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Members Workshops / Re: SKETCH SURVIVAL!!!!!!!!
« Last post by legomaestro on Today at 06:16:40 PM »
Day 140

General Manga writer discussions / Re: Writer Discussion Table
« Last post by Coryn on Today at 01:42:58 PM »
Oh I had the motivation, which is what makes it so annoying. I just couldn't think straight.

The worst downside or aging is the day long hangovers I tell you. They say they'll grow to two days in your 30s as well. What fun. Can't wait to lose whole weekends and not just Sunday.
Develop Your Story / Re: Charred Life (Rewritten)
« Last post by Echo_River on May 26, 2020, 11:20:39 PM »
Dream III

Something was off.

A stench of sickness hit me like a wave.

Don’t go any farther!

My feet turned and I almost doubled back on instinct when my foot caught on something and I tripped headfirst to the ground.


My cry of alarm fell on deaf ears.

My eyes fell upon a pair of severed feet splayed out of a bush.

My stomach revolted.

I tried to cover my mouth to stifle the rising disgust.

A rush of panic and puke spat from my mouth. Weak and shaky, I crawled my way to a tree and crumpled at its base shivering.

“I-I can’t - I just can’t -“ I cried.

It’s pointless. It’s useless.

Nineteen. I counted nineteen corpses littering the forest floor in contorted shapes.

Puddles of blood rippled in the dirt recesses.

Broken weapons.

Jagged black marks scarred the trees.

Had Xehann done all of this? Was he among the dead?

“He’s still alive,” I choked, clinging to the faintest sense of life force throbbing in the distance.

They’d sent this many after us. He’d taken out this many after us.

Why wasn’t he done yet?

There couldn’t be... there couldn’t be something he couldn’t win against? That was impossible.

He’ll take care of it. Don’t be an idiot and waste your life on this!

“No, something’s not right.”

There shouldn’t have been any hope left in me.

I felt sick. Cold. Tired.

Dread held me in the pit of my stomach.

But we weren’t dead yet. There was still hope.

I pushed myself up on shaking arms. Onto my distressed legs.

Stop! Stop it!

To the end of the trail I struggled, up against gravity and my inner screams.

When the trees parted, there I saw...

Chapter 15: Code Silver

Roun rushed to the washroom and hung himself over the sink. He took deep breaths while his stomach roiled, but it didn’t bring up anything. After a couple uncertain minutes, his heartbeat throbbing in his ears, he lowered his shoulders with a long sigh. With some chagrin he noticed his hands shaking against the counter.

This is ridiculous. There’s no way I'll be a Warden like this, Roun scoffed inwardly. Practices, showing off, pretending to be the know-it-all, and not accomplishing anything. Some role model he was turning out to be. Every night when dreams came to haunt him, he had to acknowledge the one fear holding him back. Every morning when he woke up, he refused to accept it and thus continued his charade.

It made him sick. He tried to fool himself it was going to be okay

Roun knew the Wardens looked upon him skeptically, heard the whispers of the village children. Only Dave looked up to him to a certain degree, and that was quickly being replaced with the awe of their cousins’ abilities. The forest was awakening Dave’s Acor genetics, and it wouldn’t be long before Roun would be left behind.

What should I do? Roun thought to himself, looking up into the bathroom mirror. What a pale face that looked back at him. He scowled at his reflection. The scowl broke into a confident smirk. When he let it go, his face fell back into the blank expression.

“Tch…” Roun headed back to his room, thinking hard as his sleepy brain would let him. The one thing that might improve their chances . . . he wondered what Dave would think about it. After the commotion yesterday, they never got a chance to further discuss it when Jaanes discovered the broken materials, blamed them for it, and then proceeded to have them build the gazebo as promised.

Approaching the bedroom, Roun heard voices. Low and muffled, they came from the ground floor. He glanced into the room to confirm an empty bed. Dave and one other person were downstairs then. Quietly, he padded across the carpet to the railing. Peering over the edge, he saw two pairs of legs standing in the hall below.

Dave’s voice drifted up. Roun went still.

“What were you doing there?” That alarmed tone. Definitely Uncle Jaanes.

Dave struggled to reply.

“You didn’t go to the forbidden areas, did you?” Jaanes’ voice pitched up.

“No, I was just helping her pick spax-berries –” Dave tried to say.

“Just the two of you?”

Roun held his breath, feeling the tension in the air. Dave’s silence answered the question.

Uncle Jaanes’ voice dropped low, and Roun couldn’t make out his words though he strained his ears, but he discerned the stern force behind it. Eventually, his uncle left the house, closing the door on a stifling note.

“Everything okay?”

Dave looked up to see Roun hanging over the railing. He scratched at his forehead. “Not really.”

Roun came down. “What’s wrong?”

“I got -" Dave sighed. "-I got grounded.  Aside from the Family Area and practice, I’m not allowed to explore . . . without proper supervision . . . I was just trying to ask him something . . . “ Dave looked genuinely upset.

Roun gaped. “Grounded? How come?”

His cousin rubbed the back of his neck, looking uncomfortable. Whatever it was, Roun wasn’t going to get it out of him standing here.

“Come on, let’s have something to eat.” Roun coaxed Dave into the kitchen, rummaging through a few cupboards to find bowls and food. “Did something happen?”

Dave sat at the kitchen island, taking his time to respond. He stared with a strange vacant expression for a few awkward seconds. In the end, he shrugged and said. “I went into the Deep Woods. Same day we had the incident at the training grounds.”

Roun almost did a spittake. Technically, none of them should have left the grounds after the incident. There were certainly going to be repercussions for leaving while the investigation was stil underway. “You went into the Deep Woods?” He turned with cereal box in hand.

Dave leaned back reflexively. “With Shira.”

“How’d he find out?”

“He heard it from a wolf, apparently."

Roun flinched. If that was the same wolf he had asked to keep an eye on Dave, then part of this would be his fault. He shook off the thought. “You should have called me. I would have wanted to go too.”

“Well –” Dave glanced askance.

Roun pointed a small spoon at him. “Did you see any animals? Anything weird? Ghosts?”

 Dave blinked. “Ghosts?”

Roun poured himself a bowl of little toast shaped cereal, lifting the milk jug high to make a mini waterfall. “Lots of dead people there from the war. Wouldn’t be surprised if you saw a couple.”

The comment made his cousin oddly quiet for a moment. “Do they . . . do anything?”

Roun shrugged, passing breakfast to him. “What do ghosts do? I dunno. Hang around? Haunt? Deep woods are pretty haunted. I’m surprised Shira let you go with her – scrap that, she shouldn’t even be going into the Deep Woods alone. Seriously, what were you two thinking?”

Instead of looking guilty, Dave held a spaced-out expression. His focus returned with a nervous smile as he idly stirred the toast cereal. “Picking berries... I was hoping to see the Noturn Wolves.”

“Oh, there huh." Roun understood quickly. "Ain’t gonna find any wolves near a negative energy pocket.”

“What are negative energy pockets?”

The intensity with which Dave asked the question startled Roun, but his cousin looked less dead now. He explained as he ate, “Remember how I told you the village was built on the old Zerakis experiment test sites?” He waved his spoon out to the forest. “Lots of those experiments were done in the Deep Woods, another reason why you shouldn’t go alone. Tons of scattered off-limits areas you might run into.”

“But the pockets?”

“Experiments gone wrong, I suppose. The Zerakis mostly dealt with research involving Universal Energy  – please tell me you know what that is.”

“The threads that hold our universe together.”

“Thank you.” Roun chowed down a large spoonful in approval. “Mess with Universal Energy, and you get a tampered version of it. Namely, negative energy.

“Is it dangerous?” Dave asked, completely forgetting his food.

“Negative energy is exactly as it sounds – cold, dark, gives you a sadness puzzle. Where it touches the earth it never goes away, creating a disturbance in the natural makeup of reality. It’s why the animals hate them. Just hope you don’t ever step in one. I’ve heard it sucks the life out of you.”

Dave blanched. “Oh. I’ll keep that in mind next time.”

“Next time being when I go with you – and then you won’t have to worry about it because I know how to avoid them.” Roun tipped back his bowl, consuming the rest of his food. “Are you done? Because we need to get to practice.”

Dave gave him a questioning look. “In your PJs?”

“Hey, worst case, the war starts when you’re on the toilet. Think there’ll be any time to flush and wash your hands?”
“Stop it,” Dave burst out laughing.

Roun smiled. Looking down, he observed his warped reflection in the spoon. Maybe there was still some way to work this out. A way to prove he still had it in him, to prove to the Wardens he was qualified to enter the festival, and to come out ahead of the other families. It involved the type of evidence you had to create yourself.

“It doesn’t always have to end in a massacre,” he whispered to himself. They could still win this – as long as they didn’t get caught.

* * *

“’Don’t get caught’?” Dave said worriedly. “I don’t know if I like the sound of that.”

“Relax, it’s not as bad as it seems. By my calculations, it was about time the earth started to move,” Roun replied in reassuring tones. Dave’s reaction to his words was within Roun’s expectations when he told his cousin he might have an easier way to progress into the festival. He didn’t deny that those words, “easy” and “don’t get caught” had an implication behind that normal people would be alarmed at.

It was Dave’s first summer in the village. He would catch on soon.

Mid-morning, the two of them were off to another early practice. As usual, Roun had left the house somewhat behind schedule, and they ran with breakfast still fresh in their stomachs.

"But - how do you know it was the Nionis? Not an accident or someone from our own family?"

"Um, past experience? Besides, the point of the festival is to see which family comes out on top. You wouldn't sabotage your own team. Knowing the other families, they wouldn't pull off something like that. It's guaranteed the Nionis - they've done this before."

Before as in, does this happen every summer? Dave had to wonder.

“Today’s training exercise is a gonna be a treasure hunt,” Roun said breathlessly as he led his cousin through yet another obscure trail through the forest that involved ducking under trunks and occasionally leaping off dirt mounds.

"Sounds a bit too innocent."

"Trust me, finding anything in this forest is like picking a raindrop from a storm. The upside is we do this every year and I know the forest like the back of my hand. The actual exercise is Forest Sleuthing, but you'll find it's more of a race than application."

“That doesn’t sound like a real thing,” Dave remarked. “What is it – deducting forest signs?”

“Not far off the mark. You’ll see when we get there. When it’s over, I’m going to gather the others, and then we’ll talk, assuming nothing happens before then,” Roun said.

War, he said, Dave noted that he wore the same grim smile when he saw the damaged boards from yesterday. Not an actual war, I hope.

Wouldn’t that be fun? The voice added in the back of his mind. Dave shook his head.

In a location different from their previous training spots, the usual crowd of children from the Tiuruh Family was split into four groups of around four each. Present were a couple of Tiuruh Wardens Dave had previously seen lead before, Warden Coyen, whose face reminded him of a sharp-eyed dog, and Warden Eleyew, whose similar features said the wardens were brothers.

“Step it up, Roun. We don’t have all day,” Coyen crouched on a broken tree stump as if he’d been waiting for them. “You can go over there. Dave, over there.”

Going where he was directed, Dave was relieved and happy to see that Kon and Dae were put with him. Roun tagged along for some reason. The last person to complete their squad was a younger girl.

“This is my sis, Alena,” Kon introduced. “Her second year here.”

“Kon’s family aces in tracking,” Dae said to Dave. “We’ve got this covered.”

“Take care of him,” Roun said, causing Dave to chuckle uneasily. He then sidled towards Dae, whispering softly as he passed her, “Code Silver.” Moving to the next group as he made his way to his team, he said the same thing.

Dae stared after him, her eyes slowly turning into slits. She twisted around to Kon. “Code Silver,” she mouthed. Kon frowned.

Warden Eleyew began his explanation of the day’s exercise. Dave listened intently. They were to retrieve their team’s object from somewhere in the forest using the tracking and scouting skills they’d been learning. So that’s what Roun meant by ‘sleuthing’. A sudden movement broke his attention. He looked to see Dae gazing across the clearing. Glancing over, he was surprised to spot Shira joining the training as well.  She appeared to be the youngest in her group. Somewhere outside of his focus Dave heard the Warden mention something about venomous plants and traps. He wondered if Shira would be able to keep up. The creases on Dae’s face betrayed a similar concern.

But that wasn’t all he noticed. He wasn’t sure if it was because of the Warden’s instruction that “anything goes if you want to devise a method to get the object”, but each of the teams seemed to be eyeing each other. Gestures passed behind backs. Subtle nods tracked from side to side. A few eyes met, blinked, and broke off, as if some secret message were being relayed. Was this exercise that intense or had he missed something?

“You have a time limit of one hour and a half. I’ll give you all fifteen minutes to prepare. Just remember, the first team that returns gets the rest of the afternoon free. Last place has to clean up the pig pens,” Warden Eleyew finished speaking, and it felt like they’d landed back into real time flow.

“Pig pens…” Dave didn’t like the sound of that. Neither did any of the others, judging by the groans and sighs. The energy turned serious quickly as his team gathered together to devise a plan. They were given a round little wooden tokens engraved with the image of a snake. Apparently, it was a clue for the location of their target, which would bear the same mark. Kon and Dae did most of the talking with routine familiarity – detached, indifferent, and trivial. It seemed to Dave their minds were fixated on something else. It unnerved him, and from her blank face it looked like Kon’s sister had as little clue as he did on the matter.

Warden Eleyew shouted over the rising hubbub, “When the time limit is up and you aren’t back at the grove after half an hour, we will come looking for you. Did I miss anything?”

Warden Coyen smirked. “You ditch, you’re done.”

“Automatic penalty if you leave without notice,” Eleyew clarified. “That’s it. With that said, your time starts…. Now!”
The exercise began. Each team sprang into the forest with millisecond precision. Dave followed in their haste and tasted a bad wind.

In a moment, the children were gone, leaving a tense air behind. Amidst the rustling leaves, no other sound was heard. The Wardens held their breaths.

Warden Coyen chuckled. “They’re growing up.”

Warden Eleyew let out a sigh. “If only they could grow up faster.”

“But why? Let them enjoy youth.”

“That’ll only make it harder for them later on…”

They listened to the forest sounds once more. Sitting down, Eleyew removed his watch and set it on the ground in front of him. Second by second the timer counted down.

“Hey, did you see that?”

“What?” Eleyew looked at his brother to see Coyen peering intensely into the thick overgrowth with sharp eyes. He himself saw nothing out of the ordinary.

“Nevermind,” Coyen muttered. “Just thought I saw something else.” His lips curled back into an unpleasant smile. “Something we might not have put in there.”

* * *

The first aforementioned traps activated five minutes into the practice. Dave accidentally triggered a pitfall when he strayed off the same path Alena and Kon were making. Piled leaves and branches collapsed into a gaping hole in the ground. He wasn’t sure if there was anything at the bottom and he didn’t really want to know. He could also hear other mechanisms being set off by the other teams nearby.

“I said to be our fourth eye, Dave, but save the sight-seeing for later, mate,” Kon chuckled.

“Sorry,” Dave said, flustered. Since he wasn’t as used to tracking as they were, he had been tasked with keeping an eye on their surroundings. It was disorientating.

I’ll be the fourth eye, you just focus through your own eyes, the voice snickered.

“Might as well,” Dave muttered, and let it work. Keeping his attention on following his team, he suddenly found that his senses became much clearer. His eyes would be drawn to a particular spot of ground and the outline of the trap would make itself known to him. Kon easily avoided these things, but Dave shivered to think what would have happened if he didn’t have the extra help.

Even tree-bound as she was, Dae was not excluded from dangers. She narrowly dodged nearly invisible nets and webs hanging over the ground. “One of the teams just passed us to the right,” she called down. “Whoa!” Having averted her eyes briefly, she nearly missed her landing on a branch. The rough impact caused a large yellow blossom to explode with spores. Dae dropped down beside Dave.

“That stinks,” she coughed.

“Keep your wits about you, monkey,” Kon remarked. “They really rigged this up today.”

“It’s a lemur and I don’t need you telling me anything,” Dae returned crossly.

“Shira will be fine,” Dave said to her.

Dae shot him a look and sighed. “Yeah, I know.”

“But,” Dave frowned. “There really are a lot of traps here.”

About twenty minutes in, the terrain turned rough. Erupted tree roots that looked like several lazy giants blocking the way with their legs created steep inclines in the land. Flamboyant hot pink flowers poked up between the crevices. Kon halted hesitantly, guarding Alena behind him. “Do not touch those on your life. The smallest contact creates the nastiest smarts. Fell in that one year. Unfortunately, we don’t have time to circle ‘round. We’ll just have to go through.” So saying, he began carefully jumping from root to root, guiding his sister along. “The object location should be just ahead anyhow.”

Dave planted a foot on the first hilly root when he stopped. At first, he thought the frequencies in his ear had gone dead, but the high-pitch noise sounded more melodious than annoying, almost as if something was singing. If he listened harder, he could almost make out words…

“Ouch,” Dae cried out. She’d slipped, catching herself above the flowers. Dave remembered what he was doing and leapt over to help her up.

“Did you hear that?” he asked in a daze.

“What?” Dae grunted back. She was getting annoyed. “Animals, probably.”

The route of pink flowers ended without further mishap. Pushing on they came to a clearing. It was similar to the one he had seen Roun in the other day, a little grove filled with little blue plants, but the statue was different. Were there many of these around? In the centre was a stone snake-like figure, wrapped up in vines and leaves. It held a black rock orb in its open jaws.

“There’s our ‘snake’. It’s a Maned Cat-Lizard to be exact. Big bunglers, but so shy you don’t usually see them,” Kon explained. “I’m certain our object should be here somewhere. Split up and start looking. They wouldn’t have made this easy with such a lengthy time limit. Dae, head in the game, please. Unless you think the object is in the next clearing over.”

“I just thought I saw Shira.” Dae stared off into the trees.

While Kon and Alena investigated the edge of the clearing, Dave thought to scout the statue itself. It didn’t look like the plants were dangerous. He pushed them aside, marveling at the carved symbols on the stone, worn and old. His eye fell on faded brown stains splashed there from who knows how long ago. Another piece of his unknown heritage. Or perhaps a memory of a time when his predecessors also trained here.

Maybe there’s something dangerous here, the voice hinted.

“Doubt it. Don’t think they would have set up a training exercise with the risk that something could kill us,” Dave replied softly, making sure the others didn’t hear him. He saw that Dae now joined in the search, roaming through the upper branches.

Next, he inspected the black orb, the size of a basketball, its surface so glossy he could see a blur of his reflection and a little behind him. He hoped this wasn’t the object. What trouble it would be to bring it back. Still, he checked around it to see if it bore any lizard image, running his hand over it. The orb was cool to the touch and smooth as it looked.

Doesn’t it remind you of how mom likes to polish the wooden furniture at home?

Dave considered the comment as he played around with it. With a little coaxing, the orb shifted on its base with a click, like it had settled into something. He paused. Another click came from the other side of the statue. Then a strange smell hit his hose. He stepped back.

“Hey, guys?” Dave searched for the others, feeling uneasy. He didn’t see Kon or Dae, but on the far side of the clearing Alena crouched in the bushes. The smell becoming stronger by the second, he headed over to her, dread rising.

He sensed it before he was halfway to her. About a step back from where she stood, a well-concealed trap, and she hadn’t spotted it. By then, he was running.

“Alena, it’s not safe there!” Dave yelled.

Alena looked at him blankly, then with complete shock. She stumbled backwards, pointing at him before she vanished under leaves. Her scream and his cry were both drowned out by the sound of a deep-throated croaking.

“Alena?!” Kon rushed into the grove looking frantic. Then his face froze. Dae appeared just in time to see a giant lizard crash through the trees, the tremor knocking them all to the ground.

Kon’s face turned white. His voice was a scarce breath.  “Maned Cat-Lizard.”

NTS: Edits to be made
Chapter 15:
- I know I'm going to have to do some serious editing afterwards here and possibly some rearranging
- Namely:
-- Putting first conversation in an earlier chapter maybe
-- Needs more Nioni encounters to solidify animosity between Nionis and Tiuruhs
General Manga writer discussions / Re: Writer Discussion Table
« Last post by legomaestro on May 26, 2020, 07:33:43 PM »
Ah, I did get some legendary hangovers last weekend. Slavik beer. Huge bottles. Little motivation though
Manga Art Gallery / Re: Legomaestro's Art Box
« Last post by legomaestro on May 26, 2020, 07:31:42 PM »
Lel it just occurs to me the Ramones were named after Ramone

And I can sort of see the resemblance

Manga Art Gallery / Re: Legomaestro's Art Box
« Last post by Coryn on May 26, 2020, 07:16:14 PM »
You can't fool me Lego! That's 100% just Johnny Ramone.
General Manga writer discussions / Re: Writer Discussion Table
« Last post by Coryn on May 26, 2020, 07:10:25 PM »
Yeah, I was getting back into the groove these last few weeks, but I failed to write over the holiday weekend (I was, simply put, way too God damned hungover)
You can send it to me. If you want to you can copy Manimal as well.
Members Workshops / Re: SKETCH SURVIVAL!!!!!!!!
« Last post by legomaestro on May 26, 2020, 07:02:39 PM »
Day 139

Afro samurai screenshot
Manga Art Gallery / Re: Legomaestro's Art Box
« Last post by legomaestro on May 26, 2020, 07:01:54 PM »
Thanks a lot man!

Going to have a frustrating year lol. Heavily referencing + Colour seems to make my art better, so I'll have to remove every proud instance of what I actually enjoy drawing and just mechanically study stuff I guess. Fun times. Ah well. I'll use it as an excuse to watch more movies and anime

From The Villaness

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