the next iteration will surely muse over these same thoughts as well.


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All these things will be added: a study on scriptural work

Most of my daily schedule involves daydreaming, drawing, playing games, reading, watching videos, and being available for others. I do not include an 8-to-five job in that list. Wow, what a slacker. Right?

Much of my adult life has been scrutinized ad nauseum by both peers and elders, believing that what I do (and don’t do) is lazy, irresponsible, and in polite terms, useless. Money is not important to me, or even particularly relevant, nor is recognition. At risk of sounding snarky, this is not a common outlook. 

There have been seasons of my life where I lived for months and years with less than a thousand dollars at any given point, and yet I was never hungry or in danger and my needs were met. I was paying rent, buying food, and attempting to live in a way pleasing to the Lord (employed and unemployed) throughout that whole time. Is it absolute dumb luck that I have (time and time again, I might add) survived this long? Perhaps, but I know it’s due to something far less coincidental. 

I tend not to get so scripturally in-depth with these posts, but this is a subject I care very deeply about. Here is my fairly lengthy explanation why I personally do what I do and think what I think in the context of the Word. 

But the last thing I want is for this to just apply to me. God has made promises and commands about this topic to every one of us. He has graciously given me freedom in this area and He offers the same promises and power to all through His Son and the Spirit.

If you love Jesus and are also weary of your day-to-day tasks or miserable at your current job, I believe this is for you. 




Malachi 3:7-12

7 Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

“But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’

8 “Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me!

“But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’

“You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. 9 You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 12 “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

[Note: “put me to the test” in this context is easily reconciled with the seeming contradiction in Deuteronomy 6:16. One test trusts God, the other test does not. God wants your trust, your heart.

This passage really is scary stuff. “I’ll give when I have more stable income.” “It’s irresponsible to abandon our security like that.” “I work to support our kids.” etc. But he says if we don’t give back what He has given us that we have cheated him. 

Really, it’s all coming from a place of fear. What all these really ask is “Will my needs be met if I give up so much?” ]


Matt 6:19-34

19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

22 “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

[This part might seem incongruous, but it makes sense. Where is your focus? Are you focusing on earthly treasure? Are you focusing on God? Whatever you choose to focus on will spill over into the rest of your body, your life. (Luke 6:45) Consider the following verse]

24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

[Key here being ‘enslaved’. Is money your focus? (v22) Are you trusting in money to meet your needs?]

25 That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

[And this is my main point. Do we trust this promise at face value? Do we trust it with no asterisks, exceptions, or fine print?

But for the moment, put this thought on hold. Let’s study what the Bible has to say about work and our calling in life.]


Prov 18:9

9 One who is slack in his work

    is brother to one who destroys.

[We should work. Work even existed in paradise before the fall. But what is work in God’s eyes?]


2 Thes 3:6-13

6 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us. 7 For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. 8 We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow. 10 Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.”

11 Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. 12 We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living. 13 As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.

[Note that paul is silent on what specifics qualify as ‘work’. The goal is that you should love others by what you do, and becoming a burden to others (he mentions both financially and via meddling) is hardly lifting them up. He elaborates in 2 Cor: ]


2 Cor 8:11-15
11 … Give in proportion to what you have. 12 Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. 13 Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. 14 Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal. 15 As the Scriptures say,

“Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over,
    and those who gathered only a little had enough.”

[Again, the goal with our work is to love others (which glorifies God, matt 10:42). We need to give from what we have, and this surely goes far beyond only money. If everything is a gift from God (1 Cor 4:7), how could there be any distinction? But what do we have?: ]


1 Cor 12:4-30

4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. 5 There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. 6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. 8 To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. 9 The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. 10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. 11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 

[e.g. “Your role is not important. Do something else.” v18 he has put each part where he wants it!]

22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. [remember, 2 Cor 8:13] 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.

27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 28 Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church:

first are apostles,
second are prophets,
third are teachers,
then those who do miracles,
those who have the gift of healing,
those who can help others,
those who have the gift of leadership,
those who speak in unknown languages.

29 Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? 30 Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not!

[He then goes on to say that our ultimate goal is to love. Love God, love others in all that you do. This is what our work is! Those things that he made you able to do well, and he made you to do them well in order to love Him and others! Notice that money is entirely absent in this discussion of our work.
In Romans he says similar things: ]


Romans 12:4-13

4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. 

[etc, etc. Hardly an all-encompassing list. I note that he lists certain tasks (leadership and teaching) which many would consider suitable jobs, but others (encouragement, kindness), that many would not consider as valuable. But as said in 1 Cor 12:22 and Gal 1:10, value in human terms is not really relevant.

But what is the ultimate point of using these gifts?: ]

9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

[Again, the point is to love God and others in all you do. He will show you what your “gift for doing certain things well” is. (ask Him!)  Use these gifts. Use them to build up others! Otherwise we risk acting like the servant in the parable: ]


Matt 25:14-29

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 

[Note that since the master represents God, who is none of these things, this shows that the servant was afraid to use his gifts because he never really knew the master well. He was afraid his needs would not be met if he screwed up. I think of Matt 6:24]  

25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

[Invest what you have been given. He commands this. Whether that is money, time, ability, resources, talent, relationships, the list goes on endlessly. (and not what you haven’t been given, 2 Cor 8:12!) He didn’t condemn anyone except the one who didn’t even try. And why did the man not try? Because he was afraid. Afraid of punishment, afraid of his needs (financial or otherwise) not going to be met if he failed, who knows. But if we believe what God promised in Matt 6:33, why should we ever be afraid?: ]


Phil 4:6-7

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Prov 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;

    do not depend on your own understanding.

6 Seek his will in all you do,

    and he will show you which path to take.

Romans 8:1

1 … There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

[You cannot fail in Christ. The worst that can happen is you fall, scrape your knee, and he helps you back up. Nothing lasting.

If you believe that making money is the best way that you can love God and love others, then do it. If you think something else is the best way to love God and love others, then do that. He has given us each gifts for doing certain things well. Find what you are good at and do it

In conclusion, a passage that has become a mantra for my own life. ]


John 21:21-22

21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”

[Could I possibly be doing the right thing if others don’t do it? See also Gal 1:10]

22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.


As said in scuipture:
Do not be afraid. Trust him to take care of you.
Do not worry about what others may think.
Do what He made you to do.




Those Ancient Heights available in print!

i never like advertising but you never know, some of you may appreciate owning a print copy of the newest chapter. the longest one so far, yet again -o-

chapter 5 is coming soon. the timing will depend on how another real-life project pans out, but the plan is to finish the 5th chapter to conclude the first ‘arc’ of the story. after that the idea is to put all 5 books together in a trade volume and continue from there for the forseeable future.

take care all.

Pressing Questions

I thought aloud of the greater questions of life.

Kebo, why IS ambabo so salty?

A blank stare in response. I can sense the rickety wheels of my brother’s mind turning.

They put salt in it.

I shake my head, despondent. An unfortunately common occurrence in the presence of such intellectual deficiency...

Hmmm… Do they? Or is it just naturally salty? Are hababas salty?
They put salt in it.
I’ve never had raw hababas. Do they need to add salt to mute the taste? Are they bitter?
I dunno.
It makes you wonder why it is always salt that they add. Why salt, and not habecca or delbid or…
Just ask mom. She makes ambabo.
Ughh… don’t you ever wonder? It’s not about what they tell you it is or isn’t. It’s about… hm. …The joy of the hunt.

His mental wheels freeze. (Maybe they are turning backwards?) He shakes his head and resumes his menial task.

Man, can you just help me finish the dishes already?

A time will come when feeble minds will be ready for the most important truths. Until then, I will have to spend the essential pursuits in the presence of those fabled sages of the age.

Twinkling recollections

Darande the snake!
And that one?
Obel Yu the fat grung!
The one to the top? The tiny squiggly one.
…Uhhh. I don’t know.
That’s Elellu the lonely hunter. He hunts all day and all night for the emerald ludella. It used to be his betrothed, but she was hexed with a horrible curse. If he can catch her she’ll change back, but she’s doomed to run away from him because of her animal instincts. 
And that’s her right there, see? When he gets close she runs away. …But he keeps trying.

She paused for a moment in melancholic wistfulness.  

…One of these days, I hope.
Dobby grinned. Maybe he should turn into a ludella too!
I guess that would make it easier. Haha.

They giggled. Their breath formed plumes that faded away into the night air. It was especially cold tonight, but the canopy of lights was too much to resist. Hillilin put her arms around her daughter to keep them both warm under the blankets. Dobby hugged her right back.  

–Aha! That’s great though! You’ve been practicing.
Oryu told me some! 
Ahh. How many does he know?
Uhhhh I dunno. A lot.

Hilli smiled. Sometimes she missed being a kid. Oryu was a good brother. She missed her own brothers too. Not that she would have felt the same fifteen years ago! Dobby smiled back, ignorant of the nuances of a mother’s musings. 

What are stars made of?
Hm. Fire, I think.
How hot is fire?
Hm. I guess I don’t know. Hotter than a boiler I think. 

Dobby pondered for a moment.

Is the sun hotter than the stars?
Well. I guess it would have to be. It’s hotter in the daytime, you know. 
Yeah. It is a lot bigger… …Is the sun made out of fire too?
I guess I don’t know, sweetie. It might be. 

Minutes or hours came and went, not that it mattered much. They lie in silence, the trilling of night bugs the only company they needed.

I’m cold…
Me too. We can open the flap inside. 

The two jogged together back under the same blanket. The biting cold subsided as they ducked into the yurt. Dobby cupped her hands over her mouth and blew long breaths. A trick she was glad she knew. Mm. Warmer. 

“Hi, mom!” piped Oryu, busy playing some board game or another with the twins under the pulsing lamp. Hilli smiled sideways in confirmation. She glanced over to the pile of rugs in the corner that she needed to seam and sighed. 

The night was still young. Some things were more important. She joined Dobby in the middle of the floor, circular opening and laths of the yurt straight overhead.

Oh! I know that big curvy one! That’s Athaclem’s bow! And that’s his arrow shooting out of it… 

As her daughter continued to prattle off youthful wisdom, Hilli couldn’t help but smile.

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body shape studies 3

some people get a lot more extreme with shapes than I do. I’m not necessarily sure that’s a negative for me, but I do want to get more confident in going ‘all out’ than I feel like I currently am. motion in particular can be hard to be to exaggerate proportions.

harder still is making zany bodies fit compositionally in comic panels. I can tweak and pose my ‘comfort zone’ figures a lot easier than some out there designs. i’m sure practice is all that can help this. always trying.

more studies to come in the future, I’m sure.

Rest for the weary

“Right as expected came those caravans of the underlands. Myriad multitudes joined in tandem, driving their alien beasts to the sound of equally strange horns. Brightly colored robes of glistening purple, iridescent red, vibrant orange. The whole spectacle was almost payment enough. Our entire group stood in awe. It was beautiful.”
Livona the Wayfinder, -302y

He knew there were bandits. They’d all crossed the Yuralae valley and back nearly ten times. Never ran into any, but he knew they were here. He thought for sure they’d all been careful.

The welts on the back of his head still throbbed. The blunt end of a quarterstaff. Even after all this time it still hurt. Days. Weeks. Who even knew anymore? There was no sun to tell the time. No shimmering bands to light the dark nights. No stars to tell where they were headed. There was only the musty darkness, rarely pocked with a speck of that disgusting glowing mold on some distant wall – but they hadn’t even seen that in hours. Now there was only the endless rattle of the cart to keep them company as it waded through an endless rocky ocean.

His wrists were becoming calloused from the cords. Still raw. He rolled his aching shoulders for what felt like the two-hundredth time. 

Damn it all! Tarthar and Bako had to be feeling the exact same thing. He could barely even make them out under the dim blocklamp. Must there be a tarp on top of the cart? It made it even harder to see than it already was. Ugh… He sighed loudly and rolled his shoulders for the two-hundred-first time. He caught the brief glimmer in the eye of one of the two slavers sitting with them. He sensed the icy stare piercing through even the smothering blackness. 

Any attempt to pass the time with conversation led to more intimacy with the quarterstaff. The only ones allowed to speak were his captors, and even they said very little. Not like he understood what they said anyway. Mumbling gibberish. 

More hours. A frustrating blend of his mind racing and agonizing boredom. He nearly failed to notice that he could now– barely– make out his marks. The lights were slowly getting brighter. Another transfer? A city? He doubted it could be anything good.  

What did– racing– running? Running! Running!

It was a blur. A guard lost his focus, maybe a knot in his restraints slipped… a pure act of primal instinct. He bolted with all his might toward the almost-invisible slope. Running, jumping, rolling, falling… it made no difference. The blackness that he dreaded this whole time quickly became his only refuge. 

What of Tarthar and Bako? They were lost. They couldn’t– There was no way to… He would come back for… No. Any inklings of a thought were pushed away. There was no time. He raced with all he had.

The light faded slowly, imperceptibly, but eventually, completely. For ages all he felt was the ache of his legs, the sound of desperate pant after pant, and the taste of blood in his mouth. Sprinting became running. Running became jogging. His tattered right shoe finally abandoned him at that one jagged rock. Didn’t matter. Sweat stung his eyes. He closed them tight. Didn’t matter. How far must he go? Further. That was the only answer. It took every ounce of strength to put one foot in front of the other. He nearly stumbled again. Another jutting stone. Weak legs. No, come on, come on. Left. Right. Pant. Left. Right. Pant. Left. Right. Pant. Left. Right. Pant. Left. Right. Trip–

Searing pain tore him awake. His shouts of agony only escaped his mouth as pathetic whimpers. He was caught. His mind raced. Caught by… did they?– no– this was… no–

Cold, damp rock pressed against his face. Against his legs. Against both arms pinned tightly. He couldn’t even tell which way was up. He could barely breathe. His eyes grew wide as he realized his state. No light– No sound except his struggles. Nobody there– 

Every motion wedged him deeper into the crag. His gasps became terrified wheezes. Oh god. Oh god. Have to– need to– no, no, no! He roared. With all of his might he pressed against the grain to take in a desperate breath–

“Help! — Help me!”

There was no answer.

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Nations and shape language

been working on this for a while now. Since there are a variety of people groups and nations in the story, I am doing my best to work on making each nation have shapes (roughly) specific to them. not last airbender level or anything where “this country only wears red clothes”, but still. it’s a hard balance to keep in mind. at the very least, distinct clothing and silhouette elements that represent one nation I’ve been trying to keep separate from other nations.

Up to this point the comic has only covered a single nation, Allano. In hindsight, I probably should have limited the variety of their clothing, but you live and learn. That said, I am consolidating the core ‘essence’ of what the allanos wear and trying to differentiate it with the other groups. i’ve dabbled with the designs of other nations here and there but the past little bit I’ve really been trying to make a concerted effort to make things decently distinct.

In real life of course there is a lot of trends that carry on over the border, but sometimes it is necessary to limit that just so the audience can tell where the heck this character is supposed to be from. at the end of the day it is a loose guide and I won’t lose too much sleep if it isn’t an airtight system.

my main strategy is using designs I like the best on places where I will spend the most time and filling out the rest from there. everything is heavily subject to change as always. I choose to hold off on giving away too many details to avoid spoiling anything interesting later 😉