Scales From Their Eyes // Pages In the Dark

OMGosh Viper Priestess (Mad McFjury)

So a bit too long ago, I joined a neat little Contest, and was blessed to be joined by a most gentlemanly gentleman with the art skills of a minor Greek god. Seriously, check him out.

JT - Viper Priestess Concept Art2 (Mad)

Anyway, so I joined this Contest with high hopes, and surprisingly actually got about halfway through a story, inspired by some siiiiiick concept art from the aforementioned artist. Alas, the Contest did not receive enough attention and foundered like a limp fish. In the mean time I determined to FINISH REGARDLESS… And so I did. Juuuuuust a year+ too late (turns out it took another Contest at a local university to get me off my duff.)

I will probably be going through this & editing it here & there; I didn’t get a chance to ‘vet it’ before sending it in. I also was forced (again, deadlines, lol) to get rid of all the Patois (Warcraft 3 Jungle Trolls tend to speak with rich Jamaican accents) & decide some things I wasn’t quite sure about; the name of the “elite group”, some character names (in particular the protagonist’s name (up to that point I had just been writing “[protag]” all over the place. Srsly)), and even one of the climactic one-liners that I just couldn’t decide between (wrote four drafts of one line, left them all in for the submission)

So, without further ado, take a look! Let me know what your thoughts are.

JT - Viper Priestess Concept Art5 (Mad)

She ran down the hallway, breathing heavily. He couldn’t be… He couldn’t have… She couldn’t dwell on it. All of her energy went into running, pounding, desperately needing to see proof. As she ran, the hallway blurring past, some small part of her mind noticed how the light streamed in at regular intervals. Light, dark, light, dark. It reminded her, not pleasantly, of running through the pillars of Aboraz. Fitting, for her world to be so in upheaval, yet that the rhythm of the night’s wonders could so escape her.

Thinking of Aboraz brought her back to that time so long ago, when she first strove to find a place among the Ophidaes, the Serpent’s Own. Unlike other clans, where proving oneself in battle or mastering the mystical arts assured entry, the Ophidaes prized subtlety and cunning most of all; the only ones worthy to worship the Scaled One were those who could be more cunning and more subtle than His children.

Each member of the Ophidaes held a truebond with a particular child of the Scaled One; anything from the lowly grass-snake to the rare and mighty anaconda. This link was forged in the ruins of the ancient Troll garden-city of Aboraz. She remembered well the ritual; being clothed only in snakeskin and being bitten by the tester’s ceremonial serpent. As the venom rushed through her body, her vision began to fade and her limbs grew cold… That is, until they thrust a special carved mojo amulet around her neck, keeping the poison from reaching her heart. She was told that unless she found and bonded with a snake-familiar upon which to place this amulet, she would succumb to the poison within days.

Finding the familiar she had named Yatha had been no small feat; the musurana had the size of a boa but the venom of a viper. Crooning prayers and walking back and forth, she had at length mesmerized the snake into a receptive state; and then, communing with the spirit of the snake as a sister, had convinced her to share her true name. This name she would
forever keep sacred. Exiting the ruins of Aboraz with her new amulet-adorned familiar wrapped around her arms… That had been a moment of great pride in her life. She was determined that it would not be her last.

Yatha now lay poised with alertness across her shoulders, coiled in contemplation. As she made it to the door of the library, all was hushed and quiet. Preparations had been made and the Festival of Molts would be going on, with it’s snakeskin lamps and elaborate dances. In fact, she had risked having to do penance for leaving as abruptly as she had… But this was all-too important. She had to make sure that… Yes. The single, nigh-invisible snake scale she had placed upon the door’s latch was undisturbed, proving that Mala’kiah had not broken in yet. Relief washed through her; the Mysteries were safe. With utmost care she undid the latch and crept into the shuttered library. The familiar aroma of musty scrolls and dried ink met her nose, and Yatha uncoiled slightly in relaxation. Easily finding a secluded corner, she settled in to wait.

Kehri’san could recall a time when the comforting aromas had been distasteful, the solace of the shelves more foreboding. It was not long after she had successfully passed her initiation that she had been given a responsibility. The Ophi’daes believed strongly that each troll was like a scale on the Great Serpent; individually unimportant but in their proper place & performing their proper function, essential. She had anticipated this, and was excited at the prospects. Would she become one of the vaunted Snake Clan warriors, lithe and deadly? Or perhaps one of the sagacious ambassadors, tasked with gathering information and resolving disputes? She dared not believe she would be found worthy for entrance into the Chiathon; those in that elite and most sacred of callings practiced the twin arts of spy and assassin with such cold-blooded guile that only the most devout were selected.

Thus it was with great hesitation she met with the leader of their clan. Torumek by name, he had led the Serpent’s Own with a canny and keen mind. It was said he could sense fear like the pit viper. Were the rumors true, she worried he would be inundated with the waves of distress coming off of her. However, with no wrinkling of nose, he stood smartly, held her by the arm, and walked down the hall, extolling the virtues of the Ophi’daes and his excitement for some ‘new blood in these old halls’. Imagine her surprise when their walk ended with them in the library; her calling was over the dusty tomes and decaying scrolls! She was no shepherd of snakes, but a shepherd of books… Except that was not all. For unbeknownst to all but a meager few, she was not simply a librarian, but a guardian; a guardian over the treasured scrolls that made up the Mysteries, documents housing some of the deepest and most potent secrets known to trollkind. Deep and potent enough to require protecting at all costs.

She shook herself back to the present, running over in her mind the forms and phrases, things she would finally have a chance to employ. Ritual must be observed, after all. Especially on this most gratifying of duties. Mala’kiah had been asserting himself too openly, and too strongly, for there to be any doubt. And now that she had proof of his involvement… Well, they would all see. Finally she would have the opportunity to expose
him for the dissident and radical he was.

Silently, counting out the time with her heartbeats, Kehri’san waited out the minutes, then hours. A creaking plank, a passing shadow, and instantly she would grow alert… But all these passed by her door without stopping. She was about to question her certainty when Yatha suddenly stiffened across her shoulders. Cautiously peering around the room, she began to make out a form in the inky blackness; a form that she had somehow missed in her surveillance.

Strangely, though her eyes had long adjusted to the gloom she could barely make out this figure. However it didn’t take long to determine that it was indeed Mala’kiah; his hooked nose and adorned tusks were unmistakable. Worst of all was that maddeningly-placid look on his face. How could he look so calm? More importantly, how could he have gotten in? The door was locked behind her, the windows were secured… Kehri’san shook her head, she
didn’t have time to figure that out. Mala’kiah was slowly walking straight towards the location of the sacred scrolls.

Years of communion with the Ophidaes had given him amazing control over his motion; he slunk soundlessly across the hard stone tiles, sinuous movements bringing him imperceptibly closer. It was as if he moved between the motes of dust, illuminated by intermittent moon beams. He had been a great teacher, one of their best and brightest among the Ophidaes; that made his treachery and subterfuge all the worse to witness. Kehri’san herself had learned much under him, would even have come to admire him, but for his insistence on delving where he ought not.

That same illumination on her dagger reminded her of a season when her blade was clothed in a much more viscid substance. Years ago there had been a surge of trespasses among the adepts of the Ophidaes; thievery, vandalism, and a general sense of disquiet in the air. Rumor had it that one of the masters, Mala’kiah, had been inculcating within the youth a sense of improprious questioning; worse, in some cases full heresy. Many of these younglings took these lessons to heart, becoming rowdy and even rebellious. This would have affected Kehri’san little… Except that it culminated in the ransacking of the library and the theft of the Mysteries. Despite her training and instruction she was more than a little anxious about performing her duties, which is why several of them managed to down vials of poisonous hemlock before she could reach them. She was only able to reach one of them; but one was enough. Gods, her hands shake now as much as they did then. With the adept’s blood filming her ritual dagger, her whispered prayers competed with his choked, dying gasps. Before he died he had feebly swung at her, arms spasming in the paroxysm of death. That boy had been the first, but he had certainly not been the last. Brushing away the cobwebs of yesteryear, she crept forward silently to bloody the blade once more.

Kehri’san knew, of course, that merely entering the library unbidden after dusk was no pretext for her duties in assassination; that was merely the first degree of trespass. The second he was in the process of effecting; approaching the hidden location of the en-scrolled Mysteries. The third, final and fatal degree was that of actually opening them & reading them. It was this third degree that she was bound, by ritual and custom deeper and longer than the Snake Clan itself, to uphold, and thus bide her time. No Ophidaes was assumed guilty until determined so; however, no one could by accident traverse all three degrees. The warning on the front of the Mysteries made that clear to any who would so transgress.

As he neared the location, she tightened the grip on her blades. She considered using her spellcraft against him, but quickly dismissed the thought; at his stage, he had mastered any jinxes or hexery she had only just begun to learn. No, her best bet was in her heightened skills of subterfuge, and her natural talents as a warrior. She did, however, call upon the Loa for aid with a gesture; Yatha’s eyes flashing in understanding. Getting up silently, she swiftly stalked forwards until she was standing merely a pace or so behind him. He now held the scrolls in his treacherous hands, regarding the front cover and its solemn warning with an air of… reluctance? She was preparing herself to break the silence with the voice of condemnation — when the silence was instead broken by another, more jarring and abhorrent sound: the tearing of paper.

She watched, aghast, as in his hands the scrolls of the Mysteries began to split from top to bottom. Inexorably, like bolts of black lightning, minute tears snaked down the pages, widening to great dark gashes. The effect was as a thunderclap on her mind; she could do nothing, not even gasp, as the sacred Mysteries were torn asunder. The rituals and rites, secrets and teachings, the knowledge! It was as if a great chasm of ignorance was being ripped right into the very heart of comprehension. Mouth dry and pulse pounding, she was utterly unprepared for the mutilation of her charge — those ancient, venerable scrolls.

Deliberately, with no apparent malice, Mala’kiah crumpled the remains in his large hands and, with a complicated gesture, turned the rest to ashes with a spectral flame. As she watched the soot of the scrolls settle to the ground, Kehri’san’s eyes widened, and rage took hold upon her heart. This flew so far in the face of custom and tradition, she felt it only fitting to return in kind. Eschewing her more priestly training in favor of her warrior’s wrath, she screamed in outrage, precisely and viciously stabbing him through the heart.

And the blade was left quivering on the other side of his chest, having passed through like air.

Dumbfounded, she could do no more than quiver as the utter impossibility of what had happened settled upon her mind like motes of dust. Mala’kiah was only here… somewhat. He had shed the mortal coil, relinquishing the flesh for a time to master the spirit. This itself was, if surprising, not amazing or new. Many of the masters and even advanced students learned this ability, for its obvious benefits. However, separating oneself from the material realm left one unable to interact with anything on it; and she had seen him tear the Mysteries, physically! The embers lie crushed and forgotten under her profane, thoughtless feet!

Chuckling darkly, the apparition of Mala’kiah did not even turn around. “Ye do not understand?” he asked. In one swift, impossible motion he wrested the ritual dagger from his own intangible chest and her more tangible hand — then, spinning nimbly and planting a forceful kick with his spirit appendage, he left her breathless on the floor with her own blade poised near her throat.

“A single scale,” he began, holding the dagger perilously close to her veins, “she falls from the serpent. In so doing she feels the serpent has been ruined. And so it has… To her. The serpent lives on, untouched by the tragedy.” In the midst of his words, Yatha lashed out at him, fangs bared. Mala’kiah merely pivoted and grabbed the musurana’s head as it passed, touching a few pressure points to render her familiar immobile. In all this he did not pause, did not lose tempo. “In fact,” he continued, “the snake will come to shed each and every one of it’s scales, time and time again. Is this not where both land and sea come from? The scales and the blood of de Great Serpent, whose spinning turns thee skies?”

Kehri’san could take no more. “Cease your speak of riddles and the tales of children! I am here for but one purpose; to protect the Mysteries. Why have you destroyed our greatest treasure!? How could you do such an abhorrent thing!?”

With her throat at the knife’s beck and call, she could do little more than appear menacing. Still she felt she must understand.

“And after the Great Serpent began to turn the skies, we arose from the dust of the earth that was His scale, and we began to drink from the water that was His blood. And soon, treachery struck; death was brought into our world through the venom of the Scaled Ones. Before we learned of their cunning and guile, we learned of their malice. That is why He is known as ‘Hethiss’; ‘He to Whom We Hiss’.”

At this, Kehri’san breathed in sharply. The name of their God was one of the chief contents of the Mysteries. “Th-that name… That name is forbidden! You are thrice a heretic; for such and for reading the Mysteries you must perish!”

He laughed again, a laugh which cut down her spine like jagged bark. “This knowledge, these wonders,” he spoke, waving his spectral arm through the air langourosly, “did not come to me through these paltry scrolls.”

“And, though your naivete may prove the stronger yet, I am not the first. As protector of the Mysteries and caretaker of the records, you have read the histories of our people, our great Clan… You have read of D’zeerah the Wicked, of vicious Klalau Fangborn, of Omalsk the Heretic, have you not?” His eyes narrowed. “Your leaders have not yet let the scales from their eyes; they are as blind as the threadsnake-”

“Enough!” She could take no more. “I refuse to pay heed to your blasphemy! Besides, what could those old fiends know that the great Torumek does not?”

Scowling at the interruption, he again spoke, “They are blind, and worse they are deaf, for they hear not what I and many others before me have heard. Do you not wonder how I have spoken of all this? Verily I destroyed the Mysteries long before I had the chance to peruse their contents. No, like those famed ones of old, these secrets came to me from the very one which you purport to worship. From the voices of the ancients, yea, the teachings of the great. The Great Serpent Himself hath hissed them into my ears!” He punctuated his words by hissing sharply in her left ear, brushing her cheek with his tusk. “I am born anew, molting off the useless husk of my old self.”

Her mind reeled. This was unthinkable. The Mysteries, the secrets, the key words and signs… His next words were almost lost in the depths of her doubt. “And thus you, lowly librarian, are as but a scale, falling from the serpent with none to mourn. None save me… For I have oft mourned the loss of innocence.” As if to indelibly inscribe this notion, he quickly moved the dagger away from her throat and sliced through the tendons in her lower legs. Blinding pain wormed its way up her thighs much like that poison long ago in the ruins of Aboraz. She tried to withhold a gasp, but could not hold back tears.

With that, he sauntered off, safe in the knowledge she could not pursue for many hours yet. As he passed effortlessly through the wall, her dagger clattered to the floor, unable to travel so.

As the hours passed and her mind grew accustomed to the pain, she was struck anew with a stark realization; an inconceivable notion that lay coiled in her mind. The secret, he had said, came not from the scrolls. It was absurd; who was he to make such claims! And yet how else could he become such a phantom; how else could he know that name? Could it be that… At this point, the notion deep in her mind bared it’s fangs. She realized with an agony that exceeded her injury that everything she had ever valued, all she had worked for, all those whose blood had fed her blades… It was all for naught. The secrets were not tied to the Mysteries, not protected by those hidden scrolls; they were spoken to any with a mind twisted enough and an ear ready enough to hear them! Her own God had given her a calling which He Himself had foiled, time and again! Why? Why!

Her bitter tears mingled with the discarded ashes, her final ties to faith washing out with them.


Greenskin, Redskin, Brownskin… Lore is So Much Fun

I watched an amazing trailer the other day. You may have seen it too…

Warlords of Draenor: Blizzard-Activision’s newest expansion set, due to come out later this year (I could put the ‘exact date’, but we all know Blizzard enjoys toying with it’s puppets… :P). This is the 5th in a long line of expansions for their massive MMORPG-dominating empire that is World of Warcraft.

Now as you may know of me already, I am not really a huge fan of WoW. Or rather, I’m a huge fan of everything WoW stands for… Except the Lore. I can’t stand how they’ve taken the Lore and ripped it up & down, left & right. Many of the most interesting & influential characters (Arthas, Illidan, Kael, etc), killed by random groups of ‘Heroes’. Imagine, the omnimalevolent Lich King… Gutted by the likes of ‘xXxNarutoFan16xXx’.


“It’s *so* my turn to loot the LK.  Remember last time,  BleachLover926 got those +20 Boots of Death I’d been grinding for?”


That being said, I still keep up with WoW and it’s beautiful artwork, interesting ideas, and engaging storytelling. Haven’t yet played it (WOAH, right? :P), but I plan to… Eventually.
(Translation: Probably just gonna roll a Troll Rogue, max out “running really fast”, “turning invisible” and “dodging EVERYTHING”, then take a speedy death-dodging tour of Stranglethorn Vale. All so as to get a good “feel” for the environment within which to finish modding my baby, the Trolls.). And keeping up with WoW means keeping up with all the neat Cinematics.

Say what you want about Blizzard, Activision, and WoW… They *sure* know how to make a cinematic. : ) At this point, just go ahead & watch it; my description isn’t going to do it any justice. (And then, keep that tab open; we’re gonna come back to it)


Basically, we pan over some vast wilderness, drums-n-stuff giving us a good tribal vibe. “35 years ago” appears & fades, indicating that Blizzard has finally stooped to timeline-butchery to get the job done. Or maybe it’s just backstory? Riiiiiight.

Flaming torch, lots of Orcs, cool mountain-thing… And a brave Orcish leader waltzing up to a creepy hunched dude who thinks skulls are in vogue.

(See he comes from the right, but that's technically

ENTER Grom’mash Hellscream, STAGE LEFT

So good ol’ Grom goes up, and the Creepy Dude dips a SCHWEET cup in some brackish turgid Powerthirst green stuff, offers it to Grom, and goes all “Dude totally drink it. It’s like Steroids only DIMENSIONAL STEROIDS and also you can KILL GODS,” and Grom’s like “Yeah I can see where you ripped off the ‘Warning’ label; I’m gonna get really bad acne, aren’t I?” and Creepy Dude’s Gul’dan’s like “Yeah-ok, I’ll be honest it’s pretty bad for you, just drink it ok?”

Grom’s all “NOPE” and dumps it back in, so Gul’dan backs up and let’s Daddy take care of the big-kid business.

(NOTE: “Daddy” here being a euphemism for “Mannoroth, Ruler of the Pit Lords and All-Around Badflank”)

Mannoroth doesn’t mince words (he juliennes), and Grom just plays the Staring Game until Mannoroth blinks BECAUSE HE GOT HIT WITH MASSIVE FLAMING BALLS. Mannoroth gets pissed and prepares to attack, but suddenly is blocked by these chain-spear things. Breaks them, starts blowing stuff up with infernal death magicks… Grom runs over & launches a spinning death-engine (seriously, is that a necessary element of Orcish Engineering, giant SPIKY (seriously^2, why spiky too?) spinning explosive engines? Is that, like, ‘core curriculum’ for the aspiring undergraduate Orc-gineer: “Dangerously Volatile Engines 101”??), which kinda distract him, at least long enough for Grom to roll a 20 and critically head-shot him (WITH AN AXE).

Then in a nice-but-dumb homage to Warcraft 3, Grom, having killed Mannoroth (SPOILERS/ again /ENDSPOILERS), stands in the ensuing flamey demise of the demon-lord, only to be saved burnination by Thrall oh wait his son (OH THE FEELS) Garrosh Hellscream.

Gul’dan’s all like “Dudes, this wasn’t what was supposed to happen haven’t you read the Lore OMGosh” to which Garrosh (ever the soul of brevity & wit) retorts “Times change”. Grom then gets all hopped up on the euphoric feel of having slain a Demon-lord (you know the feeling :P) and is all “Yeah let’s not deal with demons. Let’s just conquer the world(s) ourselves!”.

Pan to dramatic shot of the currently-being-constructed Death Star Dark Portal.



So let me be clear; I love the Lore. I love the “story”; I’m one of those fools who can’t bear to read the end of a book (unlike my dear wife) or see something out of place (unlike my dear wife) or to tell someone about plot twists (UNLIKE MY DEAR WIFE). So Warcraft’s lore, while retconned to oblivion & back, holds a special place in my heart. The stories of the characters, their lives, their interactions; and the greater machinations of city, culture and creed working on a grander scale throughout Azeroth. It appeals to me. It’s fantastical and whimsical and pretty grounded in obvious Tolkien-, Warhammer- and 90’s Rock-Music-esque themes, and I like it.

So to understand exactly why this video hits me so hard, let me give the tiniest bit of background:
Orcs (brown-skinned (apparently)) lived in relative peace communing through shamanic magicks with elementals & their ancestors. The Burning Legion (Warcraft’s ‘Demons’) needed an invasion force, and tricked/persuaded them to drink Demon Blood (TM), thus turning them into ultra-violent, omnicidal barbarians. They slaughtered & enslaved the locals (Draenei, Ogres, Arakkoa, Mushroom-Dudes, etc), then with no external foe to face, turned their cruelty and malice upon themselves, fracturing into warring tribes.
Blah blah blah, Medivh, Human sorceror & Guardian of Azeroth, blah blah, possessed by demonic whisperings, blah blah, opens the Dark Portal with the help of head-Demon-worshipper Gul’dan and brings the vicious & bloodthirsty Orcish Horde to Azeroth to fight against (& weaken up) the Humans.

This time theater directions are more ambiguous; it really depends on which side of the computer you placed the disc.  Welp.


That whole game, and the games that follow (Warcraft 2 and 3 & WoW), heck, even the entirety of their now-history as a race has been written in the blood of that first encounter with Demons. Their whole obstreperous and viscera-soaked genealogy can be traced back to that one lineage-damning event.

Go back to that trailer (toldjya), and watch with me the scene starting around 0:57:

Grom, after being told to drink because it is “his destiny” and they will “become conquerors”, glares at Gul’dan, pulls the cup away and growls “And what, Gul’dan, must we give, in return?”
Gul’dan then pulls back his hood revealing the dark truth; his livid green skin and burning red eyes stand as a testament to the Demonic corruption that had already taken place in his heart. Baring his sin before Grom (1:03) he whispers morosely, plaintively, and I like to think despondently:


That line chilled me. I forgot entirely about the green that is oh-so-familiar to us now (didn’t even notice it, to be honest; those eyes were so overpowering), about the Demon-blood, about Draenor. All I could think about was that line, and the implications thereof.

Think of what Gul’dan is saying to Grom here. “Everything, Grom. To take your destiny, to become conquerors… You will give up everything. Your people, your heritage, your culture, your cities… Your bodies and minds, your hearts and lives yea even your very souls. You, your tribe, and every other tribe across Draenor, shall lay your hopes, dreams, your past lives upon the altar. The Orcs as a race will be stamped out; and in their place will be borne the Horde: an instrument, a mere tool, in the hands of our new gods. Everything you have, Grom, everything you are, Grom, to fulfill this ‘destiny’, to ‘conquer’.”

So that’s what really gets me about this whole thing. To be frankly honest, I didn’t even recognize the Dark Portal in that last shot (I’ll blame “archaic & blurry” 720p resolution xD). Though that’s a really cool & pertinent point; basically Blizzard’s gonna introduce this timeline-of-events (“Alternate Universe”-style) into the “regular” timeline via the dimension-spanning “Dark Portal”. Thus they validate the whole “original” past while still introducing a neat “alternate past”.

But again, Dark Portal? Who cares. What I love about this cinematic is that it puts things into perspective, and gives a sobering look at exactly what the Orcs, as a people, had… And what they ultimately lost, utterly and irrevocably:


It’s Been a Looong Time…

Spooky Green Pants with *Nobody Inside Them*!!

Yes it has

Mood Music

Well, it’s been quite some time.  Looks like the ol’ “we’re busy college students and are also poorly-motivated” bug bit again.  What a pest.  Almost as pestilential as that name GOSH that’s a mouthful to call an exterminator for.  Anyway, putting up our bug-crushing boots, we decided to actually post in this forsaken-hole-of-a-blog for once.  And by that we mean “more than once”. xD

However, once it had been more than a few months, we realized that the only poetically dramatic way to resurrect this thing would be to do so…  (drum roll please)…  one year later!

Or yeah.  Wish us luck!


In case you’re wondering where the title of this post comes from, please enjoy this excellent Portal animatic from the wonderful enquaynay of Youtube fame:

(Would you believe I’ve never even (seriously) played Portal 1? I know, get those e-stones ready for the Lottery.

Don’t Stop, An-noying!

How in the world does one onomatopoetia-ze a bouncy couch, I ask you!



I’ve long been fascinated by the word “incessant”; I’ve known of it’s usage in terms of something ‘continual’ and ‘constant(ly unending)’, generally ‘annoying’, as in “the buzzing of flies was incessant”.  However, I also have long wondered why it means that.

Well get this!  So the word “incessant” is, stripping away the common negating prefix “in”, at it’s heart the simple “-cessant”, drawing the mind to the related (real) word “cessate”, which means to ‘stop’, itself coming from/related to the word “cease” (also, unsurprisingly, meaning to ‘stop’ or ‘end’ something, as in “he ceased to be a bother”).  Thusly I come to the quite simple conclusion that to be “incessant” quite literally means (as opposed to my dunderheaded attempts at definition above), “to be without cessation/ceasing”, or “stopping”.  i.e. “the buzzing of flies was not/never cessating/ceasing/stopping”.

Now if only I could make posts on this blog incessantly… :P


My parents' similar declarations now, in a moment of clarity, make total sense...

Pointing at the elephant *incessantly* won’t win you any brownie points, Cassandra.



So tell me; what do you think about ‘incessantly’ (answer whichever way makes your cap curl)?  Do you agree with my reduction?  What’s a word you have ‘discovered’ recently?

Ultimates: Heroicism at its Finest

My my, good to start every day with a neologism.


This comes from a recent contest I entered on The Hive Workshop (regrettably one of the few active Wc3 Modding websites), a Hero Contest (#6 to be exact).  Though I was intensely busy with Real Life, I chose to enter to further my own nefarious schemes personal projects.  I tried reasonably hard, and came up with someone I felt reasonably proud of.  Fair enough.

Afterwards, the results were judged in a huge poll (which I failed, miserably; only 12% of votes), and then judged by a pair of judges.  I expected to do poorly in the polls, but I was hoping my prowess would shine through to the judges.  In all, I did well enough…  But not as well as I had hoped, and things seemed to plead for a response.  So I wrote, and below is the pertinent part of the response:



Originally Posted by Maker
The ultimate could have benefited from better design and execution.

The ultimate is a bit underwhelming. It should be more powerful. There isn’t that great feeling of getting to cast it.

Sign of the Bloodmoon spawns a unit that is not positioned where the victim died, and it does not look like the victim actually became a worgen.

The ultimate is very useful for crippling tough enemies but as units are not guaranteed to die while the buff lasts, part of its usefulness can be wasted.

I had to sit and ponder this for a while, what exactly went wrong with this ability. In a “local variable/relative minimum” sense, I realized this hero failed to deliver; he had an awexome model, a different take, simple, elegant abilities (In My Humble Opinion, lol), and then… Nothing. An ultimate with a cool name that it didn’t live up to. Basically just a minorly-modded, melee-range Parasite; didn’t even deal damage, just slowed down. And all it made was a dinky wolf-buddy (good for the Passive, but still).

This guy is so visceral and powerful and heroic-looking, that he needed something interesting for the ultimate. For that, I apologize.

However, I realized something else; part of what made me pick this ultimate (because I did put a deal of thought into this, surprisingly :P) is part of a mental mindset or philosophy regarding Hero Ultimates that I have sickeningly nurtured and kept alive for months now, which is evidenced in several other places. I love making Heroes and at this point, consider myself at least ‘decent’ at doing so. However, this lesson escaped me, in a more “global variable/absolute minimum” sense… A deeper poison had taken root in my modding practices.

Basically, when one looks at the regular Heroes and their ultimates (Resurrection & Mass Teleport; Reincarnation & Earthquake; Death and Decay & Inferno; Tranquility & Metamorphosis; etc), there’s a lot of diversity. Some deal damage, some affect large groups, others affect merely one individual… But across the board, they are all AMAZING! Like you said, they make you excited to reach Level 6 and use the ability. Even among the Neutral heroes, the standard applies. Things are flashy, things are exciting, things are ULTIMATE!

In order to make heroes that fit in with standard heroes (my usual goal with my projects), I of course couldn’t use anything they already had. I, however, thought to make things different & thought myself better for not “giving in” to the idea of flashy spells & such. Several times I would have a spell for an Ultimate and think “OK, this isn’t that powerful or flashy, but it has a lower cooldown than most… It’s meant to be utility!… It has lots of potential!…” and other such rationalizations. Rationalizations on the path down to modding hell, more like it. :P

Your comments sparked my thoughts. Get this:

The list I used to Theorycraft this

Mass Teleport

Big Bad Voodoo

Animate Dead
Death and Decay
Locust Swarm


*#Storm, Earth, Fire

  • In regular TFT warcraft, there are a total of 24 Heroes (4 in each race, and 8 Neutral Tavern heroes)
  • Thus there are 24 Ultimate abilities.
  • Out of those 24 Ultimates, 12 (only 1/2) don’t involve more than one unit (i.e. AoE-type abilities)
  • Out of those 12, 5 of them are Summon abilities (Phoenix, Inferno, Vengeance, Storm,Earth,Fire), which usually end up affecting units in an AoE anyway.
  • Also out of those 12, 4 of them are “Self-Enhancing” abilities (Avatar, Reincarnation, Metamorphosis, Robo-Goblin).
  • That leaves 3 (Charm, Doom, Transmute; all Tavern abilities, interestingly) which affect specifically One Unit Only (not AoE).
  • Thusly, not counting “Self-Enhancing” Ultimates, a mere 1/8th (3/24) of all Ultimates in the game affect only one unit.

And guess what! All of them result in the unit’s (immediate/eventual (but certain) demise! That’s right, whether it’s “kill-summon a demon” or “kill-take control” or “kill-get gold”, all of them Kill. Which means if you’re making an ultimate, and it affects only one unit (and that unit isn’t itself)… You better be serious about it.
(note: I believe this is due to Wc3 being a “soft counter” with a definite focus on smaller, squad-like armies; as opposed to a larger-army, “hard counter” game like Red Alert 2 or Age of Empires or what-have-you. In those games, killing a unit (instantly) isn’t really a big deal; in Wc3 it’s huge.)

Thusly, I come to “Sign of the Bloodmoon”; what is it? An autocastable, single-target Ultimate. What does it do? Not even damage… Just an intense slow. And like you said, while it’s obvious the player will focus-fire that guy, it’s possible nothing will even happen! And when it does, all they get is a paltry wolf (Doom Guard, anyone?).

Anyway, I say this all to say: Thanks. I am taking a long look at some my most long-standing Hero designs and tweaking them to come to this realization; my project(s) will be all the stronger for it.


Tell me what you think.  Am I correct in my analysis?  Do my points accurately reflect the way the game is made (and thus how one should make theirs)?  Isn’t it amazing what we can talk ourselves into?  :P


Well, okay then…

Sometimes I forget just how time-consuming being a student is (especially with multiple pressing deadlines).  I have been glancing at this blog thinking, “Gosh, I’ve got to write something down or else I may never get to it.”  I wonder if that is what a lot of writers out there think when they write down an idea they’ve got circulating in their brain, begging to be made permanent with lead (sorry, graphite), ink or pixels?

Anyway, this post (though short it may be) is to serve to reassure (more me than you) that yes, indeed, the posts do go on.

Coming up: Brandon Sanderson, Art Gallery, dreams, time management, and…No-bake cookies.

I hope you have not written us out just yet!

-Robyn De‘ Wise

Plastic Canvas – the Forever Hobby

For those who don’t know what plastic canvas is, you’re not alone.  Few do as it is not a popular craft today as far as I know.  But today, you shall know its awesomeness.

During my childhood, my mother was really into a lot of different crafts.  She put together puzzles (a favorite of mine too!), made ribbon doves, sewed with my grandmother’s sewing machine (which I still have today), and made crafts with plastic canvas.  The biggest project I recall was an entire miniature house that opened up and had people and stuff inside.  My favorite was a tissue box cover that looked like a house and had a little black kitty sitting on the second floor window on the outside.  The tissues came up out the chimney. *sniff* I miss that thing…

Several months ago, I took up this craft in a fit of nostalgia.  My first craft: dice.  Yep, you read right; dice.  It came from a dream actually.  I guess I was so caught up in trying to figure out what on earth to make that my dreams went to work too.  As I was waking up, I remembered how I in my dream was trying to think of how to make one.  I acted as soon as I could and BAM!  Many dice were born.  The first one has a bell in it too, it’s kinda cute.

The first one I ever made!  I don't own a camera so this was taken with my hubby's phone. :/

The first one I ever made! I don’t own a camera so this was taken with my hubby’s phone. :/

Some more of my dice (not all).  The 8-sider was unfortunately not finished with its numbering (It is now though).

Some more of my dice (not all). The 8-sider was unfortunately not finished with its numbering (It is now though).

After making several six-siders and then doing an eight-sider and then a twenty-sider, I went on to bigger things.  I am in charge of about 20 kids at my local church and I wanted to come up with a clever way to encourage them to bring their scriptures to class.  So, I made a piggy bank…in the shape of a temple.  Inside it is a glass jar that makes a lovely sound every time a penny is put in.  When it adds up to a dollar, one lucky child gets to present the money to our Branch President to put towards the Temple Construction Fund.  In the past year, we’ve made $2.  It’s a work in progress.

A piggy bank in disguise.

A piggy bank in disguise.

Side veiw

Side veiw

Top view

Top view


Here I show how the flap works to get to the monies and the glass jar if ever it needs replacing

Here I show how the flap works to get to the monies and the glass jar if ever it needs replacing

As for the design, I made it entirely myself.  I tried to find patterns but I may just be blind to the bottomless stash of patterns that fit my fancy.  Even so, my creative mind liked the exercise.  And it turned out great (though not flawless).  I have the design documented on Paint (which took FOREVER by the way) so that if anyone else wanted to make one, they could.  Currently, I’m working on a tissue box cover in the shape of the Washington, DC Temple.  It’s huge… But it’s gonna look awesome when all is said and done.  I’ll leave that for another blog post. :p

Basic directions.  If you need further instruction, let me know and I'll do my best to help. :)

Basic directions. If you need further instruction, let me know and I’ll do my best to help. :)


I have GOT to get this writing thing down!

For those who may be wondering where my story has gone to, I have taken it down for now.  I was so excited about this blog and since I have dreamed for so long to get my stories out there, I didn’t remember that, hey, maybe I should remember the rules of competitions better.

According to Writier’s Digest Short Story Competion’s Rules and Regulations (, I cannot submit a story that has been published elsewhere.  Not remembering this rule, I posted my story on this blog.  Aterward, I had this sort of itch in the back of my mind.  As I thought about it, I recalled submitting that story earlier in December to Writer’s Digest.  I thought to myslef, “Maybe I should double-check on the rules just to be sure.”  I certainly wouldn’t want my first-ever submission to a story competition go sour and get disqualified due to a forgetful mistake.  So, I looked and lo and behold, there it was, staring me in the face:

3. All entries must be in English, original, unpublished, and not submitted or accepted elsewhere at the time of submission. Writer’s Digest reserves one-time publication rights to the 1st- through 25th-place winning entries to be published in a Writer’s Digest publication. (italics added)

Needless to say, I had a slight panic as I really didn’t want to mess this up.  Being a novice writer is kinda tough.  So I have taken it down and sent an apologetic voicemail and email in the hopes that I will not be disqualified but still have an equal chance at getting any of the prizes.  Really, I’d be ecstatic with even 25th place even if I don’t make the top 4.  I can only hope for a good experience all around.

Here’s to hoping and here’s to the new year!  Happy 2013 everyone!

-Robyn De‘ Wise

Let’s get this started. Ha.

Though this be madness yet there is method in it‘.

Welp, here we go.  After months hours of deliberating, we have finally embarked on what could be the greatest adventure of known time!… Or perhaps just a fun creative outlet. Either way, WONDER COUPLE POWERS ACTIVATE!

You’ve found our corner of the Internet. For a variety of reasons, me and my wife wanted to start a blog. However, this isn’t your ordinary “newly-wed” blog; no sir (or ma’am). No gushy photographs of squishy-raisin infants, nor sappily-romantic interludes (ok, maybe every once in a while (we’ll probably make a separate category; y’know, quarantine the disease :P)). Herein we hope to regale you with rants about games, books, movies and the like; invoke contemplation and conversation about matters of depth and importance; entertain you with prose, craft, and the occasional collaborative mess-up masterpiece.

In short, we hope to have some fun.


That being said, please enjoy your time here; hopefully we will begin to get a feel for how frequently & potently we will update. Questions, comments and concerns? Direct them to that friendly little box in the corner (it won’t bite).

I am known across the Internet by many names; I hope to document them here for reference, as well as decide on one for this blog.  However, in lieu of that, I will sign out with *ALL* the names.

– Kyrbi0/Triumvirate/CookieGambit/SOME OTHER NAME

Start our first blog?

Start our first blog?

Today marks the start of our blog. Right before the new year; this’ll turn into fascinating debates as to when our blog “really” took off as we’re doing this at the odd hours of the morning.

Anywho, I’m Embermyst. Nice to meet ya. I am new to this so please have pity. Or just have fun laughing at my pathetic attempts at blogging. I certainly hope to engage and entertain my readers. If anything, I hope to discover the wonderful joys of writer-dom in the blogging world.

I must admit, this project is already more than I thought it would be. Starting this thing was a 4-hour feat in of itself in just naming the darn thing… But as a potential author in the writing world, I’ve got to start somewhere. It may be a bit slow-going at first but I’m excited to get it started. If anything, I hope my energy lasts beyond the initial “Oh my gosh, I’m starting my own blog!” phase.

Oh yes, and I’m not the only one posting, FYI. There are others…many others…. Not really, but we’ll make sure that you’ll at least know who is posting what by our signature at the bottom. Like so: