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Topics - MahluaandMilk

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General Discussion / From Fun to Fundamentals to Not-so-Fun-Anymore
« on: July 17, 2018, 10:39:57 AM »
I've been having a kind of bizarre experience with my art lately, and I figured I'd make a thread addressing this specific issue, because I get the feeling that this hasn't just happened to me. (Frankly, I don't think I'm that special of a cookie.)

Basically this all started a couple of months ago when a friend of mine made a kind of rude comment that my art seemed to be getting worse. At first, I was offended and like, outright dismissed her because I was seeing progress in my creative process, like how quickly I was starting to get lines down and getting them to do what I wanted with less strokes, but after my recent thread in which I dug up a lot of my old art from ten to only two years ago, oddly enough I think I can actually see what she was talking about.

More recently, I've taken to trying to study the fundamentals of art. Y'know, perspective, color theory, values (which can kiss my ass), anatomy, proportions, gestures, all these things. What I've come to realize is that in doing so, I've started to dismiss my previous habits as "all wrong", when really, that might not actually be the case.

I'm honestly starting to think that it's possible to get so caught up in studying art theory that you can lose the capacity to make valuable art, because that's where I feel like I've hit rock bottom. Somewhere along the line, I stopped wanting to create and just started working on it like a job or a school subject. Being a big believer in how intention can affect outcomes, I honestly think my art reflects this change. It's become more mechanical. I used to just sit around and go, hey, let me draw this character! It'll be fun! Nowadays, I have to like, mentally prepare myself to even pick up a pencil anymore.

If anyone else has experienced this kind of bump, which I honestly suspect some of you have (and I know one of you in particular, but I don't know if you recognize it in yourself, so I'm not going to call you out on it), how do you manage it?

[[DISCLAIMER: I'm not in any way trashing the study art theory. It's incredibly important for anyone who is serious about their art and getting better to do.]]

Starter Gallery / WHEN MAHLUA WAS A BABY ARTIST (~2008-2012)
« on: July 15, 2018, 07:51:17 AM »
So I found my clipboard case that holds most of my loose paper and fallen/torn out sketchbook pages that range from like, elementary school art through maybe 2013 at most. I blurred out my signatures, although they changed a lot and I rarely used the same name. These are just some of the highlights from my first comb-through, but there is a lot more cringe contained within that I may post eventually. I have two other sketchbooks that are full that mostly encompass my 2013-2016 era.

So why am I doing this? Well, frankly, I suck at art, but I used to suck a lot harder. This one is for all the artists who currently feel like they suck a lot. YOU SUCK LESS WITH TIME, I PROMISE. JUST LOOK AT ME. Or maybe don't. I'm a terrible role model. But at least I try to keep a sense of humor about it.

Cringe Carnage

Wow look at that obviously copied stuff from how-to-draw manga books by clearly American artists. Mmm-mmm.

Pretty sure this is an OC for Marchen Awakens Romance (MAR).

How do perspective eyeballs lmfao.

What is an ear? And wow look at that weeb-ass tryina be Japanese-ass name. Yiiiiiikes.

Well here I know we've gone from elementary to middle school. Legs actually look like they can carry weight, maybe, but that's the least of these guys' problems...

Everything from here on is like, eighth grade to like freshman year of high school ish in appearance and I really can't tell between 2010 and 2012 any major differences so I just hope I have some sense of chronology right in my head.

Yay massive OC group shots!

Pretty sure I scrapped this idea from my OC canon...they're twins, anyway.

What is a spine?

And this is why Mahlua doesn't draw backgrounds.

Maybe they won't notice I suck as much if I use chibi art to hide broken proportions! Haha! Also hey look some of Everlastin's OCs.

Weird Vocaloid fanart. This just in: humans are now tubes. Or balloon animals. Or something.

Sure, guys' legs work like that. Why not? Also, what are hands and ink shading?

Get a load of this edgy sh!t. (Owen Wilson "wow".mp3)

Unfortunately still probably the best background I've ever drawn smh.

Seriously this character was like, half of this damn case.

And then there was that time I was like, "but what if they were some kind of wereboy and could become a dude?" Also what is depth?

Well this probably sucks the least except they're supposed to be like the same age so whatever. Also #owtheedge continues.

break Room / Happy Birthday Coryn!
« on: July 11, 2018, 01:07:19 PM »
I'm amazed I'm the first one who noticed that on today's forum stuff. Or at least, the first to make a thread about it.

Happy Birthday to the lurking cyborg who helped make MR the whacky, tacky goodness that it is.

Comics and other Gallery / Mahlua's Voice Acting/Goof Booth
« on: July 07, 2018, 02:44:26 AM »
Yeah I've never been any official projects that got off the ground (there was that one time I was invited to a Strawberry Panic fandub...like I said, never really got off the ground) but I'm sorta known in my group of friends for doing voice stuff. I have a Soundcloud. I have audacity. I have an okay headset. What kind of stupid nonsense do you guys want me to get up to?

I try to make a demo tomorrow-ish. My vocal range is like...starting from a maybe little lower than Urbosa from the new Zelda game to pure on neko loli girl status. I made a drunk guy stumble over once because I switched from my low to high on a dime. I've been working on trying to get better at sounding masculine, but sometimes it still sounds like a forced accent.

Or if you want me to try parody/character impressions that's cool too. Not like I'm making money on any of this.

For that demo, though, why don't y'all give me some tropes or themes you want me to try to explore?

Congrats everyone. We started July 4th, 2007. MR turns 11 years old today. Here's to the hopes of many more years of whacky tacky music, manga, art, writing, friends, and spam ninjas.


CosPlay / Does Drag Count As Cosplay?
« on: June 24, 2018, 02:39:07 PM »
Well, I've mentioned before that I do some Drag King stuff on the side (and it got me into some trouble with Mom yesterday, actually--yikes!).

Here he is. Drag King: Evan Essence.
He got his name by being the biggest edgelord they scraped out of a 2008 trashcan.

picture dump
mostly from Instagram
first performance:

first faux-beard attempt

first beard plus new wig attempt

after another show, took wig off in a restaurant

« on: June 16, 2018, 12:00:03 AM »
Now someone go buy me a beer.

General Discussion / Opening Commissions!
« on: May 14, 2018, 02:00:08 PM »
Welp, I'm finally biting the bullet, guys. I opened up 10 slots for flat color busts/badges on FurAffinity and 5 open slots on DeviantART (Oh yeah, I have a DeviantART now, even though it's still a work in progress). That said, I'll also be opening up my commissions here. But, more than that, I think it's important to discuss some of the weirdness that comes with opening commissions for the first time and I wanted to make a thread about it.

So like, where would one list one's commission prices here on MangaRaiders for example? How do you know how to price yourself?

I don't know the answer to the first one, but there are two things to keep in mind for the second one: first of all, time yourself and your art and give yourself the opportunity to make minimum wage. This is a job, after all. Secondly, take a look at what other people offer and how their "level" compares (or doesn't) to yours. You'll often find that even if you don't think you're very good, there are people out there who outright suck who are probably making more than what you'd originally offer. Don't down yourself.

Also, a word about slots: don't overwork yourself. Set a limit as to how many commissions you'll take. This prevents you from overdoing it and getting in over your head from the start.

Any further questions, comments, concerns, smart remarks, insults, and etc. are welcomed.

Video / PC Games / The Galerians Franchise
« on: December 30, 2017, 02:51:34 AM »
A thought struck me while I was making my post earlier about what games I may or may not play next. I've only ever met one other person who knew about the Galerians franchise before meeting me (and believe me, after meeting me, it's hard to have a discussion about video games where I don't somehow find a way to bring it up).

Just out of curiosity, does anyone else happen to know of (and potentially be a fan of) the series?

For those of you who don't know, the first Galerians game was released on the Playstation, with a sequel released on the Playstation 2. They also used 3d animation similar to the cutscenes of the second game to make 3 OVAs that followed the story of the first game and released it on a DVD that made it over to the West. The first game is simply titled Galerians, and the sequel is titled Galerians: Ash, and the OVA/movie is titled Galerians: Rion.

Now, I'll be the first to tell you that these games have not aged well at all. Their mechanics, as far as I can tell from old reviews, were stale even for their time. There's just one thing that keeps dragging me back to this franchise though: the story (and arguably the characters).

Apparently there used to be a fanbase for it, and there's lots of fanart that's still out there, but the only posts you see these days is about how dead the fandom is and how we're never going to get our remakes or the third game that was sorta teased in a bonus cutscene after beating the second game. Seeing as I don't have any console that came out past the DS, I don't know if either of the games are on the PSN, but from what I gather, I don't think they are.

So...that all said, what I'm kinda hoping to do here is to gauge how many raiders are some of the scattered remnants of that fandom, or maybe introduce some of you to the fact that it's a thing that exists. I'm kinda sick of being the only one I know who knows anything at all about it. Besides, part of me really wants to get into doing fanart of the series, maybe even a cosplay of Rion if I ever get half the chance. Rather blatantly, I want to try to revive it. Best way I can think to do that is to talk about it.

Manga Creations / MRverse: The Great Raid of 2017
« on: December 26, 2017, 03:31:56 PM »
It's that time of year again, folks, and now Coryn and I can reveal that secret little project we've been working on for a while now. If you've read the title of the thread, you can probably already guess it--so without any further delay, I hope all of us here on MangaRaiders can come together for another year of adventure, triumph, and panties.

As night falls over MR City on December 26th, 2017, all is quiet. Street lights hum to life in the early darkness. Strings of colored Christmas lights and garlands hang from storefronts and rooftops. Soft Christmas melodies play on street speakers, and a gentle snow begins to fall. All is quiet, and all is at peace.

This is where our story begins. Hush now children, and listen to our tale.
The night was quiet and at peace, because no Raider with half a brain would be caught outside after sundown on December 26th, for this is the night of The Great After Christmas Panty Raid: an annual MangaRaiders tradition in which Raiders navigate the city-turned-booby-trapped-death-maze in order to 'raid’ a symbolic set of panties. To anyone who can complete this task, the reward is a night spent with the Ecchi Twin of their choice. It is, of course, the job of the Twins to stop the Raiders at all costs. There was no room for compassion on either side. One team would stand victorious come morning, and since the raid’s conception, that team had been the Twins, without fail.

This night, another team of Raiders set out to change that.

“I'm getting a little feedback on the conversation matrix again. Raising power to compensate. Increase frequency just a tad,” said Coryn, who sat hovering in the center of a large shield bubble.

“Realigning now,” replied Mahlua, sitting on the inside wall of said bubble, slowly orbiting Coryn as they conversed.
Unlike Coryn's regular bubbles, magical symbols snaked around the surface, courtesy of Mahlua. Coryn looked past them, and then past the eleven other bubbles that enclosed the bubble he and Mahlua occupied. Between each bubble layer were sandwiched smaller bubbles, each of which contained a member of the Raider’s team, for a total of twenty-seven. And then at the very top, Coryn perceived Lego, whose legs were firmly held in place by two special cells of Coryn's hexagonal shield pattern.

Atop the outermost shield, Lego pulled his coat in tightly to fight off the chill of the night. Despite locating their launch site at ground level, by the time the final bubble had been constructed, Lego had found himself easily five stories in the air.

He gazed off at MR Tower and tugged gently at his legs. In addition to being held by the bubble, Mahlua's magics were clinging to his legs. They reminded him of veins. Or spider webs. Purple, softly glowing spider webs. Lego let fly a shiver unrelated to the cold, and flicked on the radio in his ear. “Are you sure about this Coryn? Last time I tried this I set the atmosphere on fire…” He gave it another moment’s thought. “And then I killed you! Remember that time I killed you?”

Coryn's voice came in with a heavy static, no doubt the effect of the multiple shields. “Hard to forget. Just keep it to about ten percent power.”

“Roger that. Ready and waiting.”

Coryn finished the last of his calculations. The mad pulsing of his eyes returned to standard pace, and he switched over to an open broadcast. “Okay Raiders, we are approximately t-minus five minutes. Let's run through the plan one last time, with feeling!

“Thanks to last year's raid, we have finally determined the specific room within the tower where the finish line is located. Now, last year's strategy of divide and conquer went understandably poorly, so this year we are taking the exact opposite approach. Our target is in sight, and we will be taking the most direct attack.

“By combining Mahlua's ability to store magical energy with my force fields, we have created a positive feedback loop of power. This allows me to create a stronger shield, and is why you are staring at a kaleidoscope of hieroglyphs right now. This excess energy is also being fed to Lego up top... say hello Lego.”


“Thank you Lego. The excess energy is being fed to Lego up top in order to power his Himmlisch Uzustand transformation, while simultaneously conserving his own power. He will be providing our offensive capabilities, while my shields will provide the defense. We are calling this construct the ‘Magic Bullet’--which brings me to your part.

“Should the outer shell fail, Lego will be brought down to the next level via the special tether cells at his feet. However, your own personal bubbles are being powered by the potential between the shield layer above you, and the one below you. If you're outer shell goes down, you will have approximately three seconds before your personal bubble breaks as well. Use this time to prepare yourself. Once your bubble is gone, it becomes your job to distract and delay the twins for as long as possible. This will only be effective as long as both Twins are engaged. They will surely realize our plan quickly. If one of them is free to attack us, we will not make it. This is why there are two of you in between each shell. Once again, I apologize to those of you who drew the short straw, and ended up towards the outside of the Bullet.

“To whomever makes it to the treasure room itself: make sure to claim the prize at the same time as those around you. We don't know if they will allow for multiple victors, (seeing as how there have been no victors at all), so our best bet is to aim for simultaneous victory.

“Finally, to all of you I say: Good luck, and Godspeed. May your sacrifices not be in vain.”

The Bullet fell silent. All within waited with bated breath for the signal to begin.


Across town, past the mechanized horrors, the hidden traps, the pitfalls, the winding roads and chilling winter wind, waited the twins.

The pair wore their usual sexy Santa get-ups, seemingly unaffected by the chill. Ecchi-tan surveyed the horizon, wooden sword in hand. She scrunched her nose up, discontentment spreading on her face. “It doesn't make any sense Lewd, it's like they're just missing. Do you think we scared them off?”

Lewd-tan leaned against a structural support, a piece of ribbon candy rolling around on her tongue. “They'll be old and gray before they give up.”

“Then how come I can't feel them?” pouted Ecchi.

Lewd smiled back at her, hard candy clenched between her molars. “It's not that they ain't there Sis. It's that they AIN'T there.”


“If they weren't playin’ tonight, we'd still be able to sense 'em. But they're missing entirely. There's a hole where they should be.”

A look of understanding dawned on Ecchi-tan's face. “Ooh! I get it! They're hiding from us on purpose! But won't we figure it out once they set off the traps?”

Lewd-tan crunched through the rest of her candy and approached the roof’s edge. “Let's find out.” She raised her arm, and swiped it across to her left. The air parted, a vacuum formed, and as it collapsed back in on itself, a sonic boom was sent racing across the city, officially announcing the start of the games.


The participants knew the game had started long before the shock wave had blasted a wave of snow that hit them. At one mile off, Mahlua maximized her power output. At five-hundred yards, Coryn reinforced the exterior shields. At ten feet, Lego set the world on fire.


The initial wave of heat melted the snow to water. The second, coming in only a fraction of a fraction of a second later, vaporized that water to gas. By the time the third wave was past, the gaseous atoms had long since ceased to be, and only existed as a smattering of sub-atomic particles dancing wild through the ether.

Coryn waited for his shields to break, but they never did. Even without squinting he could see Lego now: golden clothes, afro a great flaming mass, and a long blade of fiery darkness. His radio wouldn’t have survived, so a few prearranged seconds after the signal, Coryn initiated the warp effect of his shields, and sent the Bullet screaming into the night.
Lego knew the course well. He had run it every year since its inception after all. The first obstacles were the living bindings. Ropes, leather straps, chains, all flew against his might. They never stood a chance. He didn’t even lift his sword. Next came the spring and other mechanically driven traps. Lego directed his will against them, and they too crumbled. Still, his sword remained at rest.

Mahlua reforged her sigils to meet their opposition. The shields needed new sigils at a mind-boggling rate. The makeup of Coryn’s shields were changing constantly. Lego’s meager weight shifts above caused reality to shiver. Amazingly, they were already three quarters of the way to the tower. The magic detected that Lego was finally swinging his blade. They were encountering missiles and moving landscape by now. The Twins were almost certainly getting ready for them. You can’t send something like what they had constructed blasting on a straight line through the city without raising attention. It was now that the plan would tell. Make or break time, and Mahlua had to prepare the grand finale. So far she had been concentrating on just a single concept: “Forward”. It was time to change tact.


It had been hard for the Twins to get a grasp on what exactly they were looking at. Still unable to feel any energy signatures, they could only guess what the flaming comet heading their way actually was. It wasn’t until too late that Lewd-tan finally recognized the flaming figure glued to the front of the thing.

“WHAT THE F---?!”

She was cut off as the Bullet abruptly changed direction and smashed right into her. Lewd impacted on the bubble itself, but the outer shell was glowing red with the heat, and her pristine fur collar came away from it looking more black bear than polar.
“Sis, language!” shouted Ecchi-tan.

“Not now!” yelled Lewd. “We gotta stop that thing!”

But the Bullet had become insanely aggressive. It had been obvious to everyone that if Lewd or Ecchi were left standing by the time the team were inside the tower, then they would almost certainly destroy the Raiders. They could have rushed the treasure room directly, but the prized garments would disappear in Lego’s fire before they could have broken through the wall and disassembled the Bullet. There was then, only one possible course of action. Team Raider was going to take the Twins to battle then and there.

The Bullet looped around in the air and struck at Ecchi-tan. She and her fire were without a doubt the greatest combat threat, but Lego wasn’t feeling very scared of being burned at the moment. As for her physical strength, he suspected he was about to give her a run for her money.

The two collided. Lego was surprised that her wooden sword didn’t turn to charcoal before him, but that was a Tan’s weapon for you. He was more than satisfied when Ecchi failed to stop their advance, and they collectively sent her into the ground.

Lewd-tan watched her sister disappear into the earth, quickly followed by a giant flaming orb. She knew her twin was strong enough to take the abuse, but even she had to question how long it would before she would get back up after a hit like that. But Lewd wasn’t about to sit on her hands and wait for them to come back up. She immediately set to work gathering snow. It came to her call both from the drifts on the streets below and from the sky above where it still fell. Above her a great and inverted spire formed--a spike of ice infused with Tan energy and amassed to the size of a small skyscraper. If this didn’t stop them, she wasn’t sure anything she could summon up would.

She briefly considered that she may actually have to swallow her pride that night, but she was cut off when the Bullet burst from the ground below her. Lego was at the front of it, but to her great surprise, Lewd realized that Ecchi was still engaged with the flaming force. For a moment she despaired. It wasn’t in her nature to sacrifice others; however, in this case, she believed that history would vindicate her actions.

“Sorry Sis! But you’re gonna have to get out of the way pretty damn quick!” Lewd-tan lashed out with her whip and encircled the spike, and with the kind of resolve only achieved when one’s back is firmly against a wall, launched the frosty projectile right at her beloved twin sister’s back.
Lego of course, could see the spear coming. This left him with a conundrum. He could either, A: Let Ecchi-tan take the brunt of the hit, and give the team their greatest chance at victory. Or he could take Option B: Throw Ecchi-tan out of the way like the true gentlemen he knew himself in his heart-of-hearts to be, saving her, but most definitely blowing a hit to their possibility of success.

To Lego, there was no question at all.

“Goodbye, my sweet banana!”

“My sweet what?” replied Ecchi-tan. She was going to follow up on the inquiry, but Lego grabbed her by the collar and sent her flying into a nearby rooftop. She groaned and shook herself out of the crater, glaring in the direction of the Bullet. She then understood the scope of her peril only moments before, and made a silent vow to thank Lego for it later.

Meanwhile, Lego raised his dark blade, and drew out every last bit of energy he could from Mahlua’s magic. “Let’s go! Bankai!”

He fell upon the tip of the spear. It shattered before him, giving way to his magnificent heat.

To an outside observer, perhaps an observer who had seen too much anime, this would have looked like the climactic event from the big final battle. The attack is broken, the heroes emerge victorious. Everyone goes home happy. This is because this outside observer would have seen too many people walk away from the epicenters of massive explosions without so much as a scratch, and indeed, if the hero is hurt in any way, it’s nothing a few bandages won’t fix.

Unfortunately for our heroes, steam explosions are no laughing matter. Especially when that steam was just until moments before, a Tan magic infused block of ice the size of a ten story building.

The outermost bubble failed almost instantly, much to the chagrin of those Raiders in the farthest orbit. Equally annoyed were those in the next six levels down. It goes without saying that their personal bubbles failed to survive until their hypothesized three seconds of residual power ran out. On the upside, Coryn’s tether cells held up under the stress, in no small part thanks to Mahlua’s magic running through them, and Lego found himself replanted on the much diminished Bullet.

Lego scanned the sky to see if he could spot either of the Twins, but they were out of sight, along with several of the buildings that usually surrounded MR Tower. Not wasting any time, Coryn redirected the Bullet towards where they knew the treasure room to be. Lego reverted his transformation, using the last of its strength to smash through the wall. The remaining Bullet finished the DIY entry, and once fully inside, Coryn broke the whole system apart, depositing himself, Lego, Mahula, Forlorn Serpent, Devola, Eukocar, and three other Raiders within the gilded space.

Before them lay their metaphorical prizes. A pair of panties hung neatly on a line, each representing one of the Twins. Whichever they grasped, would be the twin that they would spend the night in the loving embrace of.

To be honest, no one standing in the room that night really believed they would make it. A lesser team would break into anarchy at this point, but they were no amateurs. They had drilled day-in and day-out for this moment. As one they split into two teams, sorted by the prize they sought. Coryn and Mahlua headed up Team Lewd, four other raiders in tow. Lego headed Team Ecchi, with his own pair of comrades. Together they reached the far end of the room, reached out their hands, and with one final, terrified look over their shoulders, took firm hold of their destinies.

This children, is the part of the tale where I would like to tell you that all nine of those Raiders went on to enjoy a night of licentious bliss with a beautiful woman. I wish I could tell you of how they all went away from those nights, fully satisfied in every sense of the word.

I wish I could tell you that story children, but alas, I cannot. Because none of those Raiders had succeeded in that moment. Oh yes, they really did reach that treasure room, and they really did touch those sacred and silky delicates. But that is not the end of our story. No, dear children, our story is only beginning.


break Room / Official Homestuck Classpect Quiz!
« on: November 28, 2017, 04:08:18 PM »
I don't know how long ago this was made, but ayo, it's not too bad. I hate quizzes that are all "what's your favorite color"--and this has none of that.


Here's the link for everyone, and, for all curious parties, I am either Blue or Gold Sign Class, Prospit Dreamer, and Space Aspect.

FanFics / Star Ocean Til the End of Time: Clair/Nel fanfic
« on: October 18, 2017, 07:06:21 PM »
Long story short: I wrote this in one of my class notebooks between lessons once upon a time, and I realized I could use it as a part of my multi-genre paper, so I typed it up and cleared up some minor issues and yada yada. It still doesn't have a title, but here you go:

“You can’t be serious,” I say numbly, pushing past the guard, making sure to grind my shoulder against hers as I pass.

“My lady,” she stammers, “the Commander needs her rest—”

I don’t listen. How can I? The one person who was always above me in everything, wounded severely, possibly fatally, on a mission? It couldn’t possibly be true.

I slam my hand on the wooden door, and it squeaks open into the familiar inn room that we have been occupying over the course of this battle.
And, there you are, lying in that itchy old bed with a nurse next to you. She rinses a soiled bandage with water that is quickly turning brown with your blood. My breath hitches. I want to scream in rage. I could punch through the stone wall. I can almost cry.

The guard stumbles in behind me and grips my shoulder as if to pull me away. The sound of armor rattling jolts the nurse upright. She looks scared of me.

“Lady Lasbard, my deepest apologies,” the guard says, eyebrows knitted together in concern, “I tried to stop her, but she’s—”

You smile and lift a hand to cut her off. “Leave us,” you command, despite the weariness creaking in your voice. The nurse and the guard meet eyes and nod before they shuffle out of the room. I close the door behind them.

Then it’s just the two of us.

I take a seat in the chair the nurse previously occupied. You look paler than ever, and your eyes appear unfocused.

Seeing you like this torments me. Memories bubble to the surface, and none of them align at all with the image in front of me. I see the you from our training days, always smiling so sweetly and helping others with their magic. I see the you kneeling proudly as the Queen knights you. I see the you that constantly teases me for sulking.

“Still pretending to be made of iron, Nel?” you ask with a faint chuckle. Your voice jerks me back to the present. I tear my eyes away from your face, but in my periphery, I see you smile. Why do you smile?

Many things flood my throat that I want to say. I settle on, “What happened?”

For a moment, you say nothing. Your lips press into a thin line. “If I told you, you’d be consumed by your hatred, and you don’t need any more of that in your blood.”

Damn it. We’re hardly two years apart. How can you talk like a wise mentor even now?

You sigh, almost laughing. “You try to keep that scary, stern face, but under all that, you’re still in turmoil, aren’t you?”

My shoulders slump, defeated. I can never slide anything past you, and you never judge me for things I try to hide. That force of familiarity, you are never afraid of it. Even now as you lie injured, you worry about me? I can’t wrap my head around how you do that.

Words leave me, so I sit a while, interlocking my fingers and having a staring match with the floor.

“It doesn’t matter,” you say quietly, almost to yourself, and then you turn your head to look at me. I tense. “It’s okay to feel things, Nel, at least around me. If I’m going to die here—”

“Clair, don’t,” I say, feeling my mouth go dry.

“—I would rather it be next to you, with you being honest,” you continue. It turns some invisible dagger in my stomach.

We say nothing for a few minutes, but you break the silence again. “Come closer,” you say. I pull the chair as close as possible to the head of the bed, but I can’t look you in the eye. Mine are starting to go blurry.

“Look at me,” you say, voice weakening into a rasp, “It’s okay to be a mess.”

I wonder if you want proof of something abstract. Is it an accomplishment to finally get me to cry in front of you?

Either way, I finally manage to meet your familiar grey eyes. The storm that used to rage in them seems dull today. My left cheek feels a sudden warmth trail down to my chin. You lift a hand to hold that side of my face.

“See? The world hasn’t ended,” you smile.

“Neither has the war,” I say bitterly.

Your eyebrows arch and sink. “Don’t you dare start on revenge for my sake,” you sigh, “That’s not what I want for you.”

“What do you want, then?” I respond. Your words remind me of my father before he left on his last mission. His daggers, my sole inheritance, feel heavier at my side. I never got the chance to ask him that question.

“I want you to keep holding onto hope, even if that means going on without me,” you interrupt my thoughts, and I am grateful.

“What the hell does that mean?” I ask, and I hate the crack that ruins my otherwise even tone. My lips tremble. “You are where my hope is grounded,” I say softly, fighting to hold back tears that fall easily anyway.

“You’ll make it. I know you will,” you say, closing your eyes. My heart stops.

“Shall I grab the nurse,” I say with unexpected urgency.

You shake your head. “I have a while still,” you say.

I bite my lip and avert my gaze. “How is it that you’re the one injured and I’m the one losing all tact?” I sigh.

You brush your thumb across my cheek, catching a stray tear. “Because your fear of grief is worse than my fear of death.”

“Stop!” I say with far more intensity than I intend. I stop to collect the pieces of myself. The process drains me. “Just stop. I won’t let you die.”
“I don’t exactly need your permission,” you laugh quietly.

Then you cough, and I can almost believe in your mortality. You open your eyes and look at me again. I feel exposed, like you aren’t just looking, but reading. Tears flow on their own and drip carelessly into my legion scarf. My chest tightens. I feel ill.

“It should have been me,” I say through my pain. With a flick of your hand, you slap my ear.

“No, Nel. You’re invaluable to the Queen and for our victory. I’m just one Commander,” you say, sounding hurt. I feel guilty for the emotion in your voice.

“But all our men love you, and you teach with an understanding like no other. You could be General, or Grand Advisor. Your heart is more brave, more open than mine has ever been. If anyone, we need you.” The words carelessly pour from my mouth. I feel like they will strangle me if I don’t let them out. “You are a superior magician as well, with your father’s blood. All I have are my father’s daggers and a knack for breaking and entering. You’re a guiding light, so much more than I can say. Even in this bloodbath of a war, you can still smile. You can do things so far beyond me. You’ve always been better. How?” My voice starts to grow raw. “How can you smile so genuinely? How can you hope?”
I hang my head. All the energy drips from my body through my feet and into the ground, probably to die.

“Because I can trust,” you say simply, “And I trust you, perhaps more than you do, and I’m telling you it’s all right. Now please, don’t hate yourself while you sit next to me.”


You died that night. I’ve been put under watch. The legion considers me a danger to myself and to the mission. They must figure I would send myself on a suicide mission to take out as many as those bastards as possible before going out in a blaze of glory. Maybe they’re waiting for the opportunity to do just that.

But how could you leave me with requests like those? Now I can never live up to you and your martyrdom, and I’ve grown even colder. The war still rages, and I don’t know if I can make it anymore. I never understood hope. I sure as hell can’t now.

Tips and Tutorials / THIS. VIDEO.
« on: August 07, 2017, 06:46:41 PM »
My partner found this video, and I feel myself internally screaming in joy that someone put it in words. Bless this video a thousand times. I don't feel that I need to introduce it. I'm sure other artists will agree with me. It is essential for people who want to draw in an anime or manga style. You will probably have heard fragments of this from many of us here on site in many different ways, but this--it's perfectly compacted in a six minute video.


MR Pub / The Velvet Room (aka the Tarot Thread)
« on: July 22, 2017, 09:20:43 PM »
*Insert fitting music here*

Welcome, to the Velvet Room.

As some of you may know, I am a practicing pagan studying under the Kemetic Orthodoxy (a legally ordained religious society as of the 90s thanks to the efforts of our Nisut (ankh udja seneb) and many Shemsu priests). I am also by definition a witch, and I dabble from time to time with my trusty tarot deck (the Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti).

For a little history:
Tarot is a form of divination that started arguably back in the Italian Renaissance that involves a deck of 78 cards, 52 of which are the minor arcana that came down to us as modern playing cards (four suits of ten numeric cards and four court cards), the other 22 of which are the major arcana. Originally, like a standard card deck, it began as a game and became known for its divining capacity later. The most popular deck, which most tarot decks are based on today, is the Rider White deck from 1910. Even my deck shares some symbolism with this deck.

For a little FAQ:
1. No, tarot is not evil/the devil (although there is a card called "the Devil" in many decks). It's just a deck of cards. Whether or not you believe they hold power is irrelevant. Besides, if you look at most tarot decks, especially the Rider White, you'll notice immense influence from Christianity, which makes sense given that it was originally a game during the Italian Renaissance.
2. You don't have to believe any bit of this. In fact, I encourage skepticism. I personally see tarot as one of many tools to help me view my life with different eyes, which often times helps me approach difficult situations in a different way, which can make things easier. Just because I received the Seven of Swords (a card of deceit, theft, and/or hidden agendas) in the work position during a reading, and then a few months later had a terrible experience of my manager basically letting me go without actually informing me that I had been let go until I asked about my schedule for the next week does not mean you have to believe that they predicted the future. The future is abstract. It can change with the most minute of a touch.
3. It's not me, it's the cards. Don't shoot the messenger. Sometimes, even if you don't believe in all this divination nonsense, the information that comes through can strike you as surprisingly relevant. This has happened to several people I've done readings for when I have offered free ones out in the park-like area in the middle of campus. They say the human mind readily seeks out patterns, and this can explain this phenomenon, even if a skeptic views the cards as being randomized and meaningless. I may say something about the meaning of a card that strikes you, especially if the question you ask can have a difficult to face outcome.
-will add more here if further common questions arise.-

With that out of the way, now, the actual purpose of me opening this thread:

Super brownie points to the first raider who knows who this character is...

I'm offering to do readings for any and all raiders.
Readings should only take a half hour to an hour at a time, but I ask that you be courteous if you see many requests still untaken.

I can offer one of five types of spreads, each with its specialization and card count. The longest of which is supposed to actually take two decks so that one part of it is solely done in major arcana; however, seeing as I only have one deck, I've found that the 74 cards I have do suffice and can still answer many questions. The different spreads, in order of length, are as follows:

1. The Daily Spread. This five-card spread is good for general information and awareness. It's great if you don't have a specific question, as it covers any number of things. It's also good if you know that you're in a transition period in your life at the moment and want to know what changes you can expect.
The first card represents works, and can refer to your personal projects or a literal workplace.
The second card represents the home, which can relate to family, friends, or your close personal life.
The third card represents the unexpected, or an upcoming change, or in general something you might want to watch for.
The fourth card represents your role. That should be pretty self-explanatory.
The fifth card represents the outcome. Here I'll put that disclaimer again that you don't have to believe in this as fortune telling. I personally see "outcome" as a general statement of "this is how the energy of the situation looks as of right now, and may be viable to change if you follow the advice of the cards."

2. The Cross of Truth Spread. This is another five-card spread, although it's better suited for specific questions, as it offers advice for dealing with a situation.
The first card represents the basis of the situation.
The second card represents your hopes and/or fears regarding the situation.
The third card represents matters in your favor.
The fourth represents matters not in your favor.
The fifth, once again, represents outcome.

3. The Star of Discovery Spread. This spread takes six cards, and I took it from a book that uses tarot as a tool for dealing with personal struggles. This spread is the introductory one of the book, and is specifically designed to point out areas in your life that you may be struggling in and why. It's also meant to be meditated upon and thought over for many days after the fact, but ain't nobody got time fo' dat. Still, when I did this one for myself today, I took notes so that I could keep them in mind, as the cutting accuracy actually hurt a little.
The first card represents an aspect of yourself that you are in denial about, or something that you're denying yourself access to.
The second card represents something causing you anxiety.
The third card represents something that triggers your inferiority.
The fourth card represents something that causes you anger, or something that anger is preventing you from doing.
The fifth card represents secrecy and things you aren't communicating that you perhaps should.
The sixth card represents self-loathing, either what you hate about yourself unduly or something that's causing you to do so.
I forewarn that this one could really hurt if you're not prepared to think about these things. Please consider it carefully before asking for it.

$1.00 4. The Past Life Spread. This one takes fourteen cards, and thankfully its name is self-explanatory for what it does. I've found that many decks like to give you an idea of what's going on in this life the first time this spread is done for a person, and many of the elements sound familiar to the receiver. This happened to myself when my friend first introduced me to this spread by doing it for another friend of ours and then myself.
The first card represents your soul's nature going into the life in question.
The second card represents environmental influence on the early portion of the life.
The third card represents the early years and may deal with family upbringing.
The fourth card represents the kind of education you obtained in the life.
The fifth card represents your accomplishments in the life.
The sixth card represents your primary occupation in the life.
The seventh card represents your social status overall in the life.
The eighth card represents your relationships and how they went in the life.
The ninth card represents your family life in adulthood in the life.
The tenth card represents circumstances surrounding your death.
The eleventh and twelfth cards represent lessons your soul learned through this life.
The thirteenth and fourteenth cards represent how this life affects your current one.

And if that wasn't enough for you,
$2.50 5. The Life Spread. Please go easy on me with this one. It takes 28 cards, and it can take me a while to fully explain a card and how it's dealing with the other cards in a group.
The first seven serve as the "anchor", and they give an overview of the five main groups of the spread and work as a lens through which to view the cards that appear in the corresponding groups. In order, these seven cards represent the basis, lovelife, worklife, the central theme of life, the immediate future, current wishes, and the far future.
The first group deals with the personal life, as in you, yourself, and you. This is an internal reading. The order for it is the same for the next four groups, which is another key card and a past-present-future type layout.
The second group of four cards each deals with the home life, or generally speaking, family and close friends.
The third group deals with career and worklife.
The fourth group deals with relationships and lovelife.
The fifth group deals with the future and can relate to any and all other areas of the spread. Generally it correlates with consequences when dealing with the past positions.
The last card is one last key card. It is the "what you should probably keep closest in mind right now" advice card, or the "here's what you can do with this information" card.


With all that said and done, I am open to questions. You do not have to tell me your question if you don't want to. Just pick a spread and I'll tell you as best I can how the cards relate to each other. If you would prefer to contact me in PM or would prefer to have your response given to you in PM, let me know.

Post edit: If you request a Past Life or a Life spread, the payment can be made through PayPal. PM me for my information.

Senebty. <<lit, "in health" or "may you be healthy".>>

Your idea is great, and it might get big someday, but before all that, let's cool down a little bit and think about requesting an artist. That's why you're here, right? Hopefully you can find an artist to match with you, and you all can form happy business relationships.


Majority of threads here get locked or otherwise just never come to fruition, and I've been around here long enough to see that pattern and I can tell you why that happens. Because of that, I'm making this thread to help you guys (who are requesting artists) to not fall into the same pits others have before you, and I'll also give you some tips as to how to better pitch your story and hook artists in.

First and foremost:
I cannot tell you how many of the threads here get locked because they break the forum's rules in one way or another. Just to break it down for you, you cannot post a request for an artist until you have 20 posts. Period. The end. This forum is meant to be a community, not just a place for you to plop down a proposal and leave. To do so indicates that you don't care at all about the artists here, because it implies that you're only in it for yourself, which is actually a huge turn-off to most artists, shockingly enough. This rule helps you slide in and prevents you from looking like a total jackass when demanding collaboration.
The other big one: email addresses cannot be posted in main forum, nor can they be shared in PMs. We have an automatic filter to prevent you from posting emails. This is because prior to this rule, we often dealt with spam, both from members receiving it as well as spambots raiding and leaving bad links everywhere. It's a safety measure.
Lastly, it is heavily suggested that you indicate whether the project will be paid or unpaid in the subject title. If you can't pay the artist, tell them in the subject line. If you can, it'll really get their interest if you tell them before they even click your thread that you're willing to pay them. Of course, I also shouldn't have to tell you that you're more likely to get someone to work with you if you offer up some cash. My observations tell me that unpaid or "we can split the money when we become famous" requests are ignored 90% of the time. On that note, regarding paying your artists: It's different for everyone. Different artists around here have different methods of payment.

Now that the formalities are out of the way, formalities!
How would you feel working with a total stranger who may or may not be prodding you with false information just to rip you off later? Yeah, probably a good idea to make yourself look like a human being and not a scambot. Some good ways to do that include:
>Introducing yourself at the Welcome Center. Interacting with people makes you more approachable and your offer more viable and far, far less sketchy.
>Proofreading your post for any and all capitalization, spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors. Yes, English is hard, but you're supposed to be a writer, remember? This is the artist request area, after all, not the writer's wanted board. If your post looks like a kindergartner spat it out, it doesn't make your writing skills look very good, which often makes readers think that your story is probably on the same level.
>Actually giving an idea of what your story is even about- genre, setting, themes, audience, etc.
>>Better yet, post a few chapters in the Manga Creations board under the Writer's section! Or, if your story is still a work in progress, make use of the Develop Your Story board. Plenty of members here will be more than happy to help you out.
>Check out the Art Galleries. We have plenty of talented artists around here (certainly plenty with more skill than I). Hop around, talk with them about their work, or just do what I do and look at their first page in comparison to their most recent page and feel better about yourself because most everyone started out not producing god-tier manga masterpieces. It can be inspirational to watch the growth.

Doing all these things will then probably put you at right around twenty posts, which will make this area "legal" for you to use, and they make finding an artist a little easier.

As a bonus, we have plenty of writing workshops for you to develop your skills and even a section for fanfiction, which I love to make use of when I'm practicing for another project. On top of that, there are plenty of members around here who have made threads dedicated to different styles of writing specifically geared towards making manga panels and better communication for writer and artist. Those are definitely worth poking around at.

And, to top it all off, if you ever want to start doing your own art, we can help you with that, too. We accept people from all walks here, and our artists are top notch at helping you figure out the hard stuff about art.

Happy hunting, aspiring authors!

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