Jan 24, 2012

Art of my unlucky wizard

Unlucky, but I still like him. ;) Phillip is the main antagonist/protagonist/friend/foe in Meren's story, "Hidden Magic". I created a bio page for him, but I'll be adding the detailed character description later.

Anyway, this is an art post so onto the art!

Have I mentioned before that I love artsy presents? My very favorite kinds of gifts are handmade so it always makes my day when someone makes something for me. For Christmas my friend Niere (ya know, the super-talented girl who draws me the awesome character art I use on my blog?) offered to draw me something. I decided on Phillip since he's rapidly becoming a protagonist in his own right. I think she did a great job!

With him, I didn't have a clear mental picture of what he looks like. I can picture him now, as he looks after "Hidden Magic" and the magical mishaps, but couldn't picture him when he still looked normal, which was the art I wanted since my writing mostly takes place in his past. This is where it helps to have a talented artist friend; now I know what he looks like. ;)

When I gave Niere his physical description I realized, though, how similar in coloration he is to Cyneric and his brother. This turns out to not be a mistake; now I know where Cyn's family originated from and, in a weird, roundabout way, it gives me a heritage and extra background for a character I thought I'd developed fully. That's neat! (Or, as my fiancé says, he's "Evil Cyneric". Sigh. I can't seem to convince him that Phillip isn't actually evil.)

And I suppose here be spoilers if you haven't finished "Hidden Magic".

You've been warned. ;)

I made a plushie of Phillip during the summer that I haven't shared yet, but it's him post-"Hidden Magic", hence the spoiler warning. Here's that:
Phillip doll - D&D wizard

Phillip doll - D&D wizard

I'd thought about making him "normal", but I think the fact that I didn't have to give him hair in purple form was what decided me. That's always a step that takes forever!

Phillip does have something going for him, though. Despite absolutely hating the fact that he's now purple, not all hope is lost. He is an Illusionist so he can technically appear however he chooses... for as long as the spell remains active, anyway! Still, he wants to go back to being normal again, so we'll see. ;)

I'll be writing more about Phillip later this year; I'll be co-writing a story with my elf sister that tells of his past and his experience being apprenticed to a wizard who became an evil necromancer. Poor Phillip. He has to be the most unfortunate character I've ever written and that's some stiff competition!

Jan 13, 2012

Hidden Magic - Story, Part 10

Banner art by JackOfClubs (jack_spire on livejournal).
You can find the whole cover art here- JoC did a great job on it!
There's also a great mix/soundtrack that goes with this story- you can find that here.

Hidden Magic, Part 10
(Prologue, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,
Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9)

Meren continued south in a much better mood than she had been in. She would learn and do so quickly. She would get by fine without her brother's help. Now if only that mage turned out to be someone inclined to help a strange vagabond elf. Her smile faded as a thought occurred to her: what if the mage doesn't speak a language I do? This gave Meren a few minutes of panic before she recalled that her father had said it was a halfling village, as well. Even if the mage was not a halfling, someone there would be able to speak with her and point her in the right direction.

This conundrum solved, Meren traveled on almost cheerfully. It was a cool night, the moon was bright enough to see by, her brother would be safe with his own kin soon, there was the sensation of something brushing her arm... She jumped, yanking her arm away and twisting around to her right. Nothing was there. What the... She looked from side to side, but there were no trees this close to the river and her elven infravision wasn't picking up the glow of anything living in the area, either. When she felt it again, she almost let out a shriek and only years of training for silent scouting kept her from doing so.

Her heartbeat didn't slow until she heard a hoarse voice whisper near her ear. "Calm down, elf-girl. It's just me."

"Phillip? How? Where are-" she began to ask, then mentally chided herself. Magic, of course. "So that's how you got away from the clearing. I'm seriously beginning to think that you're following me around, you know."

"I think not… Alright, so this time I may have been." Now that she was paying attention to the spot to her right, she could see vapor rising about a foot above her head as he spoke. Guess he's still stuck with that, she observed as he added, "And I... er... did follow you back to your home."

"You did what?" Meren exclaimed, turning to glare at the spot she now knew him to be. "How many times do I have to tell you to leave the area? And could you please just make yourself visible again? I feel like an idiot talking to a cloud of smoke."

She heard Phillip mutter something under his breath, then he reappeared looking rather sheepish and from what Meren could tell through her night vision, still somewhat discolored. "Six, I would guess. But before you say anything else, you didn't seem too upset when I knocked out those orcs and put out that fire."

"So that's what happened? I should have known," Meren tried to glare at him, but found that she couldn't and felt dangerously close to smiling at the annoying human. "I suppose I should say thank you."

"Always a pleasure to help a woman in need," he replied with a smirk. Meren snorted, which didn't seem to take away his strange good mood. After a moment, however, he turned serious again. "If you don't mind me asking, elf-girl, what happened back in your … town? Encampment? Whatever it's called? Why are you going south and the centaur back into the forest?"

Well, there goes my good mood, she thought. But what was the harm in telling him? He'd probably just tag along, annoying her longer if she didn't. "East. I'm only going south until I can cross the river. My kin learned of my magic- thank you for throwing yours in there because they now think I have even more than I actually do, by the way- and they sent me off to some sort of mage in a town to the east. Kryro is going north to find his kin." There, that was vague enough, right?

Phillip's dark eyebrows wrinkled. "A mage? But I'd thought you were already trained."

Meren stared at him blankly. Why would he think that? "No, never. I can do magic, but my father thinks that a mage can help me not set things on fire."

The human shook his head slowly and gave a short, low whistle. Finally he said, "Hearing that, you do need to find a master. If you can do magic like that on your own, setting the forest on fire may be the least of your worries, Meren."

Being called by her real name for once made the elf realize that the man was serious, but a statement like that was downright terrifying when she'd already been fretting about her lack of control. Phillip tugged at the frayed hem of his sleeve and Meren got the impression that he was thinking hard about something. After a minute or two, he said, "I didn't mean to frighten you, only to give a warning. Just make sure the mage you find is a good one. I don't mean good as in 'competent'... well, I do, I suppose, but what I meant was someone who is a good person." His raspy voice grew quieter as he added, "Believe me, this is important."

As he spoke this, Meren recalled his earlier paranoia. She nodded; clearly he was trying to warn her away from his experience, whatever it was. "I will. But where are you going? More … things aren't following you, are they?"

He stared at the staff in his hand, studying it for a few moments, then glanced behind him. The wood elf was about to ask her question again when he answered softly, "I hope none are. And I don't know. I was going west, but how can I go home looking like this?"

"Wouldn't that be the best time to go home?" When the man looked down at her, confusion evident on his purple face, she explained, "If they're your kin, they won't mind who you are."

"As yours so readily accepted you?" His hoarse voice was bitter, but Meren didn't think he was actually directing that sharpness at her.

The wood elf frowned as she realized that he had a point. A rather good one, actually. "Alright, bad example, but you have to go somewhere you can be safe for a while." After saying so, she realized that she meant it. Despite the human's irksome tendencies, she truly didn't want those horrible things coming after him again. Drat. Chalk it up to that healer nature, she mused to herself.

An idea occurred to her: I don't really need this and I think it has something to do with magic... She reached into her pouch where she'd stuck the pendant earlier that day and pulled it out by the chain. "Here, take it back," she said simply, holding out her vine-patterned hand.

Phillip stared at the slightly luminous purple object for a long moment, then shook his head. He looked down at Meren and in the dim light she saw in his dark eyes an emotion she couldn't quite read. Is that concern? Before she could figure it out, though, he looked away again, but took her free hand in his for just a moment. "Take it with you, elf-girl. If the master you find is worthy, show it to him. It may help you. Otherwise, keep it a secret."

Meren could only nod dumbly, completely bewildered by his words and actions. This was the same person who had been a thorn in her side for years? Why was he being so helpful? Seemingly satisfied by her mute agreement, Phillip gave her a small smile. "Good. Stay safe, Meren."

His words echoing those spoken so recently by her brother left Meren even more speechless, and it wasn't until he'd walked out of sight westwards that she realized that she hadn't asked him why exactly he'd turned purple in the first place. As she walked across the stone bridge, she shook her head. If you couldn't trust your own curiosity, what could you trust? She couldn't help smiling to herself as she mentally answered her own question: spells to frequently be chaotic, a brother who always wanted to protect you and a human wizard to be dependably unpredictable. Now if only she could get that first one to function properly and the last two to realize that she could perfectly well take care of herself...

The End

Jan 12, 2012

Hidden Magic - Story, Part 9

Banner art by JackOfClubs (jack_spire on livejournal).
You can find the whole cover art here- JoC did a great job on it!
There's also a great mix/soundtrack that goes with this story- you can find that here.

Hidden Magic, Part 9
(Prologue, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,
Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 10)

The young wood elf was broken out of this reverie by a shouted "What did you just do?" right behind her. Meren yelped and almost dropped her bow. Turning around, she saw the scout leader standing with her hands on her hips. Behind her was Eryndir and Meren wondered how much he'd seen.

The young elf was torn. Did she explain or deny what she'd done? Maybe she could pass the globes of light off as swamp gas... in the middle of temperate woodland. And the fiery attack she'd thrown... Meren cursed silently under her breath. There just wasn't a lie that could work to explain this away. As she begun to stammer an answer, her father spoke quietly but confidently, "That was magic, was it not, Meren?"

Knowing she had no other choice but the truth here, she could only nod. Tawarthel stepped back, her brown eyes narrow. "Magic, Eryndir? But the shaman should have caught any arcane potential-"

Eryndir locked eyes with his daughter who looked down at her feet. "Not necessarily," he answered, not looking away from his daughter, "Not if Meren's is a different sort."

"A different sort? How can there be a different sort?" the scout leader eyed Meren as though the young elf was something repugnant, "Unless her mother..."

"Was simply a healer," Eryndir quickly finished, clearly trying to nip that thought process in the bud, much to Meren's relief. He then asked the young elf, "But why did you not tell?"

Meren's answer was to glance over at Tawarthel. "Because of that reaction. I know elves shouldn't be able to do what I can."

The older woman crossed her arms over her chest. "See? She admits it. Eryndir, you must send her away. We cannot have that kind of magic being hurled around, alerting outsiders to our location and setting our home on fire."

Meren had been about to retort that that kind of thing hadn't happened before when her brother stuck his hoof into his mouth instead. "She did not mean to do that, sir," he directed at Eryndir, "She has never done anything harmful to the woods before."

Except for that time I created a pit, Meren thought to herself as the two elders turned their attention to the centaur, who shied backwards at their mutual stare. "You knew of this ability?" the scout leader demanded, putting an emphasis of contempt on the last word.

Now Kryro seemed to realize his mistake and opened and closed his mouth a few times before speaking again. "... Yes? I thought it would be better not to share that knowledge..."

Eryndir did not look happy, but Meren thought she saw more disappointment than anger on his face. "Meren, Tawarthel is right." The scout leader smirked at this as he added, "We cannot have you hurling fire around, even if you were able to put it out again." For a moment, Meren thought of explaining that she hadn't in fact done as much, but quickly realized that explaining that she had no idea how the fire had diminished would do little to help her case.

"I would not allow an untrained archer who knows not how to aim to scout, so a mage destroying our trees I cannot allow here, even if she is my daughter," he continued. Meren could feel her face turn white, as though all the blood in her body was draining into her overly large feet. This rose slightly when his next words were, "No, not forever, Meren; just until you have what you wield under control. There is a village of halflings and humans to the east where I know a wizard resides. You must go to her and see if she can help."

As Meren tried to make sense of the fact that it sounded as though she were being exiled, the tribe leader spoke to Kryro, "I need you to alert your tribe that there may still be intruders in the area. Go with Meren as far as the river, then find your kin. Likely they shall need your aid more than we at the moment."

The young scouts both bowed their heads in acknowledgment, but neither were pleased about the tasks set before them. We are his kin, Meren thought to herself as they walked to her tent to retrieve the rest of her scant belongings, and he's a warrior, not some errand boy.

The centaur remained oddly silent until they were a few miles away from camp. Finally, as they were weaving their way through the last outskirts of trees, he spoke up again, "I am sorry I said that, Meer. Perhaps if I had kept my mouth shut, you would have been able to stay."

Meren shook her head. "I don't think that would have made a difference. Even if I'd been allowed to stay, Tawarthel would have found a way to convince my father that I was a danger and I would have been sent off anyway."

"You do not know that-" the centaur began.

"Even if not, they do have a point, as much as I hate to admit it. I am a danger, 'Ro." When she saw her brother shake his head and look about to interrupt, she continued, "I am. Sometimes my spells work but when they don't, they really don't... and the thought of burning through my home has me terrified."

"Why worry of that? You stopped the fire before it could spread," he pointed out.

Meren looked down at her hands, then let them fall to her sides. "No. I didn't. The fire did go out, but that wasn't from me. I couldn't even cancel the lights I accidentally placed above camp. Even if some spells do work, I don't know enough of how to stop them if they get out of control. I am a threat, 'Ro."

Kryro still didn't look convinced. "But with even the magic you have, it could be used to protect the camp. No one else can throw jets of flame at an enemy."

Meren sighed; for all that the centaur had been uncomfortable with her new skill to start, he was now the one always pushing her to use it, but he couldn't know what it was like to have that sort of wild power... "That's actually fortunate. Trust me, this is for the better. If that mage my father spoke of can help me get this under control, then I can come back and use it to guard."

"And if she cannot? What will you do then?"

"Leave and find another mage who can help." The look on her brother's face made her heart sink into her stomach. He was clearly worried about her and if she was any judge of the person she knew best, he was beating himself up inside for not being able to help her out of this dilemma.

She looked up at him, meeting his eyes. How could she convince him when she was somewhat worried herself? "I'll be fine. I promise. If this town doesn't work out, I'll come find you and you can help me locate a different mage, okay?"

The centaur looked as though he was going to complain about this plan, but finally just nodded slowly. Meren thought for a moment that she'd accidentally set off that mind control spell again, but the lack of energy surging through her hands disproved that. No, he just trusted her, which was a far better reason, but if anything it left her feeling even worse.

The two continued on in thoughtful silence until they'd reached the water. In the dim moonlight Meren couldn't see the bridge spanning the Moon River, but knew it to be just south of where they stood, having frequently used it to reach the woodlands on the other side. "Go on, 'Ro. You need to spread word like my father asked."

The centaur remained still for a moment, making her wonder if he was going to demand she let him follow her, but eventually he said, "Alright. I still do not like this, but I seem to be outnumbered in this decision." He reached down to squeeze Meren's shoulder. "Stay safe, Meer. And when you reach that mage, please do try to not hurl fire around too much. She may be more inclined to help if her home is not burned to the ground."

He spoke those words seriously, but Meren knew when he was teasing her. She stuck her tongue out at him then smiled, "Oh, alright. If you insist. I'll stick with the boring magic. Maybe I can find a way to summon butterflies instead."

Kryro smiled back at her, then after another squeeze to the elf's shoulder, turned and trotted off to the north.

The next part can be found here.