Concept Art and MORE

Explaining why I’ve been lax in my activity would be boring and egotistical, so I’m going to jump right in and get to stuff people might actually wanna hear.

I’ve been working a lot of the 99 Cent Novella project, in particular focusing on two characters. One, a barbarian half-orc, and the other, a human Warrior Shaman. Anyway, I’ve been writing a novella where these two team up to smack the shit out of a powerful Infernal (picture evil, demon-like creature). Then, on a whim, I decided to get a little artsy fartsy and sketch Gruun’s face:

Gruun.ConceptArt_99CN

No nonsense motherfucker, right? Anyway, he and Thas (the Warrior Shaman) are fighting a being calling itself Sycahiss: a creature that not only has an unsettling appearance, but is also a master of decay, death, and necromancy. It is an Infernal that can tear a hole into our world through the agony and pain of those sacrificed in its name. Like a moth to the flame, the beast is drawn to such profound pain and misery, and when the veil finally pops, Sycahiss takes form as. Well…take a look:

Sikahiss.ConceptArt_99CN

See that little face inside its chest? This Infernal is not as powerful as one might think. Once Sycahiss is ready to enter the material plane, he latches on to a human infant (provided by its cultists) that he keeps inside of himself. Sycahiss draws from the life energy of the child, aging the human without it ever getting any bigger. When the child is used up, Sycahiss must find another, or he will not be able to maintain his corporeal form. Also, his cloak is just a load of bullshit. Here’s a piece of concept art that details one this vile creature’s many captives:

SikahissThrall.ConceptArt_99CN

But that’s not all. Basically, Sycahiss is summoned upon a mass grave. Hundreds upon hundreds of people are tortured, killed, mutilated, and thrown into a large pit by his fanatic cultists, who will eventually add their own bodies to the pile. As Sycahiss emerges into the corporeal realm, he rises up out of the dead, and then rallies these unhallowed creatures to do his every command. Each one is different, but all are savage, mindless, and disease infested- all working as one via telepathic command from Sycahiss. Basically, this Infernal is a miserable and disgusting defiler, searching to spread misery and destroy lives, but unwilling to soil its own hands if unnecessary. Naturally, Thas and Gruun had to stand in its way.

Alright, I think that’s enough for now. I’d like to post some more about the races and creatures of Melias (the world where all my 99 Cent Novellas take place for now), describing what they are, and posting more concept art. I’ve been away from my craft for too long, and I aim to place my heart back where it belongs.

 

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Obsession with a Character

Mental health has always been an area of cloudy self-misdiagnosis and a constant drain on my own personal energy and willpower for me. Depression, anxiety, blind anger. They are all my friends, and I have them with me every day. No matter what I do, no matter where I go, they are always there.

Different emotions manifest themselves in different ways for different people. My defense mechanism is immediately to go into fantasy. Push out the non-fiction, and fill the empty space with stories of my own choosing. Lately, the feeling of stagnation has permeated into my life, but it is one that is unguided and without reason. Typically, I can hone in and solve my own problems, but I am not one who will deny help.

Gruun, one of the characters from my 99 Cent Novella project, has currently been my focus of obsession. Having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder already makes me predisposed to latching on and never letting go, so. Writing and fantasy kinda just…fell into place as I battle my brain.

I focus on Gruun because he is what I want. He is what I need. A force of unstoppable nature, an immovable forward moving object. Regardless if you know what the fuck I’m talkin’ about or not, let me be plain. This character is a literal manifestation of my own rage and body insecurity.

He is massive, muscled, and brutal- kind, compassionate and patient, he is the balance of fury and civility. Acting in the real world like a normal person can be difficult (is everyone merely acting?). Can be? No. Is difficult. For me at least.

Normal. There’s a word that I despise. It’s a label that follows the same mantra as generalized testing inflicted upon children in “schools” all over the world. Who the fuck makes the rules for normal? And why do I have to follow them? Why do you?!

Because there is no real normal. It is a label.

Obsession rocks and reels with you, waning like the tide. Sometimes, you are up to your ankles, and sometimes your buried neck deep in the sand, struggling for air as the tide collides into you over. And over. And over. And over. And over. And over again.

There is a freedom in directed brutality. I’ve never been a believer in simply spitting out anger and harming anyone or anything in my way. So as this builds up, it festers. The anger builds first, and then frustration afterward at the fact that you cannot simply purge this fury from your body. As stress and these feelings build, they must be released. And anger is best released on yourself or inanimate objects.

Writing is in act of masturbatory masochism that is rewarding and soul crushing. I turn my anger inward so it can only hurt the person responsible for it. It sits in me, a little black hole. My own personal abyss, pulling me on top of myself, collapsing. Gruun is that release.

Hatred piled on top of the frustration and rage seeps downward like grease, soaking the whole godamn mess, making it worse. Depression and self loathing is the dark fog which clouds the entire scene. And guess where you are? At the bottom, clawing through, looking for the light in the fog.

Whenever I am sad, rage is the first emotion to burn through the fog. All my emotions converge into that rage and create a multi-faceted confusion prism of human emotion that is almost impossible to direct or hold on to for a long time. To awaken such rage, writing is an outlet that often drags me out of the shithole and sits me back high on my own big ol’ pile of fuckin’ bullshit.

But with that anger driving me, slurping down all the bullshit becomes palatable when you don’t care about what you swallow.

I’ve never felt numb. I can’t- and this isn’t a statement of pride but fact: I need to feel. More specifically, I need to feel rage. The process of inflammation, reduction, and retribution associated with my  twisted mental jungle gym concept of my own consciousness. As the anger surfaces, so does the writing.

Gruun, Spek, Alistar, Thas. They are all facets of my rage personified. Every character I create is a bloody chunk of my own fuckin’ meat, raw and vulnerable. It’s my job to toughen them, and to toughen myself. What’s in a character? If you have any skill or common sense, the first thing in a character should be a piece of yourself. Rage is the first emotion I turn to.

Yours?

 

Living in Constant Fantasy

From time to time, I feel as though I am just fabricating an intricate scope with which to view my world in a hue of constant fantasy.

Writing is the obvious outlet. So is art- it is all relevant. Not just to me, mind you.

Reality can be a harsh pill to take. Often, it’s taken as a suppository and forced into your life’s rectum with a cold, ungloved hand. I am well aware that reality also hurts, and can be boring at times. I think that’s why I write. Or at least that’s part of it. I write because I am bored of reality, and I want to create a new one to fuck around in. Last time I checked, I didn’t possess world-altering powers, so I guess writing and drawing will work. Perhaps there are others like me out there. I’d sure like to think so.

I finished the first novella in the Warrior Shaman series, and I’ve been anxious to continue on to the next chapter, but I find my mind disjointed and distracted. I feel like I have to scold my own brain like an unruly child. But no matter- sooner or later it all comes out. I drew a few weapon concepts for Thas, the Warrior Shaman. He utilizes a short sword and an axe, but they are no ordinary weapons. Here’s some art of his sword:

Thas_SwordConcepts

 

I wanted to create something simple, sharp, and easy to use- making it truly deadly in the hands of a master like Thas. It’s not just any sword, either. Of course it’s magic. This sword is made of singing steel; it’s a magic alloy made from iron, carbon, stone, and salt water. It’s created through gravity and intense fire magic, forged for decades in the most extreme heat and pressure, using complex alchemical powders and tars. Magic must also be used to shape the blade; mortal tools simply break, or catch fire. It is forever keen and unbreakable, and its tip is so sharp that it whistles through the air like a whip, but at a much higher pitch. Here’s a close up look of just the sword:

Thas_SwordDetail

 

He holds this weapon in his left hand. The right wields a special axe, also made from singing steel. The handle, however is made from an unbreakable portion of wood from the massive Tree of Hope- which can be seen from almost anywhere on the entire planet of Melias. Here, take a look at some concepts:

Thas_AxeConcepts

 

Sorry it’s bleary…I forgot to draw larger so I could scan it. I kinda got caught up in the moment. Anyway, you’ll see three sharp lookin’ things attached to the side of the axe head. Both sides, actually. These ridges are collectively called a bone wedge. By use of strength and the might of singing steel, this axe will cleave directly through bone, much like a wedge and a piece of fresh splitting wood. If it gets stuck going in, the design always allows for it to be pulled it out with little effort, never letting it get paralyzed in a skull or breast bone. This axe is made to fight with, period. Here’s a detail piece:

Thas_AxeOnce again, I apologize for the shitty quality, but I’m not drawin’ this fuckin’ thing over again. Anyway, I wanted to give him two different weapons because they allow for more options in combat for Thas. He can parry with the blade,  hook and manipulate limbs with the axe’s lip, hack through limbs, or run people through. Thas deals death equally for all.

I don’t know what drove me to draw these two pieces to be honest. I haven’t posted art on my blog for some time now, but something just struck me to do it. Which brings me right back to the main concept of this entry- living in fantasy.

I draw because I can’t create. I tell stories because I cannot make another world. Without the outlet of writing and art, I fear all of my ideas (good and bad and neither) would simply blend together, and I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart anymore. In fact, my grip on reality is based on how long I can steep myself in fantasy per day. But don’t get me wrong- my life isn’t so shitty that I have to spend it all in a hopeless meandering daze, constantly in fantasy. No, it’s more like…free therapy. As much as I love telling/writing/whatever stories just because I find it really fun, it’s nice to get some of these fucking things outta my head and onto paper so I don’t obsess over them in my mind.

Perhaps writing is just my way of coping with a life that can be really boring on occasion.

 

Warrior Shaman Flash Fiction

“So you’re the best fighter in the world, huh?” Definitely sneering, but somewhat…placid. Thas decided to indulge him. 

“No, I’m not.” Thas continued his stare into the mug of ale before him.

The stranger at the bar looked puzzled. “But, are you not a Warrior Shaman? Those, those whirlwinds of death and nature?”

“Yes, I am.” Thas looked into the man’s eyes. He knew the storm cataract was glowing, but the stranger didn’t seem to mind at all.

“Then you have some explaining to do.”

Thas looked up, blinked once. “There was a time when I fought an especially fierce knight. Exhausted, I had not the strength to call to Melias, and I had been bested in martial combat. I stood before him, disarmed. I looked him in the eye through his helmet’s visor and simply stated, ‘I forgive you.’ And I awaited death. Hands palm out, down at my sides.”

The stranger leaned in, baffled and amazed.

“The knight stood, saluted me, and sheathed his weapon. He bowed once, turned, and left the chamber where he had cornered me. I never saw him again.”

The Golemborn

Mortality is a noose that tightens a little bit every day until the trap door beneath your feet sends you to your fate. A harsh reality. Many people try to stop the flow of time’s tide through numerous methods. Plastic surgery, medicine, drugs, lotions, creams, cryogenics. Failing that, mortals will often try and make themselves remembered through deeds, bodies of work, or other types of intangible branding.

We all have plans. We all have a life that we want to do so much with, but we have an hourglass jammed into our spine that we can never forget about. What if your plans were so grand, your life purpose so monumental- you needed to be immortal? Or maybe slightly immortal? There are many different reasons for people to consider immortality. Noble or cruel, cosmetic or genuine.  It’s not always just because a person doesn’t want to die, you know. With that in mind, I introduce you to the Golemborn.

Golemborn are elemental hybrids, binding with a living organism to augment that being. Say a wizard is close to death, but his life’s work is still incomplete. He may elect to reach out to an elemental, which is a being composed of simply one…thing. It varies of course. Earth, fire, wind, water, the usual. But what about wood? Stone? Blood? Metal? Fear? Think about it. Anyway, the wizard elects a stone elemental lets say, and strikes up a deal with this being. Whatever that deal may be, once agreed upon, the elemental bestows a portion of his life force into the wizard, and effectively extends his life by several hundred decades.

However, there are side effects.

The wizard will now bear deformation. Which parts of the body depend on the type of pact and what the wizard wanted out of the deal, or the cruelty/mercy of the being they are dealing with. Sometimes the living body can become living stone, or have portions of skin convert into stone.

Internal organs may also be converted into living stone, making this human wizard a completely different organism that is unique in every way- no two Golemborn are the same because the personalities of no two elementals are the same. And depending on what the living being wishes to accomplish with this newfound immortality, different parts of the body are affected to facilitate the living being’s goals.

I’ll post some concept art in the future. In the meantime, think about what would make you want to be immortal. The answer may surprise you. The concept of this post is to highlight my works of fiction, yes. But the concept of a Golemborn is very interesting to me. What would you do with immortality? What would you dedicate your life to? Golemborn know the answers to these questions. Do you?

Warrior Shaman Flash Fiction

Thas stood in the bar indignant. He hated the stink of them. The people crowding around, hunched.

Stale beer, old wood, glaring eyes. A thug looked at him as they stood nose to nose. A snicker behind him. A drooling grin on the thug. A flash of silver in his hand. They didn’t know what he was. All they knew was that he was a Spellslinger.

That knife blade drove home into his gut, the thug grinning still, but it soon faded. Thas held on to his attacker’s wrist, holding the blade in place. He tried to withdraw, put panic made him frantic and easy to manipulate. Thas stood in the shadows of the bar, the torchlight flickered once, and the thug shrieked in terror at what he saw.

Two tiny blood orange dots of light where this monster’s eyes should be, hidden in the shifting darkness of his hood. Thas leaned in slowly, the expression of childlike terror comical on his attacker’s wizened and heavily scarred face. Finally, the coward made eye contact with Thas. The bar was silent as they waited for his words.

He released this victim, who fell to the floor, dropping his knife which slid several feet away. The thug scrambled backwards towards the exit, scooting back on his ass. Thas advanced, never speaking, blood pouring from the wound in his stomach, his eyes still glowing, trained on the thug. His wound’s blood flow has slowed to a trickle. Thas looked down at the thief, who had clearly wet himself, but not a single soul was laughing.

Thas stared down at this attacker and growled, “run.”

A brief clamor, sounds of panic and hurried feet. It wasn’t long until he found himself alone in the bar, standing in silence.

He didn’t smile.

Sample Chapter: Path of the Warrior Shaman

I know I posted what I thought to be the first book in this series of novellas a while ago, but I decided that it was more of a second piece to this character’s life, rather than the first. Instead, I decided to create a novella with the Warrior Shaman, Thas (I finally named him), going through all the training and education that is required of an individual going through this whole…process. Journey?

Anyway, here’s a select piece that I feel fits very well with the personality of Thas, and what it means to be a Warrior Shaman in his mind. This has been lightly proofread, but not edited yet, so there might be suck in there, or things that don’t make sense. Anyway, here’s the section:

Path of the Warrior, Book One

Copyright Will Truex – The Disfigured, 2013

————–|

…Thas felt the agony of Melias all at once.

His mind was flooded by negative thoughts, pain, anguish, confusion, terror. The voice came from beyond to guide him. He heard screaming, words, chaos. He felt panic, grief, and despair. You are feeling the pain of every living being on this planet. Grass blade to dragon, you know it all. This is the greatest burden you will bear. But it will give you great insight if you can weather it.

Tears streamed down his cheeks as he wailed in the hopeless inky soup of consciousness. Visions accosted him, seeing firsthand the last moments of life through another’s eyes. He saw a lamb, and could hear it bleating. He felt its confusion and fear as it was being dragged away from its mother. Thas felt the submission of the lamb accepting that he cannot resist his captor.

Thas watched in horror from inside the lamb as her captor opened a nearby barn door. The buzzing of flies and the stink of stale wool and fresh blood was overwhelming. The lamb looked around at her surroundings, seeing a pile of heads. Lamb heads. She knew some of the faces, recognized some of the smells. Some of them where her brothers and sisters. More confusion, as her captor left. Terror refreshed as she approached the heads, smelling death. When she turned around, the farmer had a knife in his hand.

He approached and she bleated furiously, not understanding why he didn’t understand her. She kept wanting to know what was going on. Where her mother was. What was wrong with her brothers and sisters. Begging to know. The farmer grabbed her by the mouth to silence her tiny bleats. She tried to resist him, but he was too strong.

Pain, fresh terror, warmth as the blade entered her neck. He tossed her to the side, and she felt all her blood pour over her chest and legs. The last thing she saw was the farmer’s boot crushing her eye, and then felt pain as he held her down. There was one more sharp bite of pain, one more panicked cry, and then she was gone.

Thas returned to the Catacombs, but he could still feel the twisted pain of Melias channeling through him. The spirits whirled around him, screaming in fury.  Melias is sick, Thas! She needs help! WE. ARE HER PROTECTORS. Another vision approached.

He was a stray dog this time, being beaten by children in the street. Once again, terror, confusion, pain. He felt their angry little feet pelt his frail body, bruising his flesh and cracking his bones. The stray fell to the ground, crying miserably. It was all he could think to do. He kept wanting mercy, he kept wanting to know why he was being hurt, he didn’t understand.

When the children were finished, the stray ran off and hid under a building’s porch. Thas knew the poor dog’s fate was sealed, though. He could feel a terrible infection rising from his guts, moving into his lungs.

WE. ARE. HER. PROTECTORS.

THAS!

“Yes!” He screamed, consumed in righteous anger and unfathomable pain.

WILL YOU PROTECT HER?

“YES!” he screamed, and stood up. He drank in the sorrow of Melias, felt it, understood it, and felt a purpose well and take shape within him. “I will eradicate the darkness from this planet. I will stand up for the weak, I will grant mercy to the injured, AND I WILL PUNISH EVIL WHEREVER IT MAY HIDE!”

“Welcome Thas! Welcome!” In an instant, the vision and pain stopped, but Thas could still feel it in his heart. “Thas. You are strong enough to bare the pain of this world and still fight a losing fight. You will stand for Melias, stand for her people, plants, and animals. You will be her champion, like so many before you.”

“I am honored. And eager.”

“All beings have a connection to Melias because we are all born from her and the heavens beyond. We have lost our physical forms, but endure on to guide men and women like you. We opened your link with Melias to its full extent, not leaving anything out. You will learn how to control this link, how to use it, how to seek wisdom from it.”

“From that? I could barely understand…” Thas could feel the heat of tears in his eyes.

“No, Thas. There is so much more…than darkness.”

Thas felt his link to Melias open once more, and he braced himself for the onslaught. But instead, the sheer beauty of Melias, all of its happiness, love, peace. The spirits danced around his head this time, their light not so bright, their sounds melodious and metallic- like tiny wind chimes. He was bathed in pearlescent light.

He could feel it all, and was grinned with anticipation when he felt a vision coming toward him. He looked through the eyes of a father seeing his newborn son for the first time, and felt his joy, love, and pride. Thas smelled the afterbirth of the child, fresh but well hidden, like a musky secret. He watched as the father cleared blood and mucus from the child’s lips and nose, and felt his heart skip a beat when the boy shrieked his first protest.

He felt the simple joy of a beggar finding a loaf of bread discarded behind a bakery. The happiness and relief of finding something to eat washed over him. His worries melted- today he was fed. He watched as the beggar sat down on a ragged blanket and slowly ate his prize. He shared it with a few birds that came to join him. Thas felt the quiet, subtle happiness as the old man smiled, watching the little chubby birds peck his crumbs.

He felt the warmth and love of his own mother and father again, after they had been dead for so many years. It felt like hope.

Nothing ever ends completely, Thas. We are all connected, connected by Melias, connected by the very soul that fuels our bodies. We show you why you must fight. Now, we will show you what you’re really fighting for. We are all brothers and sisters on this side, Thas.

Thas felt his connection wane. He felt purified from the sheer…goodness that was within Melias. He knew he had to protect it. He knew he must protect it. The spirits broke their link around his head and returned to where he first saw them. Thas wanted to speak, but knew he didn’t need to. They faded back into the darkness, and he emerged from the Catacombs. It was dark. Was it still the same day?

Thas could feel a terrible rage build within him, a need to lash out at evil and darkness, injustice and misery. He whispered, “Melias is angry. She’s angry and tired and sick, and I will make her well again.” The images of the lamb still haunted him. He could still feel her, out there, her little life adrift. But in the same instant, he felt the love of his parents wash over him. After a mere twenty years of life, Thas finally knew what it meant to be human.

As much as the experience had drained him, Thas sighed with relief and felt a new drive in his life. He felt happiness and purpose, true purpose. He looked up through the pine trees and studied the thin rays of light that pierced the high canopy. He found purpose.

Thas returned to Dra, a changed man. Was he even a man anymore? What was he? Dra did not speak as Thas dressed himself. “You made it.”

“I did.”

“What do you think?”

Thas didn’t answer reflexively. He stopped what he was doing, and took a breath to think. “My world is gone. I’ve been flung into an entirely different realm, and I can’t believe that I came out on the other side. That’s what I think.”

“What shall you do?”

“Continue.”

“When will you start?”

“Now.”

“Tomorrow. Tonight, we camp here. By the catacombs. I will lead you to the Sacred Swamp tomorrow. You will become something different, Thas. Something completely unique. There is much to tell you, much to do. Much to experience.”

“I am ready.”

“I can see that.”

Dra fell asleep almost immediately when they finally bedded down for the night, but Thas was still dozed. He peered up at the pines and flirted glances with the grinning moon, full and bright. Silvery blue light touched the forest like a veil of glass. His lids closed once, and then shut until morning.

Dra woke him up with a gentle nudge form his boot. “Thas, today we go to the Sacred Swamp. That is where you will finish your journey, and become a Warrior Shaman in title. Then, I’ll teach you what it means to become a Warrior Shaman in heart.” Dra walked away to smother the campfire. There was no food cooking, no water boiling. Thas remained silent, wondering if this was part of his test.

He rose, and begun dressing himself in his burlap rags. “No,” Dra said, and tossed him a strange medallion slightly smaller than the size of his palm. It bore no symbol, and was well worn. It appeared to be made of brass, but it felt heavier than that. Lead? He could feel a heartbeat of magic coursing through it and passing into his arm. There was more than what met the eye here.

“Place that  below your chin, right in the center of your breastbone.” Thas wanted to ask why, but figured it wouldn’t be a smart idea. As soon as it touched his chest, a dark gas poured out from under it. A trap?

“What did you do?” Thas said.

“Silence.”

Soon, he realized that it wasn’t gas at all, but clouds. Clouds. He had a cloud forming around him. More specifically, a thunderhead. When it reached his genitals, he worried about his balls being cooked off by a stray spark of lightening.

When it was finally complete, he was in a cloak, shirt, pants, and boots, all made of…cloud. A clap of soft thunder and his clothes became real (at least they looked that way), taking on a feel of fabric. They were of dark greens, browns, and tans. The cloak, however, was bound by the medallion on his chest. It flowed over his shoulders and around his head, creating a hood.

When it all finally settled, he watched in amazement as the cloak churned and flashed silent lightening underneath the cloud cover. It was constantly shifting, always moving, just like the sky, but it was merely a cloud stretched into a cloak and then fitted on some poor bastard that had no idea what was in store for him. When it calmed down, the cloak remained a dark grey overcast, its default color.

“That is a Storm Mantle. Ever Warrior Shaman has one. It will be the only pair of clothes you will ever need.”

“It can make clothing for me?”

 

OH! And I am going to start posting flash fiction on here that star my characters. It’ll give you a better idea of their personalities and how they interact with people, and the world around them. Let me know what you think- I want to make this the best work I can possibly do. Remember, please be constructive. Just saying, “YOU SUCK” won’t allow me to improve my work, and I’ll cry for like…three hours.