"The Dark Cloud"
"What a lousy night. It's too damn hot." There's always one in every group that vocalizes every miserable thought that crosses their mind.
"Shut up and deal with it," I snapped. "It's bad enough we're on guard detail without having to listen to you piss and moan."
That shut him up. He began fiddling around with nothing in particular. Before long he was staring up and a cloud amidst the muggy summer sky. I could already tell he was going to say something before he spoke, because that's the kind of guy he is; just can't keep his trap shut for fifteen goddam seconds.
"You ever had a run-in with the Dark Cloud?" he queried. What and dolt.
"I'm standing here aren't I?" I could feel myself becoming more and more irritated. "I figure even a dipshit like yourself could figure that out."
He looked down at the ground and mumbled something.
"What was that?" I don't know why I entice him. Maybe I just enjoy being a prick.
"I've seen 'em before," he said in a slightly higher voice.
"Bullshit. Everyone knows the Dark Cloud kill any living thing around their target, even the animals. No witnesses. Only traces they leave are dead bodies. If you've seen 'em, you'd be one of those dead bodies." My partner is an idiot, but he's not a liar. He piqued my curiosity.
He walked a few feet in front of me in a daze, recalling a horrific memory. "I didn't see 'em up close, but from afar as I was passing a small village. They flew down from the sky like an eagle hunting for fish. I thought I was seeing things before I heard a few screams followed by the sound of blood splashing on the ground. It wasn't long before there was complete silence. I rushed over to the village. When I arrived, the flames had just started to spread. There were bodies scattered everywhere. I'd never seen anything like it. When I looked up, I saw a mask through the fire. I blinked, and it was gone. Never been so scared in my life." At the very moment he finished his story, a familiar splash caused him to go cold. He turned around about as fast as the sun rises. The sound of blood spilling on the ground is a distinct one, and he had not forgotten.
My partner looked upon my body sprawled across the crimson-stained dirt. As he stood there, wide-eyed, jaw to the floor, a voice from the shadows caused every hair on his body to stand straight stiff.
"Should have kept that tale to yourself."
I sat at the front of the ship, gazing into the mist. The sea was calm, breaking upon the hull in a rhythmic melody. It was soothing. So far gone was I that I did not hear the Captain approach.
"They say if you stare into the abyss for too long, it will begin to stare back at you." The words rippled through my body.
"Mother f- I- heh." I believe those were my first words. Such an inspiring retort. "Sorry, Captain. Lost in thought."
"Such apologies are not necessary. Be at ease." The Captain had a way of creating a ground of equality that I was never able to reciprocate. I suppose that's why he was the Captain, and I was not. "I hope I wasn't interrupting," he continued.
"No Captain, not at all."
He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out his flask. I always admired it. A beautiful polished metal with a leather covering, upon which a winged dragon was carved. I mused at what delicate liquor floated inside. He stole a swig and looked at me.
"Care for a taste?" he offered.
"Such a kind offer, Captain. I'd be honored."
I fought the urge to swipe at the vessel lest he discover how eager I was to indulge. Down the hatch.
I was immediately consumed by the fire held within that winged beast.
*Cough* "Christ, Captain. No wonder a dragon adorns the cover of your flask," I choked. "It's like breathing fire!" He chuckled with amusement. "Sure is smooth though, once it settles," I toughly exclaimed, hoping to save face.
"It's out there, you know, the Abyss. A creature larger than a dragon. Larger than one could conjure in their wildest of minds."
"Ive heard of such a beast," I responded. "I hope I find such fortune that I never come across it."
"Well then, you best finish off the rest of that whisky, kid, because I don't think the gods were paying attention. Don't worry yourself, though. I don't plan on being beast fodder today."
"The Den Mother"
She found me amidst the rubbage in the back alley. She looked upon me as I lay on my back. The hangover had not yet set in, as I was still drunk from the previous night. She stared down at me. It wasn't anger or hatred in her eyes, but a kind of stern compassion with a lingering hint of disappointment. But beneath it all, I saw hope.
"Marvelous way to keep warm," she greeted with a nod.
I looked down at my pants to see I had pissed myself.
"Unfortunately such brief gratification ends up leaving us cold," she continued. "Big day ahead of you?"
I grumbled and cussed as I stammered to my feet. She wasn't more than five feet tall. But her presence left me in her shadow. "What is it you want then?" The question rumbled from my gut as I burped up last nights whiskey. "Come to jest a drunkard?" Her expression remained stoic.
"You're far too young to know the life of a drunkard. You're full of pride...stubborn. Life isn't as hard as you're making it, but I'm sure you're having fun trying. Come, I will get you something to eat."
"I'm alone, you crone. A wolf. Leave me be." Her expression softened, a curl forming at the corner of her mouth as she let out a slight chuckle.
"A wolf you say? That's good, for I am known as the Den Mother. Come Wolf. No dog ever turned down a free meal and a warm place to sleep."
"The Twilight General"
The general of a thousand victories. Revered by his men, feared by his enemies. A brilliant strategist, his plans never failed. He would meet with his war council during the twilight hours. After a brief discussion, he would walk a short distance and gaze upon the land. He would smoke out of his favorite pipe while his commanders queried over what he was thinking. As sure as the sun set, he would return with a solution. Years later, when it was the general's time, he walked out to gaze at the setting sun once more. Ever curious, his most devoted commander followed him.
"How did you always find the answers out here, looking upon the land?"
"I never found any answers out here. I never knew what fate awaited me. I was simply admiring the beauty of the land that I loved so dear, for there was no guarantee I'd be given the chance again. I always valued life. That is my secret to victory."
"The Plain Walker"
A native to lands that have long since been inhabited by foreigners, the Plain Walker is a protector of her people and her land. A tribe that lives alongside all creatures in harmony, she is tasked with caring for all, both human and creature alike. Many of the beasts that live amongst their lands are rare, and are prized amongst trophy hunters, meaning she must be ever diligent. To take from their land is punishable by any means that the Plain Walker sees fit. To be the Plain Walker is a sacred title, and comes with more responsibility than just patrolling the lands. She helps vegetation flourish wherever she walks, heals the wounded, both outsider and tribesmen alike, rescues animals in distress, and hunts when needed. A being of balance, she embodies both power and grace, kindness and wrath, forgiveness and retribution, and above all, wisdom and foresight.
In the dark aftermath of the new world, many search for hope in the Wayfarer. Harvesting the supernatural ability to summon light in bioluminescent organisms, the Wayfarer directs people through treacherous lands. Some search for loved ones, some for salvation, and some just want to see light again. Whatever their reasons, the Wayfarer is ever helpful. None know of its true identity, whether it be human or other is unknown. Many believe it to be a simple man searching for eternal light. There are those who believe it is a child of the bioluminescent creatures aiding humanity in crisis. Perhaps it is a mere shadow wishing to be seen. None know. But all who encounter the Wayfarer are grateful. It is a creature of harmony in a world of darkness and confusion.
Today is somewhat special, as I saw the face of a character from my comic, Bayraku. So, I introduce to you Köke-dai of the Snow, a character I formerly referred to as Val Alizarian. Köke-dai is part of the Northland Tribes. He is a child born of war, orphaned at a young age after his parents fell in battle. His father was the Chief of his village. As is customary, the title was passed down to him. However, Köke-dai has struggled in the shadow of his father. At the time of Bayraku, Köke-dai is a typical young adult, spending his nights in the dens (brothels), picking fights, and drinking to keep his memories in a fog. A muddied reflection of his potential, he blames the Theocracy for the current state of the Northlands, as well as its past. Köke-dai cares deeply for his people, but is unable to shoulder the burden that was thrust upon him at such a young age. Many of his tribe are empathetic, and still believe that he will become a great leader. This includes his overseer, Batu-jin of the Mountains, best friend of Köke-dai's deceased father.
"The Laughing Looter"
A drifter by nature, the Laughing Looter prizes gear and valuables held dear by others. He wanders around wastelands, forgotten battlegrounds, ghost towns and other loot-rich environments, searching for new gear and merchandise. They call him the 'Laughing Looter' because of the distinct noise his breathing apparatus makes. Coupled with this man's ability to remain hidden, many speak of him as if he is an apparition or some sort of myth. Some tell that the only way to come into contact with him is to utter the special phrase when you hear his cackle. If you are fortunate enough, you will find yourself perusing some of the most valuable goods in the lands. Be sure you get what you want though, for he vanishes without a trace, and such fortune never strikes twice.
Hey everyone...you may have noticed that Coffee Conspiracy no longer titles my blog...instead, I have decided to change it to Coffee & Characters. As a large part of my work consists of me creating characters, I felt it would be appropriate to focus on the art of creating characters as opposed to my usual rants. So from here forth, I shall be using my cups of coffee to create new characters, which I will follow with a background/character description. Hope you enjoy!
The Hive are a group of deep terrain miners that received their nickname from the bee-like shape of their helmets. These helmets are appropriate, as a lot of the environments and resources they encounter are poisonous or harmful to the touch. Their days are long and grueling, something that few can relate to. Because of this, close bonds are formed between the miners, creating an unbreakable sense of loyalty amongst them. The physically exerting work, coupled with the perilous dangers of the depths below, make them as hard as a coffin nail. To anger one would be to anger many, much like a hive of bees. So be weary of what you say around them, for a swarm of bees is not something to be taken lightly.
I think at my core, I just really enjoy creating bad ass looking characters. I'd be lying if I said that this character below was spawned completely from my imagination. However, it was largely inspired by a character from a game called Apex Legends. In this day and age, I think it's nearly impossible to create something that hasn't been influenced to a certain degree. Even if you were to sit and spontaneously scribble what's in your head at that exact moment, what ends up on paper probably came from an image stored in your subconscious. Whether we know it or not, our minds are gathering and storing information around the clock. As an artist, that's a great thing. I like the idea of having made something that was pulled from a collective reservoir of stored creativity. Like a watering hole in the plains of the safari, we gather as a community and take what we need, but also give right back. It's a beautiful thing, and it feels great to be a part of. It's what gets me up in the morning, it's what helps me through difficult times, and it is what inspires me to do more. I hope that it also inspires someone out there to do the same, as it inspired me when I was just a young child. And here I am, almost 27 years later, still pulling from the collective watering hole and giving life to bad ass characters. Have a great weekend everyone.