Fantasy angels

There’s a saying that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I was pondering that today as I was playing with story ideas.

As I finish the final Malevolent book, I find that I have a clean slate. I can write anything! Any new book I want! Any new series I can dream up! So I started jotting down ideas.

In the old Spacetime series, the Big Bad was a fallen angel named Inferna. She was flat and mustache-twirly. “Mwahaha, it’s good to be bad!” By the end, I couldn’t take her seriously. It’s one reason I scrapped it all and started over. She was a good enough villain when I was 18, but not now that I’m older.

Since we’re reworking everything in the Spacetime universe, I’m pondering if I can do the fallen angel thing a different way. For one thing, these are mortal angels. People with wings and divine powers. But they die if you stab them enough times. (With a wooden stake? Hm. It would be fun to put a bunch of rules on them.)

One of the things an angelus can accomplish is becoming a world ascendant. Through some process my worldbuilding hasn’t yet covered, a mortal angelus can become an immortal world ascendant, that is, the caretaker of a planet. They’re in charge of keeping it life-supporting, managing gravity and other physical forces, and most of all, overseeing what magic is used, and how much. They also watch out for invading races from other worlds who might be out from under the eye of their own ascendant.

Let’s jump on a rabbit trail for a minute. In World of Warcraft, the blood elves are only called that because the source of their magic got corrupted. So they somehow managed to procure a Naaru (the WoW version of angels), and sucked magic out of it to get holy magic for their paladins. In game, it was one of those awful mixed-emotions moments when you find this out.

Anyway, over the course of the story, the Naaru gets so much power drained that it becomes a void creature that you have to fight. It’s a raid boss, actually.

So, while thinking about this, I wondered what might happen to one of these world ascendant angels if they were corrupted. Would they abandon their world? Would they destroy it? What might happen to the people living on a world with a corrupt ascendant? And would there be any way for my heroes to kill the angel/redeem it?

Talk about a fun story arc.

Anyway, playing with this idea of a corrupted world and a fallen ascendant, would redemption even be possible for a creature like that? In real life, the rules for real angels are different than for humans. Jesus died for man, not angels, offering them redemption.

But what about a fantasy world? What if this ascendant was ruined against its will (like blood elves draining all the holy magic from a Naaru until all that’s left is void)? Would it be fated to die? Would the heroes be fated to kill it? Is absolute corruption reversible?

In a world where time travel is possible, fate becomes a fluid thing. Pasts and futures can be changed. Effects can come before cause.

What do you think? Would a being corrupted by the deeds of others be barred from salvation?

Top Five Fandoms I’m No Longer In

I borrowed this topic from Thrice Read, who did it as part of their Top Five Wednesday theme. I loved the idea of talking about fandoms we’ve loved and abandoned, so here we go:

5. Harry Potter


I started reading Harry Potter when book 4 came out. The controversy over them was raging, and I’d heard both sides of the argument pretty thoroughly. So I picked up the first Harry Potter and the first Redwall (both of which were very popular at the time). Harry was so much more fun than Redwall. My whole family really got into the Harry books, trying to guess what might happen next, trying to guess who the Half-Blood Prince might be, and so on. But after book 7 … I don’t know. I’m done. I still admire the books for being a great story, but that ship has sailed.

4. World of Warcraft


I played WoW with my siblings from the first version onward through the first two expansions. I had a top-level character with epic gear, did Heroic Dungeons and raids … and then I burned out. I had babies and less and less free time. Then the fourth expansion came out, which changed the original game … and I don’t know. I never got into it after that. I still buy a month now and then, but it’s such a time sink, I just can’t get back into it.

3. Doctor Who

DOCTOR WHO *embargoed 19th March*

I watched a smattering of Doctors 9 and 10, but I started really watching it with 11. And, let’s face it, the story arc for 11 had some real high points. Trying to guess what River Song would do next, and if she would really kill the Doctor? And the whole arc with the Doctor trying to escape his own death at the hands of the Impossible Astronaut? Silence will fall? The crack in the wall? The Weeping Angels? Oh man, it was amazing.

Then the head writer started writing Sherlock instead, and the brilliance faded. The Eleventh Doctor kind of fell by the wayside, his series ending with a whimper. Then the Twelfth Doctor started up, and instead of the dignity I felt the Doctor should have, he was overly silly. I fell off the Doctor Who wagon and never got back on.

2. His Dark Materials


A friend gave me the first book when it was still called Northern Lights (it was changed to the Golden Compass later, which annoyed me, because the alethiometer wasn’t a compass). That first book was AWESOME. Then the second book came out, and it was … well, still good, but where was this all going? Then the third book came out. My friend and I read it … and we never spoke of it again. You don’t split up the main characters and take away their powers at the end, man. Growing up isn’t as horrible as all that. But this book makes adulthood into this horrible, horrible thing. Not to mention all the other … uh … issues this author seemed to have. We’ll leave it at that. Talk about disappointing.

Number 1: The Raven Boys.
I picked up the first book when it came out because I had liked Shiver so much and I wanted to read more of the author’s work. Raven Boys took me on a wild romp with preppy school boys, psychics, a treasure hunt, leylines, ghosts, and all kinds of fantastic magical realism stuff that flirted with real magic. The second book, Dream Thieves, was even better. Then the author started talking on Twitter about the directions she was taking the characters … directions I honestly didn’t think worked for the characters … and then book 4 came out .. and all I had to do was read the reviews. Very disappointed reviews. The big reveal was a bust. The big reversal was flubbed. It was like getting to the ending of LOST and going, “What, did the author run out of ideas or something?”

So there’s my top five no-longer-fandoms. How about you? Do you have any fandoms that you jumped into and then left later on?

Random sketches

Just some random sketches for tonight. I feel like I’m in creative limbo, wanting to write one thing and wanting to edit something else.

Also, my current story doesn’t have enough oomph. I have to ask some more questions about it to myself. I mean, with Jake and Revi, the finale was always a big cross-world battle against the bad guy. But with this one, eh … the ending isn’t dragging me along in excitement. Right now it’s just a political conflict between some dragons ending in war. Yawn.

I want something BIG and STRANGE and ELECTRIFYING at the end of this story. I’m just not sure what yet. My original idea was lich-drakes, and then World of Warcraft’s Wrath of the Lich King expansion came out, and they did lich-drakes. Heck, they had a whole game zone dedicated to them.

What kind of weirdness can I get up to in a world of dragons? I don’t really want to do the Migard serpent, because that’s been done. I guess I kind of thought the Machine would be the Big Bad. Then I met him, and he’s more like Marvin the depressed robot from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Not quite world-threatening, and very amusing for the other characters to interact with, really.

Pondering …

Pretty game art

I’ve been playing World of Warcraft lately, and I have to say, the artwork in the Cataclysm expansion is phenomenal. Take a look at some of these screenshots I snapped last night.

Deepholm 1

Deepholm 2

Deepholm 3

And that’s with all the graphics turned off on my ancient computer, too.

So yes, that’s where I’ve been. Enjoying WoW and not doing anything remotely creative. :-p

Worgen Sonic, basic shading

Back to work on Worgen Sonic in Warcraft armor. I actually would have gotten a lot farther on the background, but every time I clicked in the top right corner of the canvas, Painter would crash. So finally I just threw on a solid black layer and erased through it to show the gradient underneath. It’ll be fun to put on the highlights and details, but I thought I was lucky getting this far tonight, with Painter being ornery.

Previous posts:

Worgen Warcraft Sonic sketch

Attack of the in-jokes

So I was playing World of Warcraft today, and ran across some oddly-named enemies.

First off, the joke, originally from a comic strip of Penny Arcade..

And then one of the screenshots I managed to get. Click to enlarge, and mostly just read the speech text in the bottom left corner.

Witchalok: Tremble in fear as I call forth the mighty Doomskull! Behold the sheer size of it! Are you not afraid, mortal? Have you ever witnessed doom of this magnitude?

One of the Witchaloks I ran into actually did summon Wolfoids (they ran around pointlessly and did nothing), but I didn’t think to get a screenshot until it was too late. I imagine there’s a comic or a podcast somewhere that talks about the doom skull.

And yes, the Witchalok does throw Witchalok blades at you. They’re orange glowing blades, exactly like in the comic strip.

This non-art post brought to you by far too much electronic entertainment.

PS: And while I’m on the subject of humorous references to pop culture in Warcraft …

What does this remind you of?

Dog holding key … guy in cage …

Gasp! An update!

Howdy, folks. I’m currently at the other end of the country, far from my sketchbook, my tablet, my scanner, and all the other art-related things that make life worth living.

About the only thing I can do is write. So I’ve been writing a story in my head. Really, I’m working on a sequel to my worgen story, and it’s mostly about a paladin who is trying to figure out the worgen characters’ backstory and therefore if they are dangerous.

One thing that amuses me about World of Warcraft is their religion of The Light. It’s like the most generic religion you can think of, except that they have cathedrals and priests and such, so it’s obviously a spin on Catholicism. So when writing fanfic, you can pretty much plug in any religion you want.

Last week we were sitting in church, and the pastor was reading from Isaiah 11 (since it was a Christmas service and all). And he read the following paragraph, and I went, “Oh! It sounds exactly like the kind of paladin I’m trying to write!”

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

So Jesus is a paladin? DANG STRAIGHT!

Anyway, I think I just found my whole paladin philosophy, right there in a nutshell. I’m totally sneaking it into the story somewhere now.

World of Warcraft reminiscence

I play this game called World of Warcraft.

I was gotten into it by my sister, who begged me and begged me to play after one of my brothers got her into it. I warned her that I would get really badly addicted to it.

And I did.

Mind you, this was back in the days of what they call Vanilla WoW, where the level cap was still 60 and the quest chains were long, boring grinds of killing dozens and dozens of things.

I think what captured me was my first experiences with the world. I have high hopes for the expansion coming out, because I’m hoping it reworks the old content into something new and exciting again.

Here are some of the things I found exciting or creepy when I first started playing.

I rolled a troll rogue as my very first character. The main reason being that rogues looked easy to play, and trolls get to ride raptors.

By the time I reached level 15ish and was running around this zone called the Barrens (think African savanna), my dad and younger brothers were all playing, too. So we offered each other tips, or good gear or weapons that we found, and basically learned to play the game.

Out in the Barrens, most of the monsters you meet (otherwise known as mobs) are fairly reasonable things, like lions, zebras, giraffes, raptors and tallstriders.

So I was questing out around this one oasis, and spotted a big cave. I went inside, and almost got slaughtered by the elite raptors standing just inside. I send a chat message to one of my brothers who was on at the time. “What is the Wailing Caverns?”

“Oh, don’t go in there. That’s a dungeon.”

Now you tell me.

So as I played, I gradually began to collect quests for the Wailing Caverns. I tried to sneak in a couple of times, but the monsters got me every time. You just needed a group to survive, it seemed.

Finally, one Sunday morning, my Dad, brothers and me got together and went inside the Wailing Caverns.

It’s interesting in there. Like a jungle inside a cave. And there was weird stuff.

See these slime things? Once you get their health down, they split off into another slime, and you have to kill it again. Which royally creeped me out. I hadn’t seen any other monsters remotely like that before.

Then there’s these humans in there who turn into giant snakes in the middle of combat.

I stood on a pile of dead snakes and slimes, looking at them and going, “What in the heck are these things?”

And my Dad said, “Welcome to the Wailing Caverns!”

We didn’t make it all the way through. We spent five hours, got lost, then called it a day. It’s really a horribly-designed dungeon. But it was one of my formative Warcraft experiences, because it creeped me out and intrigued me at the same time.

Another of those formative experiences happened round about the same time. I got sick of the hot, yellow Barrens, and hopped a zeppelin to some place called Tirisfal Glades. That sounded nice and cool.

Turns out it’s where the undead start out. It was dark and gloomy and foresty, and everything is undead. You have zombie humans and zombie gnolls and zombie dogs and zombie bats. Zombie zombie zombie.

I played quite a few quests in Tirisfal Glades, but after a while it got depressing. The quests were so sad and morbid. “Oh, please go kill my zombie son and husband so we can bury them!”

“Oh, my hands are so cold as the Plague takes me over! Can you get me stuff to make mittens?”

Yeah. After a while I couldn’t take it anymore, so I wandered off into the zone next door, a slightly brighter place called Silverpine Forest.

Silverpine was very pretty. Except for these broken lampposts.

As you got into the real zombie-centers, it got creepier and creepier. No NPCs. No quests. No towns. Just creepy pine forest and wolves and zombies.

I went back to the Barrens to warm up.

But I remembered it. You see, positive or negative, the undead zones had elicited an emotional response in me. I didn’t care much for the undead, but now I felt sorry for them.

Later on I moved to the Alliance, but I still have a deep affection for the Horde, because it was my first Warcraft experience. If I had started Alliance, I don’t think I would have liked it nearly as much.

Blizzard story contest

Blizzard is having a short story contest, and the deadline is August 23rd.

My husband is encouraging me to enter, so I’ve been working on my little werewolf/worgen story. The word limit is 7500, and I’m over 13000, so there will be quite a bit of trimming. But all I have left is the climax anyway, so once I finish that, I can go back and cut, cut, cut. Elements of Style is my friend during editing. 🙂

Anyway, here’s an excerpt from said worgen story. This sort of thing has probably been done to death, but I just haven’t read many werewolf books, because they all seem to be horror and I don’t enjoy blood and guts. If anybody knows of some good ones that didn’t come into being after Twilight, I’d be much obliged.

The band started up a spirited waltz, and Bernard watched as the dozens of pretty dresses and crisp suits swirled onto the dance floor. Charlotte was in the thick of it, dancing with a tall, handsome lawyer. She never danced with Bernard. He watched her, and felt a faint twinge of jealousy. Then he wondered why. Their marriage was all but name only. He had never messed with other women, though. He felt that he was married and needed to uphold that. He wondered if Charlotte felt the same, and watched her twirl and dance with the lawyer. He doubted it.

The dances went on, and Bernard browsed the buffet. It was excellent. He hobnobbed with the other men, as he was expected to, and flirted courteously with the ladies. But he kept thinking of that wobbling fence, and wishing that he could check his scrollstone for a return message from Kryn.

It was nearing midnight, and Bernard was feeling fatigued and resting in a chair, when he heard a strange sound from outside. An animal howling. Then the sound of breaking glass from the front of the mansion.

He rose to his feet and stared across the room at the ballroom entrance. The servents were peering out, then hurrying out in alarm. But people kept dancing and the music kept playing.

Bernard stood frozen, heart beginning to frantically pound. He had expected something like this, yet he had no idea what to do.

Then the screams began.

Terrible screams, screams of dying women mixed with a horrible roaring and growling. The music stuttered to a halt, and the roomful of handsomely dressed people turned to stare.

Bernard spotted Charlotte as she rose to her feet from a chair across the room, where she had been resting her feet in the lap of the young lawyer. Bernard hurried toward her, shouldering past other staring, frozen people. No one paid any attention to him, for the screams were growing louder.

“Charlotte,” he said, grabbing her arm.

She looked at him, her face white as chalk. “Bernard,” she gasped, “what’s happening?”

He pulled the elixirs out of his pocket and pressed one into her hand. “Drink this. It might save you.”

“What is it?” she whispered, looking at the shimmering blue liquid.

“Drink it!” he commanded, uncorking his own vial. He drank it in one gulp. Charlotte sipped hers, made a face, then finished it and laid the vial on the table.

That was when the worgen entered the ballroom.

Five of them bounded through the doors, some rearing up on their hind legs to peer over the crowd. They were much taller than a human, all shaggy gray fur, long canine faces with bared fangs, and long arms ending in dagger-like claws. Then they dropped to all fours and sprang into the crowd, wolves among sheep.

The ballroom erupted into pandemonium. Everyone tried to run away from the worgen, but only suceeded in tripping over others and themselves. Worst were the women in their choking skirts, getting tangled in them and falling, only to find their throats bared to the worgens’ fangs. People were opening windows and leaping out, but from the noise outside, there were worgen outside the mansion, too.

Bernard pulled Charlotte around the circumference of the room, making for the balcony door. Many people had fled already, and the crowd was thinning. The floor was splattered and smeared with blood.

Four of the worgen were mangling and killing every human in their paths, but the fifth worgen, with a human-like cunning, was only biting. He bit only arms or legs, only deep enough to draw blood. He saw Bernard and Charlotte, and sprang at them from across the ballroom.

Bernard leaped in front of Charlotte to shield her from the gray furred monster charging them, and yelled in pain as its teeth sank through his sleeve and into the flesh of his forearm. Then it flung him aside with astonishing strength and siezed Charlotte’s bare white arm. Its teeth flashed, then it turned and bounded away, leaving Bernard and Charlotte staring at the blood running down each other’s arms.

Another worgen ran toward them, but saw that they had been bitten, and it ran out its tongue and laughed instead. It leaped out a nearby window, and they heard screams as it mangled someone else.

“Why did it leave us alone?” whispered Charlotte.

“We’re bitten,” said Bernard grimly. “We’re now under the worgen curse, just like them.”

Charlotte looked at the blood running down her arm in horror. “We’re … going to turn into one of those things?”