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Ayoooah! Jeb's Howl

jeb


Hello!

jeb

The moons are rising and it's a beautiful night for a howl! Grab some dreamberries and have a seat.

If you like what you see (or even if you don't), let me know. I run on feedback! Smile I'm also open to suggestions.

Stories

Elfquest Characters:

The Gift - December '08 Grab-bag - Cutter, Ember, and Suntop adjust in the aftermath of Kings of the Broken Wheel.

Protection - Two short stories exploring Leetah and Rayek's pre-wolfrider relationship

Repercussions - A Different Path This is an alternate ending, with permission, of Gloomberry's tale. Cutter promised he would fly with Skywise in spirit forever. Now, he is nowhere to be found. What happened?

Solitude February '09 Grab-bag. Danger in the desert. Rayek.

Consequences April '09 Grab-bag. A trick is played with unintended results. Cutter, Nightfall, and Redlance.

Rites of Passage June '09 Grab-bag. A hunt and a death of a friend. More Cutter, Nightfall and Redlance.

August 09 Grab-bag Ekuar nurses Rayek through a cold.

October 09 Grab-bag Pike's first exposure to dreamberries.

November Grab-bag Continuation of the October Grab-bag, explaining how Pike became the tribe storyteller.

December 09 Grab-bagThe tribe welcomes Rain's new cub.

Secret Santa Exchange An imagining of what took place at the end of the original quest when Skywise stayed behind at the palace.

The Recognition of Rayek An AU of Recognition between Cutter and a female Rayek.


November 2010 Grab bag A winter storm leads to a crowded den for Rain



June 2011 Grab bag While the Sun-villagers celebrate, a quieter celebration goes on in the desert



July 2011 Grab bag The final quest teasers make me wonder, what will happen next?



September 2011 grab bag More fun with Rayek and an alternate recognition



A Blue Mountain Role-Reversal




Non-Elfquest Characters:

Flood - January '09 Grab-bag - Disaster leads to the awakening of a young elf's gifts. My own characters. With color illustrations.

Collide March '09 Grab-bag. A darker recognition story. Original characters.

Rebound May '09 Grab-bag. Continuation and resolution of "Collide."

More with Twinstar and her son, Lastlight, from "Collide" & "Rebound"
July 09 Grab-bag
September 09 Grab-bag

Quicksilver A "what-if" story about the daughter of Treestump and Clearbrook

Art

Elfquest Characters:
Leetah and Cutter
Moonshade and Strongbow
comic pages This is my attempt at illustrating in comic style the story Coming of Age by Lynn Abbey
Medieval Strongbow and Moonshade
Cutter - pencil sketch
Redlance - ink sketch
Vaya- We'll Dance Sketch --In Color
Nightfall and Redlance Sketch -- In Color
Secret Santa Exchange Skywise and Rayek
Cutter and Rayek
One-Eye and What-if Moth Illustration for CrimsonAnna's story



Requests:

For Joselle
Kahvi hunting - in color
Kahvi -After the battle

For Bukittyan
Pike - Storyteller


Non-Elfquest Characters:

My Own:
Brightfeather
Wisp/Riversong
Brightfeather and Wisp dollz by Nightsea
Quicksilver dollz


Quicksilver doll by Embala
WIsp and Brightfeather dolls by Embala

Beyond Colorings of Vojira's Character

From Stonehowl Holt:

Joybringer sketch -- In color
Moonsong
Daymist
Daymist doll by Nightsea
Skyshade, Wardance, and Warsong
Riverfall, Windfetcher and Echo
Troll invasion!

jeb

jeb

jeb

This was my submission for the December 08 Grab-bag.
___________________________________________________________

“Suntop?”

*Ember! Quiet.* Her brother’s words filled her mind. She followed their gentle tugging out of the forest into the clearing where her brother knelt by a small stream. *Remember-*

She flopped down on the bank a short distance away and finished his sentence in a quiet sing-song voice. “In the trees, as you please. On the ground, not a sound.” Irritated, she pulled off her boots and gave a slight hiss as her feet touched the icy water. She lay back in the moist earth.

The holt was a buzzing beehive of activity lately. The white-cold would be coming soon and attentions were occupied with the filling of store-holes and drying meat to supplement the lean hunting ahead. Anyone enjoying a moment’s rest who was unfortunate enough to be noticed by Moonshade was quickly put to work preparing hides while she herself took stock of their winter furs.

For Ember the situation was particularly maddening. Mostly still only entrusted with cub chores, Cutter nonetheless seemed to require at least Ember’s presence for every detail of the preparations. Finally able to sneak away, she took the opportunity to let herself get lost in the delicious contrast of the warm afternoon sun shining down on her face and the cool ground beneath her.

The skritch, skritch of her brother’s knife in the dirt soon drew her attention.

“What are you doing?”

As an answer, Suntop reached into a pouch and pulled out several pieces of thin, clear stone. “Look.” He held one up to the sun. The stone glowed a vibrant hue as the sun shone through. “Beautiful, isn’t it? Like Savah’s chair.” His face saddened as he returned the stones.

“Don’t worry, you’ll go back again sometime.”

Suntop returned to his digging. “Not anytime soon. Who knows when Rayek’s magic will return.” He jabbed the knife in to the earth harder. “And even when it does, what good will it do? Father won’t go near the castle with Rayek in it, and I don’t think he’ll ever let me out of his sight again.” He stopped digging and glanced over at his sister, suddenly aware of his own words. If it was bad for him, he knew it was twice as bad for his sister. He at least had a little freedom. He didn’t have the weight of the Wolfrider’s future being loaded onto him.

Ember continued to lie with her eyes closed. She sighed. “Ever since Rayek took us in the castle, everything’s just so confusing. I mean, I know for father we were gone a long time, and it’s so strange that he’s so much older in what seemed to be only one night, but it’s not just that. He’s just so—“

“Different.” Suntop shrugged. “Sad. That’s what I’m doing here. I’ve been collecting the clearstone for awhile. I want to make a tallow pot for him. The light will shine through the stones. It will be beautiful. Something to enjoy in the cold of winter. Something to-“ Suntop had been speaking quickly, excitedly. Now his voice trailed off as a sense of futility hit him. “-cheer him up.” He returned to digging. “Tyleet said they sometimes find clay by this stream. I was hoping to find some.”

“Well, then. Maybe I can help.” Ember waded around the stream, crossing from one bank to another. Occasionally pausing, sometimes lowering her head to the bank as she worked out a scent. Finally she threw a pebble down onto the grassy slope. “Try here.”

Suntop moved to the place she indicated and began digging again. “Aha!” He pulled up some of the firm, red earth and began piling it on the bank. “Thanks, I never would have been able to do that.”

Ember settled on the bank again and watched her brother. She spoke hesitantly. “Suntop? What do you think of Tyleet? And Venka?”

“Well, Venka’s sending is amazing. I’ve never felt anything like it.” Ember smiled at her brother’s appreciation of the other elf’s skill. “And Tyleet? She’s always so nice and gentle. It’d be hard not to like her.”

“Well, I don’t.” Suntop shot her a reproachful glare. She sighed. “OK. That’s not really true. It’s just that everyone was so excited that there was going to be a new cub. I was too. Finally, we wouldn’t be the only ones being left behind. There was going to be someone younger, someone to play with and teach. But now there’s not. She was supposed to be a playmate, but suddenly she’s grown-up. She wants a cub of her own. And we’re still cubs.”

They sat silently for a while, each caught up in their own thoughts.

“Done.” Suntop proudly held the pot up for Ember’s inspection. “All we need now is to find a place to set it while it dries.”

They both stood and scanned the surrounding area, Ember quietly mulling over the requisite qualities. “Warm. Dry. Out-of-sight. There!” She pointed to a lone evergreen at the top of a rocky outcropping. The wide arching branches created the perfect space to keep the pot safe yet hidden from view, while the lacy branches still let in the sun. They placed the pot in the soft needles, then hurried back to the holt, hoping they hadn’t been missed.

____________________________________________________________

The storm hit the next night, earlier than anyone expected. A howling wind drove the leaves out of the trees. Even in the warm comfort of their dens the Wolfriders could hear the occasional cracking of limbs weighted down with ice and snow.

The twins had almost finished dressing when Cutter appeared in the den opening.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

Ember tightened the last of the lacings of her fur cloak. “Suntop and I have to do something.” She glanced up at her father’s scowling face.
“We left something outside, we just need to run and get-“

“No!” Ember and Suntop both flinched and their father’s bark.

“Father, we’ll just be gone for a little while.” She glanced nervously at her brother. “Suntop made a new tallow pot. It’s just over by the stream cliffs. It shouldn’t take-“

“I said no! Maybe you haven’t noticed, but there’s a storm outside. The branches are covered with ice, it’s impossible to get down out of the trees.”

“If you could do it, we can!”

Cutter’s voice lowered, his tone became deliberate. “Even if you make it safely out of the trees, you can’t see anything out there. You’d get lost—“

“You can’t keep us here!” Ember glowered at her father. His eyes narrowed and his voice became an angry growl.

“Want to bet?”

Ember made for the door. As her father moved to block her Suntop thrust himself between them and was angrily pushed aside. He fell against the den wall with a crack. Leetah quickly cradled her son. The fury in Ember’s eyes burned into Cutter. “It was a gift for you. Hear that! All we wanted to do was get Suntop’s gift for you!”



Cutter stood in the opening for a moment, before turning and disappearing into the flurry of snowflakes.

____________________________________________________________

The first light of morning was just brightening the sky when Cutter appeared again in the doorway. He held out the broken pottery pieces toward his son. “It must have cracked when it froze.”

Suntop gingerly took the pieces. The bottom was still a rounded bowl, but the top had shattered, leaving jagged pieces of clearstone pointing up like an open blossom. “I think it will still work. I wanted to show you…I think I can…” Suntop held the intact bottom out. He took a deep breath and stared at it intently. Soon they were able to discern the pot give a faint glow above the dim morning light.



For a moment there was only stunned silence before Cutter spoke. “It reminds me of-“

“I know.” Suntop stopped him before he could utter the words. The silence continued, heavy with unspoken thoughts.

Cutter again broke the silence. “Did I ever sing you the song about mother moon and child moon?” Both cubs shook their heads. Cutter peeled off his storm-drenched leathers and settled into the warm sleep furs. The scent of forest and fresh snow lingered around him, the chill on his skin made the cubs shiver.

“The greater moon, full and bright
Hunts the star-stag through the night.
On through the seasons as they turned.
Slowly, her heart began to yearn
For a companion, with which to share the sky.

One day it appeared in the night
A child moon, to share and make mother’s heart light.
With a child in her arms, mother stayed from the hunt
And mother and child both, grew thin and gaunt.
Child cries, her stomach empty. Mother knows she must hunt once more.

So mother leaves her precious cub
And stalks the star-stag once again.
Bellies full and shining brightly
They walk together through the night.

Still sometimes mother leaves her child.
Sometimes it is child who wanders away.
Wait but awhile and they’ll return to each other
Snuggling close as they sleep for the day.”

“Like mother moon, I sometimes hold my cubs too close. But I also know that I can not stop either of you from being what you were meant to be.”

“Ember, you will lead the Wolfriders when I am gone. I wasn’t much older than you when I became chief. When Bearclaw died, I was shocked. He had lived so long, I think I just assumed that he would live forever. And Bearclaw,” Cutter chuckled softly, “He just never thought beyond today. There’s so much that I had to work out for myself. It will be the same for you when your time comes, but while I’m here I want to prepare you, share what I can.”

Ember squeezed her eyes to stop the sting of tears. She thought back to the times she had played at being chieftess. It was starting to seem foolish to her now. All along she’d thought how great it would be to have the power and control, she’d never really thought about what she’d have to lose to get it.

“Suntop, I know that I can’t help you. You have awesome gifts, gifts you have spent most of your life trying to avoid using. A bird with a broken wing will sometimes lose the ability to fly, even after the wing is fully mended. Kept from the sky, he will whither and die. I don’t want that to happen to you. I want you to learn and grow and soar up to the sun. You need Savah’s help to learn, and someday you will have it again.”

“Someday, I will have to let you go. But I’m just not ready. Not so soon after…” There was a pause as he fought to control the emotions threatening to overwhelm him. “Not yet. Do you understand?” He felt the nodding of two soft heads. Soon he heard nothing but gentle snoring on either side.

Cutter held on to his cubs as he watched the faint glow of Suntop’s lamp fade into the slowly brightening day.

jeb

This is a color version of the illustration for the story above.

joselle

Now ya just gotta repost that awesome Khavi picture you did for me!

:love:

jeb

Will do! I am almost done with the color version of the first sketch so I'll be putting that up shortly, too.

jeb

This was my attempt at drawing a few comic pages. The story is Coming of Age by Lynn Abbey from the anthology The Blood of Ten Chiefs Vol. 1



jeb

Medieval Strongbow and Moonshade illustration for Tenderfoot's December Grab-bag story.



jeb

January Grab-bag story

"FLOOD"

It started with the sound of rushing water in her ears, faint at first, then rising in a crescendo to deafening roar. All was pale brown light. Bubbles swirled around her as she was carried along, tossed by the uncontrollable current. Her legs kicked and her arms flailed wildly as she sought to make out up from down. Her hands clawed for the surface, striving to catch hold of anything, anything that would steady her and stop her from being carried away. Her lungs burned with the effort not to breathe. She panicked, not knowing how much longer she could fight the instinct forcing her lungs to fill.

She gasped, and was shocked to find not water filling her lungs, but the fresh, cooling evening breeze. She opened her eyes. The shadows outside her den were long with the coming of night. Her mother crouched in the doorway, spear at her side, about to leave but stopped by the sound of her daughter.



“Wisp?” Brightfeather could barely make out the shape of her child at the back of the den. Brown eyes, brown hair, wrapped in brown furs against brown stone. Named for her small size at birth, Wisp’s name had been aptly chosen. Always thin and quiet, she seemed to be able to disappear at will, fading into the landscape, insubstantial as smoke.

Almost full grown, Wisp had yet to claim her place in the tribe. Most wolfriders her age had long ago bonded with wolf-friends. Wisp had not. Although Brightfeather was satisfied with her daughter’s skills, Wisp had no desire to be part of the hunt.

More troubling, Wisp did not know her soul-name. Brightfeather did. It had rang out loud and clear to her and her lifemate at their joining. She did not know why her daughter couldn’t hear it. Brightfeather had stopped speaking it aloud long ago, thinking that it would only truly have meaning for Wisp if she found it for herself.

“I’m all right.” Her mother’s questioning gaze lingered. “I was dreaming of water.”

“We all are, cub. We all are.”

It had been the driest spring that anyone could remember. Making it worse was that it was following a winter that had seen too few snows. Normally this time of year would find the ground moist and swollen as the snowpack worked its way down the hillsides. Streams that were usually torrents of winter melt were barren gulleys. Spring was usually a time when the lean winter months gave way to an abundance of returning wildlife, but this year with the usual watering places small or gone, the game had moved on.

What the hunters were finding were bears, waking hungry from their long winter sleep. Not able to find their normal springtime feast they were ranging wider and wider from their mountain dens. There had been several close calls as both elves and animals searched for the same limited food supplies, but so far no injuries.

Wisp sat up.

“You’re going hunting.” It was a statement, not a question, as there could be no question of the need to hunt, but still there was an undercurrent of uncertainty that Brightfeather picked up in her daughter’s voice. As always when looking at her daughter, her thoughts were carried back to her lifemate. He’d been gone over eight turns of the season now, but Wisp always kept him close. Her coloring and temperament were her father’s. Her fear, however, was her own. Brightfeather wondered again how the bear that had taken her lifemate had stolen her daughter’s spirit, as well.

Wisp expected no assurances, and Brightfeather had none to give. Brightfeather gave her daughter a gentle smile, then left to join her hunting party.
________________________________________________________________________

It was several days later when Wisp finally heard the wolf-call. The hunt had met with success and already the tribe was perking up with thoughts of returned loved ones and full bellies in mind. They were still quite a ways off, and Wisp decided to climb the ridge above their dens to get the first glimpse of the hunter’s return.

It was slow climbing. The evening air was hot for the season and this night it seemed to close about her with an oppressive weight. Her feet often slipped on the dry ground. The brush was brown as autumn. More than once when she reached for a branch to steady herself it crumbled in her hands. Finally, sweating and parched, she stood atop the summit.

She took a minute to gaze over the dry river valley before turning her attention upslope to the direction the howls had come from. The light was fading but she was finally able to pick out the returning elves Because of their burden they came down the valley floor, instead of keeping to the trees as they usually would have. It had been a good hunt indeed. The six elven hunters carried two spears between them, loaded with elk meat.

Wisp was just about to head back down when something else caught her attention. A flash in the sky just behind the hunters. She hadn’t noticed before the darkness growing on the horizon, an odd blue darker than the evening sky. A storm was coming, and heading their way fast.



At first Wisp felt relief that there would finally be an end to the long drought. She was about to send the good news to her tribe mates, but stopped. It came upon her in a sudden understanding. The ground was too dry. The water that fell on it would not be absorbed by the soil and the plants. It would roll off the hard ground and down the slopes to the low lands and valleys. Valleys like the one her mother was in now.

Large droplets began to splatter against her as she sent a new vision to the tribe, this one of the hunting party engulfed in a wave as the water came rushing down from the mountains. The loose ground that had hampered her climb up was quickly becoming slippery mud. She quickly became covered in cuts and scratches as she hit one bush or tree after another, the collisions the only thing controlling her descent as she fought to get to the bottom of the hill.

She could hear it now. A sound below the rustling of dry leaves and patter of raindrops on the hard earth. A low rumbling and groaning. The creaking and cracking of large limbs being torn from their trees. On level ground now, Wisp moved more quickly and burst from the trees just in time to witness the horrible image she had already sent to her tribefolk.

The hunters with their burden, following the dry creek bed, hesitated, seeking the source of the new noise. Finding it, they turned to look up the ravine. Wisp was close enough to see the shock on her mother’s face as the great churning brown mass overtook them. Suddenly, there were no wolves, no riders, only a foaming, twisting river, moving forward with an unstoppable force.

Wisp stood for a moment, stunned. A figure broke the surface. It struggled to keeps its head above water but was pulled back under and disappeared in the torrent. Without a thought Wisp plunged into the dirty water.

At first it was just like her dream. She was twisted and pummeled, unable to control her body as it was pushed by the raging torrent. But this time something changed. Somehow she became something outside of herself. She was aware of her body being thrown about, but she was also aware of every part of the water, from where it began with the rain in the uplands down to its churning, frothy head as it headed down the valley. She was a long brown serpent, her scales slipping and coiling over the ground as she was pulled onward by gravity.

Like dirt on her snake back, she was aware of things in the water. Branches, animals, wolves, elves. She found she could flex her water coils and affect the movement of the flotsam as it flowed along with her serpent body. Carefully, she turned and bent, directing what she could up to the surface and out toward the banks. Her own little body she batted around, until she was aware of contact with something. Not something hard like rocks and sticks, something soft. Giving one last heave with her serpent body, she left it. She wrapped her arms around the softness and felt herself carried up, gasping as she finally broke the surface.

At once hands were on her, dragging her up the slope away from the flood. She opened her eyes to find Brightfeather held tightly in her arms.

“Mother?” Tentatively, Wisp laid her hand on Brighfeather’s chest. Her skin was pale and cold. There was no rising, no falling. “No!”

Wisp collapsed against her mother’s body. The emptiness was infinite, stretching out farther then Wisp had ever imagined. Then, something began to fill it. It welled up inside her. A knowledge, crystallizing, guiding her. A word.

As it was rising to flood every part of her something else was happening. The muddy water began to flow out of her mother. It welled up out of her stomach and lungs, brown bubbling out of her nose and mouth. Brightfeather convulsed. The water was replaced with air in a ragged, rasping gasp. Wisp held her tight as she shook, violent coughing ridding her body of silt and debris. Gradually it began to subside. Brightfeather’s eyes opened slightly, moving rapidly as she tried to find something to focus on, something that would anchor her to where she was and what had happened. They found Wisp and stopped.

*Royl?*

Her hand lifted weakly. Wisp caught it in her own and folded it to herself.

*Yes.*


_____________________________________________________________

The moonlight shone brightly on Tanner as he took his place in the center of his tribe.

“My friends, our last howl was one of mourning. A time to remember tribe and pack-mates lost in the flood. This night we celebrate something gained.” He motioned, and Wisp rose to join him in the circle. “The cub we knew as Wisp acted fearlessly in a time of need, awakening the power within her and saving tribemates as well. No longer a wisp to be blown about in the wind, she comes before us to claim a new name. Tonight we howl for Riversong!”

Heads tilted back, their voices rose and blended, an unending stream rising up to the sky.

jeb

There was a question on the Leetah thread of "Keeping in Character" wondering why Leetah could not refuse Rayek.



At the beginning of the quest Leetah confided to Nightfall that she was scared to go with Cutter, and I think that was a strong part of her character then. I think she was attracted to Rayek because he was brave and strong. Then when Cutter showed up he was brave and strong, too. I think the choice between them was, for Leetah, a choice between freedom and protection. She knew that Rayek would protect her and never require her to put herself in danger, but he also wouldn't let her grow or be herself. Cutter would give her freedom, but would also require more from her. He wouldn't be content to stay in the Sun Village and would sooner or later require her to go beyond her comfort zone and stand on her own.



These are two short stories exploring their relationship pre-wolfriders.



___________________________________________________________



Leetah lifted the heavy water jug and made her way back to her hut. Like always she could feel the eyes of the village on her. Always looking, always watching. She was proud of the help she provided her people, even though she knew it bordered on dependence. But where was the one she depended on? A particular pair of eyes, yellow as the rising moon, where absent today.



Leetah knew that Rayek was just hunting in the mountains, but his absence terrified her. He was always so proud of the powers he had. It was, at the same time, infuriating and endearing. His arrogance enraged her, but the power he had over her was his ability to head off over the mountains on his own, to face the unknown. Leetah had never been beyond the borders of their little village, and hoped never to have to. In his presence, she felt safe in a way that no one else could make her feel. With him she didn’t have to be the strong healer. All the expectation of the villagers melted away in his presence. He was happy to play the role of the strong protector, and she was more than happy to let him.



The setting sun lit up the surrounding cliffs and Leetah stepped a little faster against the darkening of the sky. As she approached her hut the tinkling of beads made her slow her pace. Rayek stood in the shadows outside of her doorway.



“I’ve returned, Leetah.”



“Was there a question?” She made no protest as he took the heavy jug.



“Someday I may not. You never know what can happen out in the wilderness.” Rayek did not notice the slight pause she made as she held the curtain aside, or the hand that momentarily covered her stinging eyes. She lit the candle slowly, her eyes were dry when she turned to face him.



“Are you hurt?”



“No!” She arched her eyebrow. “I mean, yes! A boar, his tusks hit me here as I was stabbing him.” She brushed her hand gently against his shoulder and down his forearm. “And I scratched my leg on some sharp rocks coming down the hillside.” She traced her fingers along his thigh up to his hip before clasping his hand and pulling her gently after him.



“Then let me see what I can do for you.”



_____________________________________________________________





At the shriek from the half-clothed maiden running out of the healer’s hut all activity in the Sun Village came to a grinding halt.



“A diamond-back! A diamond-back in the healer’s hut!”



Rayek grabbed the shaken maiden. “Leetah! Is she all right?”



The maiden shook her head, then burst into tears. Rayek hastily handed her off to a group of clucking, comforting villagers and made his way through the gathering crowd and into Leetah’s hut.



“Leetah?” It took just a minute for his eyes to adjust to the darkness inside. He took in the scattered clothes and jars, then spotted the diamond back, curled among the bed clothes.



“Leetah?” He turned quickly at the hiss that issued from the shadows.



“Shh! Oh, please. Be quiet!” He followed her whisper to where she crouched, frozen, pressed up against the wall. Her eyes did not move, but remained fixed on the serpent across the room.



He touched her shoulder. She flinched. Her skin was cold and slick with sweat.



“Rayek?” Her eyes shifted to him. She flung her arms around his neck. “Get rid of it. Please! Just get rid of it.”



Nodding, he gently pulled her arms away. He stood and walked slowly toward the center of the hut, unsheathing his knife as he went. The serpent lifted its head, its tongue flicked, tasting him. Rayek crouched, his body tensed. At a slight movement of his hand, a vase tumbled off a nearby table. The serpent, ready to strike, went for it. Rayek sprang forward, severing the serpent’s head with one slice.



There was a thump as Leetah fell forward to the floor, sobbing. Rayek held her as her shaking subsided. “It’s all right. I’m here. I’m here for you.”

Embala

Welcome back! Thank you very much for the fast rebuilt!

It's great that you've saved your stories, too :D

jeb

Thanks, Embala! Welcome back, too!



I am glad the forum is back up because I was just finishing this and don't think I would have if I didn't have posting it as an incentive. I posted the sketch before but here it is colored.







(BTW - she's on stagback, that's the funny brown lump behind her.)

jeb



jeb



jeb

jeb

Embala

Very nice! Love the difference between this two - the clear lines for happy peaceful Redlance and the scetchy shading for impressively angry Cutter.

[size=9:355c77f4f9]Please forgive me simply quoting myself.[/size:355c77f4f9]

jeb

I was gonna say, I've had the strangest feeling of deja vu. Grin

Syrena

Ohh, I love your Khavi illustrations. You seem to really have a feel for drawing her.

And I love the comic! Will you be doing more pages?

nevaratoiel

I'm on a Strongbow hunt for a while now. Especially these days, since I'm revamping my site. Well, I seem to be saying this a lot today on the Scroll.

You mind if I snitch those Strongbow/Moonshade pictures and put them on my site at the next update? Wink

bukittyan

Yay! Pike! And in his storyteller mode. I love how you did the lighting in the piece. Beautiful! thank you!

:clap:

jeb

Syrena - Thanks! I haven't really thought about doing more of that comic, it was more kind of an experiment, although I have done a couple pages from my own fiction, so you never know!



nevaratoiel - I already responded on your thread, but you're welcome to post my pictures.



bukittyan - Glad you like it, as it was your request!

Embala

I had to return and give the wide range of variety you show some more attention and love :) It's a special gift to be able to write both well developed stories and illustrate them by yourself.

The view on Cutter's fear of loss and the twins struggle for more freedom is absolutely comprehensible - with touching illustrations.

Your original chars Brightfeather and Wisp/Riversong are so colorful - both in prose and picture.

Rereading the short stories about Leetah's and Rayek's relationship at the Sorrow's End I remembered how strange it feeled the first time - THIS should be Leetah? ... and the remembrance following how different pre-Cutter Leetah was - how afraid of the wilderness and situations out of her controll.

I agree with Syrena - your comic makes appetite for more.

I said elswhere already how much I like the Kahvi pictures with the rich details. They show two very different facettes of the warrior chieftess. I miss the scetches a bit - they were a nice contrast to the worked out pictures.
And the well composed look on storyteller Pike - in warm earthy night colors.

Last not least the very different but equally lovely takes on Strongbow and Moonshade ...

jeb

Finally! Someone appreciates my genius! :twisted: (Just kidding.)



Thanks, Embala. I hope that people are enjoying what I've attempted to create, but it's always great to get some nice, positive feedback.



Thanks, you made my day. 8)

krwordgazer

I believe I commented about most of these when you first posted them-- it's too bad the comments are lost. . . Unhappy

But about those I don't remember seeing before:

Your comic is very good; I enjoyed Rahnee's dilemma as seen through your eyes. The two Kahvi pics capture her very well. I especially like Pike by the fire. Beautiful mood! :D

jeb

This is the hijacking of one of Gloomberry's stories. (With permission.)

Link to Gloomberry's story on fanfiction.net here or on the scroll here.


The story leading up to this point: The elves have left the world of Abode to find a new planet with no threat of humans. Skywise has become master of the palace, and gained the form of a high one. Rayek, now free of Winnowill's spirit, has returned to the palace to continue learning with Timmain. Cutter has died, but even though he promised to fly in the palace with Skywise in spirit, there has been no sign of him. In grief, Skywise has become sullen and withdrawn. Leetah has turned her healing powers upon herself, becoming crazy and disfigured.

Rayek tries to help Skywise. They realize that no Wolfrider spirits have ever been seen in the Palace. They decide to return to Abode to search for Cutter. Cutter has discovered that all the spirits of the Wolfriders are contained in the Father Tree, with no ability to leave. Skywise, Rayek and Leetah come to the Father Tree, where Cutter sees them, but only Leetah senses him. In her madness, Rayek and Skywise do not understand what she is saying until they are away from Abode. Once they figure it out, they return to the Father Tree to try to contact Cutter again.

*************************************************************

Rayek and Skywise stood looking at the charred stump of the Father Tree. The sight took Skywise back to the first time he’d seen this, at the beginning of Cutter’s quest. Cutter’s young face burned fresh in his memory.

*Cutter?* He placed a hand on the burned wood. *Tam?*

Rayek waited silently as Skywise continued his closed sending. Finally Skywise slumped down.

“It’s no good. It’s like I can feel…something. But it’s just beyond reach.” The ache of Cutter’s betrayal bit with fresh intensity. Skywise’s voice softened with the question bigger than the moment. “Why won’t he come?”

Emotions and reason battled inside Rayek’s mind. Cutter. His greatest rival. All the things Rayek had struggled so hard for his whole life – achievement, recognition, love – seemed to have just fallen into the Wolfrider’s hands. Now that his mortal body was gone and Rayek should have been free of him, his spirit still permeated everything. Leetah was taken as far from Rayek now as she had been at his defeat on the bridge of destiny. His tentative friendship with Skywise was made possible, yet always colored by Cutter’s absence.

Finally, resigned, he walked over and placed a hand on Skywise’s shoulder.

“Let me see what I can do.” He smiled bitterly. “I have some experience dealing with stubborn spirits.” His hand was caught as it slid off Skywise’s shoulder.

“Tam.” Skywise did not look up. “That’s his soul-name. You may need it.”

Rayek nodded and started forward. He placed his hands on the soft, charred bark. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, clearing away the fighting emotions. His mind calmed, and he was plunged into darkness.

************************************************************

He floated, a speck of energy in an infinite void. He sensed the presence of others and floated toward them, but was stopped by the magnificent spirit of a branch-horn stag. It reared as it pulled close. Nostrils flaring, it gave a rough bark, daring Rayek to challenge its majesty. With an unearthly grace, it pivoted and headed off into the ether, drawing in its wake a thundering horde. Wolves and riders chased after it, features shared between one group and the other so closely that at times it was difficult to tell elves from beasts.

Rayek caught a sense of something familiar.

“Strongbow? Moonshade?” Two wolf-elves stopped to regard him with curiosity, before blending back into the hunt.

Rayek drifted, aimlessly following the wisps of presences he felt. Some, curious, came close. But they did not recognize him and drifted away again. Again he felt something familiar. He followed the feeling to a wolf-elf woman lying in the branches of a tree. The tree swayed gently and every so often a branch would come down to softly caress the woman. She did not look at Rayek but smiled contentedly to herself. Rayek sifted through his memories to link the familiar feeling with something.

“Nightfall?”

The woman looked at him and blinked in surprise. “I do not know that name. It seems I once did.” She looked confused for a minute. “But, no. It does not mean anything. We are Twen and Ulm.”

The branches of the tree shook and became the arms of a man holding the woman.

“I am looking for Cutter.” They looked at Rayek thoughtfully, but he could tell they did not understand what he wanted. “Tam, I am looking for Tam.”

They nodded and the woman pointed. “There.”

Rayek turned. At first he could see nothing, but then two eyes, burning ice blue, appeared out of the dark. As they slinked closer he could see the wolf’s tawny coat. It lowered its head and emitted a rumbling growl. For hundreds of years Cutter had fought the “now” of wolf thought. Now, all hope lost, he had succumbed to it entirely.


There was no other warning, and the great beast’s paws were on him, knocking him over. He felt the jaws tighten on his throat. He knew he was in the spirit world and knew – hoped? - that his spirit would not be destroyed in this way, but the sensation was unnerving nonetheless.

“Cutter-“ The low growl again, the teeth pressed harder. “Tam.” Surprised, the animal loosened its hold slightly, but then the eyes narrowed, and the pressure increased again.

*Cub-snatcher!* The wolf’s mind spit its fury. *Life-stealer!*

Rayek fliched.

“Yes.” A low growl. “Ah…I was. But that was a long time ago.” Another growl and Rayek was momentarily engulfed in the consciousness of passing time, time marked by the pain of loved ones lost. “But this time I come to help. I came here with Skywise.” The wolf removed its jaws. “Skywise has been missing you…has been wondering why you haven’t come to the palace.”

The wolf let out a high whine. *Trapped.*

“Yes, we understand now. We didn’t know what had happened to your spirit. We came before but didn’t think you were here. It was only after we left that we realized Leetah had sensed you.”

*Leetah.* The shaggy mane began to smooth. Arms and legs lengthened. The posture became more upright. Rayek’s mind was flooded with an image of Leetah in her current state and a feeling of intense concern. *What happened to her?*

“Grief. Both Skywise and Leetah changed when they thought you’d broken your promise to them. Leetah a little moreso.”

The face continued to flatten, until Cutter was before him, surrounded by his sorrow. “What am I to do?”

Rayek watched Cutter for a moment, poised at the precipice, still not quite sure he was ready to take the final step, to move past the point from where there would be no return. He must act now or not at all. “There may be a way.”

Cutter’s head snapped up. “What? How?”

“I have been host to a spirit before…”

Cutter just stared at Rayek for a moment, then slowly understanding dawned.

“You mean me…you…?” Cutter shook his head and almost laughed at the outrageousness of it. “No. It would never work.”

“I know what I am offering, and why. Believe me, I would not be offering if there was another way. If it doesn’t work out I can always release you, to return here…or somewhere. It is up to you to decide to take what I offer or not. What would you do to be with Skywise and Leetah again?”

Cutter’s ice-blue eyes met the sun-gold of Rayek’s. A tremendous gift was being offered, but at what price, for both of them? Still, he could not refuse. “Anything. Everything.”

“It’s settled, then.”
________________________________________________________________________

Rayek regained consciousness to Skywise’s face hovering anxiously over him.

“What happened? Are you all right? Did you find him?”

Inwardly, Rayek balked at the last question, wishing Skywise’s concern had been for him alone. “I’m fine. Yes.” He could feel Cutter’s impatience washing over him and sent inward. *I think I’ll give you two some time alone.*

*You can do that?*

*Yes, I can do that. Try not to break anything.*

To Skywise, he spoke aloud. “I’ll see you back at the palace.” With that, Rayek left his physical body.

Cutter was aware of sensations that he hadn’t felt in so long. The grass beneath him, wet with the morning dew. The cutting chill of the moist, clear air. The soft morning sunlight streaming through the trees. All these things he had seen before, but he felt as if he had never really noticed them. Had it always been so beautiful?

His attention turned to Skywise, who was staring at Rayek’s face in confusion.

Rayek had said he was going back to the palace, yet he continued to lie there, not moving a muscle, not saying what just happened. It was maddening. Then Skywise noticed a change. Rayek’s eyes moistened, the beginning of a smile started to show. Skywise growled in frustration. “Are you going to say something, or just sit there grinning like an idiot!”

“Fahr.”

“What?” Skywise backed away in confusion. Rayek knowing his soul-name? How? Then it clicked. “Tam!”

“My…eyes…see…with joy,” Cutter clasped Skywise’s arm. “My hand…touches…”

Skywise collapsed into the embrace of his soul-brother. “I thought you were gone.”

“Never! If I’d had any choice…”

“I know.”

In the closeness of each other all misunderstandings were forgiven, lost time forgotten. The two pulled away from each other, drying their eyes, then sat comfortably beside each other in the soft moss, listening to the chorus of birds increase with the growing sunlight.

Skywise let out a low whistle. “This is crazy, you know.”

“I know.”

“Absolutely howling mad.”

“Absolutely.” Cutter sighed. “But if it means being here with you and Leetah, I’ll try to make it last as long as I can.”

“Knowing you and Rayek, that shouldn’t be too long.” There was silence as they both contemplated the two’s long standing rivalry. “Although it might be different now. He has changed since you were last together. The question is, have you?”

“What, you mean more than dying?”

“Yeah, more than that.”

“Sheesh! You think that at least would have made Rayek happy!” Putting the joking aside, Cutter answered the question in earnest. “I don’t know. I don’t know if I have, if I can. But even if he blasts me out of his brain tomorrow, here and now, it was worth it.” Cutter smiled. “Now, for some reason Rayek seems to be rather fond of this.” He indicated Rayek’s body with a wave. “We should probably get back to the palace before he gets angry and decides to leave me here today.”

Cutter rose unsteadily to his feet and stood, swaying a bit. “Hey, do I seem taller to you?”

The chattering of birds was drowned out by the laughter of the two elves as they made their way back to the palace.

________________________________________________________________________

They found Leetah in a forest clearing, talking to a decaying stump. She pulled absently-mindedly at her skin as she muttered, creating little scale-like flaps on her arms and shoulders.

“Leetah?”

It took calling her name several times before she turned toward the source of the voice. Dismissing Rayek, she returned to chatting idly with the stump. Then her voice cut off. She turned slowly. With a puzzled look, she studied Rayek intensely.

A faint glow of understanding started to show in her face. “You…” Her eyes took on a manic glow, her hands moving agitatedly with greater speed. “And you!” She hopped around, spinning wildly. “M’ barb’rian…here!” Rayek almost moved to grab her, afraid that she would hurt herself in her excitement, but she stopped just short of him.

“Mus’ heal… mus’ remember.” Her fidgeting stopped, and she brought her hand up to softly caress Rayek’s cheek. “Mus’ …return to me, m’ love.”

Already her healing magic was having an effect. Her eyes were losing their wildness, shining with a spark of intelligence that Rayek had not seen in too long. Her body, too, although not yet changing outwardly, was shedding its monstrous twistedness and beginning to regain grace and composure. Rayek remembered they way her dancing, the simple beauty of her form, could always captivate him. He was captivated again, watching his desert flower bloom anew.

Fascinated as he was with the transformation before him, Rayek realized that he would not have been able to take his eyes off Leetah even if he wanted. Cutter’s will would not be turned from the one he loved.

Leetah was glowing, radiating a love and happiness that shone through even her tortured body. She was looking in Rayek’s eyes, but she was looking through him, looking at something that made her eyes burn with a fire he had not seen before.

Cutter was aware of a thought, barely registering on the edge of his consciousness. "She never looked at me that way." Then Rayek disappeared and Cutter was fully in his body again.

Leetah embraced Cutter, and as her own disfigurements melted away, the black of Rayek’s hair began to fade, his features soften, his skin lighten. He pulled her arms away. “Leetah, no. You can’t.” He gently tilted her chin up. “I can see you.” He brought her hand up and brushed it softly against his face. “Feel you. Be with you now in this way. That has to be enough. Rayek has given enough.”

Leetah nodded and wrapped her arms back around him. *I am sorry, my love. The healing is not quite done.* They held each other as the healing magic did the last of its work. Finally, both bodies restored, she pulled back to look him in the eyes. *Of course, I want more. But it is not unpleasant, to see you through the eyes of an old friend.*

He pulled her to him tightly. “It is very pleasant, to see you my Leetah again.”

____________________________________________________________

The last rays of afternoon sunlight came slanting through the open doorway of the palace, reflecting off the polished surfaces and giving the scroll room a warm, golden glow. From where Rayek stood he could just see a sliver of leafy green beyond. He tore his eyes away with effort.

*Stop distracting me.*

*We’ve been holed up in here all day. Are we going to waste the night, too?*

*The day hasn’t been ‘wasted’. This is important to me. Now be quiet!* Rayek turned his attention back to Timmain’s lesson, but the quiet didn’t last long.

*You used to hunt.*

“Aarrghhh!”

Skywise looked up from across the room and walked over. “Is everything all right?”

Rayek struggled to contain his annoyance. “He wants to go outside.”

Skywise assessed the situation, weighing the needs of his two friends and trying to think of a way to satisfy them both. “I think I’ve had enough of inside for one day. A little fresh air would be nice. Will you join me?”

Rayek rose reluctantly, or would have if he wasn’t suddenly forced upward by an unseen force taking control. Still, he had to admit that standing felt good. He did spend too much time inside anymore.

The sun was just setting. The sky was lit up with hues of gold and violet. At least what you could see of it through the trees. Sometimes Rayek missed the desert, the way a cloudy sky would light up with red and orange as if the whole sky was on fire. Rayek had a rare moment of melancholy as he considered a time that was lifetimes ago. Things were definitely not as simple anymore as they were in the desert.

He found Skywise standing at the edge of the forest, Rayek’s knife in one hand and spear in the other.

“You knew he wanted to go hunting.” Rayek’s voice was flat. He grabbed the spear and knife roughly. Was he to be nothing more than transport for the wolf-chief now?

Skywise read his dark mood. “I guessed.” He gave Rayek his best pleading smile. “Come on! It’s been too long, for both of us.”

It had been a long time since he had been hunting. A long time since he’d pitted his skills against nature, lost himself in the thrill of pursuit, smelled the blood of a fresh kill. “Oh, all right!”

Skywise smiled mischievously, then bounded off into the forest before Rayek could even finish attaching his knife. He fastened the final stays, then took off through the undergrowth in pursuit of his companion. The trail was easy enough to follow at first, but then it seemed to disappear. Rayek stopped and examined his surroundings, waking tracking skills that he had not used in too long.

As he searched the vegetation for signs of Skywise’s passing, he had to admire the nimbleness of his friend. Even without his wolf-blood he still had the ability to meld into the forest. Rayek could not see or hear any trace of the silver-haired elf. “All right, I’ll play your game.”

He started forward again, this time flushing a rabbit out of the bushes.

*After it, quickly!*

Before he could think about what was happening, Rayek found himself dodging branches and leaping bushes as he chased the animal, pulled forward by more than his own excitement. He was almost upon it when his spear arm jerked forward unexpectedly, throwing him off balance and headlong into a pile of brambles.

*Owl-pellets! It got away!*

Rayek pulled himself out of the sticker-patch, biting the thorns out of his hands. *Yes. But I’m fine, thanks for your concern.*

*Where did it go?* Cutter used Rayek’s body to sniff the air. *Curse this body! It’s like being covered in preserver spit. I can’t hear or smell anything!*

*This body is not the problem. I was hunting long before you were born. It’s your over-eagerness that let the rabbit get away.*

*I was not over-eager. You were too slow!*

*Of course, you would have done better! You always had to be better, faster, stronger! Always praising your cursed ‘wolf-blood’! It never got you anything but dead! Now you’re trapped in this inferior body, to stay or go at my whim! How does that feel, mongrel?!”

Rayek was astonished by the quickness of Cutter’s anger.

*It feels like you are the same old power-hungry jackal!* The force of Cutter’s will knocked Rayek off-balance. He mis-stepped on the edge of the river-bed and tumbled down the slope, landing in the water headfirst with a splash. *And once again I must show you your place!*

Rayek sputtered to the surface and pulled himself up the soggy bank. “Didn’t we already do this!”

*I guess some lessons have to be given more than once!*

Again Rayek’s muscles betrayed him, causing him to lose his footing in the slippery mud and slide back into the river. He was tossed and turned in the current, finally coming to rest in a shallow side pool.

“You infuriating barbarian!” Rayek angrily punched the water’s surface. “I don’t know what I was thinking when I got this stupid idea! Of all the foul-mannered, half-witted, sons-of-curs…I never should have let you into my mind, I should have known it would never work! I curse the day I suggested it!”

*Then why did you?!*

“Because I missed it!” Rayek froze. The sound of his voice seemed to linger, reverberating through the trees. He hadn’t meant to say that, hadn’t meant to lose control, expose so much. He cringed at the question he knew would come.

*Missed what? Missed fighting?*

Rayek sank down to sit on the muddy bank. “I missed them. Leetah and Skywise, missed who they used to be.” Rayek did not want to say this, did not want to have this conversation, but the barriers had been broken. He couldn’t seem to stop himself. His voice dropped so low, had he not been in his mind, Cutter never would have heard it. “I miss having someone in my head.”

*So is that what I am to you, a pet?*

Rayek laughed mirthlessly. “No. Winnowill was never pet-like. Except maybe the kind that turns on its owner.” He threw a stone in the calm pool of the river and watched the ripples spread over the surface. “Once I was master of the palace. Then I was the world’s guardian against Winnowill’s evil. Now what am I?” His hands lifted and fell, a question to the open air. “I miss having a purpose larger than myself. Then there was a way to help Leetah and Skywise, and I wanted to do it.”

*Still the arrogant one, aren’t you?*

“I prefer heroic.”

*Thought I’d be easy to handle, huh?*

“After Winnowill? Yes. I knew we’d have our problems. I have to say I’d forgotten how pig-headed you are. Still, it is much easier to deal with someone who’s not intent on killing you.”

*Give me time.*

“Remember, if anything happens to me, you’re back at your ‘Father Tree.’”

Rayek could feel Cutter’s anger abating as he regained control of his emotions. *So you’re not going to push me out of your head?*

“Probably not.” Rayek smiled wickedly. “But don’t get too comfortable.”

Rayek heard a rustling behind him and turned around. Skywise was standing at the treeline, half hidden in shadow.

“Is it over?”

“I can’t say that it will ever be ‘over’, but we are done for now.”

Skywise walked over to sit beside Rayek.

“And Cutter…?”

“Don’t worry. He’s still here.”

“I am worried.” The stargazer rested his hand on Rayek’s shoulder. “But about you.”

Skywise smiled at the surprised look on the other elf’s face. “I know you too well. Even after all this time you still want to do everything all on your own. When will you learn that Leetah and I can help you. That we want to help you. And not for Cutter, for you. We love having Cutter here with us once more, but we also want you to be able to be just you.”

Rayek was doubtful that they could help him, or even that he needed any help. “How?”

“Do you think it would be possible to learn to do what you do? To hold a spirit within you?”

Rayek considered this. “Yes, I suppose so.”

“Then teach Leetah and I. Then we can be vessels for his spirit, too.”

“I must say Cutter really likes this idea, but I’m not so sure.” A break from bearing the wolf-chief’s soul would be nice, but could it really be done? “You really want to do this? I’ll warn you, it’s hard enough dealing with him. Worse when he’s in your head, all the time.”

Skywise spoke, but the talking was unnecessary. Rayek could already see the answer in his warm, grey eyes. “His soul’s been a part of me almost as long as I’ve lived. I’d be happy to be a home for it now.” There was a trace of his mischievous grin. “Besides, how hard could it be?”

Rayek sighed. “You might be surprised.”

_____________________________________________________________

Leetah shifted in her sleep. “Mmmm…Cutter?” Her hand brushed against Rayek’s side, then came back, moving purposely up his thigh.

*I think that’s my signal to “go out” for a while.* This had become routine since bringing Cutter’s spirit back, with Rayek yielding his flesh to the Wolfrider to let the lovers be alone. Rayek prepared to send his spirit out to the castle but was stopped by Cutter’s sending.

*No, stay.*

Leetah burrowed her head into Rayek’s neck. Her warm breath tickled his ear as her lips tugged in gentle nips along his jawline. Rayek tried to ignore his body’s reaction. It had been along time since he had given himself over to the pleasure of the flesh. He couldn’t say he wasn’t tempted. And to be with Leetah again…*Are you sure?*

*Yes.*

*But what about…*

“Leetah?”

“Hmm?”

“I’m still here.”

She moved astride him, her finger a slight pressure against his lips. “Rayek, shh!” She smiled. “I know.”

This was a strange experience. He tried not to control his body, to remain an observer as his body was given over to the practiced instincts of the lovers. But shortly he realized that it was not possible. He was part of it. Part of everything they were doing and feeling and Rayek had never felt anything like this before. He had sampled what a healer’s power could do, but this was no magic. This was something more.

Nothing in his long history had prepared him for this. A roll in the sleep furs with Kahvi had been a form of entertainment, a pleasant way to fill long, cold nights. For Winnowill, pleasure had been a game. A reward given when it suited her, taken away when it no longer served her needs. To both, joining was a tool, a means to get the ends they wanted.

But here were two souls, joining only for the joy of it. Thinking nothing but of this person, at this time. Delighting in the feel, the scent, the taste of one another. There were no inhibitions, no worries about what was wrong or right. Just one sensation leading to another, each one savored and leading naturally to the next, each exquisitely better than the last.

*Tam.*

Rayek had heard Cutter’s soul-name before, but it had just been sounds strung together, meaning nothing. Now, as Leetah sent it, the full meaning became clear. Hot-headed, loyal, stubborn? They were all just words, inadequate to describe this being that was Tam. He was so much more, yet also so much simpler than Rayek had ever known.

And Leetah. It was as if he was seeing her for the first time, stripped of all the ideas, the preconceived notions of who she was or was supposed to be. He had never seen her weaknesses, or her strengths, so clearly. How had he always underestimated her? How had he always expected so much?

He felt something within himself opening up in response. For once he let himself go. He was vulnerable and accepting of who he was, and of who he was not. There was no need, now, to be anything else. He surrendered to the moment, finally lost in the “now” of wolf thought.

_____________________________________________________________

Rayek woke and groaned with the effort of movement. “ I am so sore.”

*You should be. Your body had to do the work of two.*

Anybody would wake in a good mood after a night like that, but he sensed something more in Cutter’s playful tone.

*What are you so happy about?*

*Recognition.*

Rayek sat up, fully awake, his aches forgotten. *What? How? Recognition exists to create offspring. You’re just a spirit. You can’t Recognize.*

Cutter’s amusement was extremely annoying. *Who’s witless now? Not me, nut-mash-for-brains. You!*

Rayek looked over at Leetah. She was curled up in the sleep-furs, still half-asleep, a contented smile on her lips. Slowly, she became aware of Rayek’s gaze upon her and the shocked look on his face. Her smile widened.

“Is it true?” He whispered.

She caressed his face. “Oh, my old friend. Finally we see each other truly.” She placed his hand on her belly. “Yes, it’s true.”

Leetah’s soul. A child. It was too much for Rayek to contain. Not knowing what else to do, he tilted his head back and howled.

_____________________________________________________________


It had been a turn of the seasons since Cutter had returned to the palace. Things didn’t always go smoothly. He and Rayek still had their moments, especially when Rayek would tire of too many days of lessons followed by nights of hunting. But now he could move between Rayek, Skywise and Leetah, enjoying the time to be with each. Rayek would joke that he had been able to contain all the spirits of the gliders alone, but it took three elves to hold this one Wolfrider.

Leetah’s cub was growing quickly inside her body. Cutter was amazed to be able to share this special time with her in a way that had not been possible with his own cubs. And even though it wasn’t his cub, he couldn’t love it more and delighted in watching it take form and spirit. He would spend hours with Leetah, sitting in the sun and listening to her sing songs to her little one.

And Skywise was no longer just master of the palace for the new generations. He was also the Skywise of old, and the children would gather around him to hear stories of the Wolfriders of old, always laughing at the one-sided arguments as Skywise would argue with his chief about the details of a particular story.

Cutter even found that he enjoyed the time spent with Rayek. With no more power struggles over lovemates or palaces, they had been able to finally come to an understanding, and that had lead, eventually, to friendship.

Skywise found Rayek in the scroll room.

“I am thinking of going out for a while. Would Cutter like to come?”

Rayek smiled. “Of course.”

They bent together until their foreheads were just touching. Skywise sent his spirit into the other’s head. He found Cutter in the darkness. “It’s been a while since we watched stars together.”

*It has. Let’s go!*

It was always tricky, this transition between consciousnesses. In the early days, Cutter had been afraid more than once that he would wind up back at the Father Tree, but now they did it with practiced ease. His next view of the world was through the eyes of the stargazer.

Rayek and Skywise walked through the grand entry way and out into the night. They found Leetah waiting, blankets in her arms.

“I’m taking Cutter star-watching.”

“I know, Rayek sent.” He silently took the blankets from her and they shared a knowing smile. “We are going to enjoy some time by ourselves, too.”

Skywise chuckled. “I bet you are.”

Skywise turned up the hill toward his favorite star-watching rock, but then stopped and took in the scene below him. Rayek and Leetah were making their way into the forest, arms around each other, heads close as they became lost in a private conversation. From the huts behind them talking and laughter of elves carried up to them on the gentle breeze. Over all was the faint glow and rising spires of the palace.

“Is everything all right?” asked Skywise.

*Yes.* Cutter released his hold on Skywise’s body and they continued up the slope. *Everything’s fine, Skywise. Everything is just fine.*

Embala

It's great you at least have saved your story part. Would have been a pity to loose it.

*crossing fingers* Hopefully Gloomberry is in the mood to redo hers, the beginning as well as her ending.

jeb

This is a sketch I made inspired by Tymber's call for drawings for his Stonehowl Holt. I haven't read enough of his stories to know the characters enough to attempt one (sorry, Tymber) but did have an idea for a kind of Viking Elf:



Embala

Oh, Jeb ... she's so beautiful. I'm sure Tymber would love her and will find a fitting character, too!

stargazer

I'll give Gloomberry a nudge and get her to repost her story Wink . I think it's up at Fanfiction.net already though.

jeb

Thanks, Stargazer. I didn't know about that website. Put in a link to her story.

jeb

February's Grab-bag



SOLITUDE



The setting sun lit up the sky like flame. The world was golden, accenting the long shadows cast by the sandstone cliffs. A figure rose from the shadow depths and stood atop the cliffs, surveying the valley floor below, his spear glinting in the last fading rays of sunlight.



Night, the time when the desert springs to life. Spared from the heat of the day, the small animals would begin their foraging for what little food there was. The predators were on the move as well, looking for whatever they could catch with fang and claw, and sometimes, honed metal.



In the distance there was a faint sound of snuffling and grunting. The quarry was spotted. The figured picked his cloak up and wrapped it around himself, his only protection from the quickly cooling night air. Silently he made his way down the cliff-side, following the sound of the desert pigs as they scavenged for roots and insects.



The sound got louder and louder, until he knew the herd was just on the other side of the brush. He stood stone still, listening carefully for which way the group was moving. He lifted his spear. This prey was loud, but not stupid. If he gave himself away too soon, they would be gone before he could get close enough. He waited as they got closer. Finally, the first of the animals came out into the moonlight in the clearing before him. He released his spear, flying in a perfect arc towards the lead boar.



As he tossed his spear, his cloak was pulled taut against his back, where it touched, a sudden, searing sting. He rolled his shoulders, hoping to shed the pain, but it came again, biting, burning, overpowering all thought of the hunt.



He whipped off his cloak with a snap and saw the cause of his torment. A bit of blackness, like the sky fallen to the ground. A few legs moved in its death throes, stretching and flexing in mindless spasms. The moonlight glinted off its hard body like twinkling stars. On its abdomen he could just make out the crimson shape of a dipper.



A Mate-Eater, the smallest and deadliest of the desert’s dangers. Gingerly, he felt the spot between his shoulder blades. Two welts, burning like fire against his fingers.



It wouldn’t be long, he knew, before his body would no longer be under his mind’s control. He had to move quickly.



His spear was gone with the squealing boar as it ran to its certain death. He pulled out his knife. Bowing his shoulders, he swiped the blade as best he could reach, hissing at the new pain. The swath of skin fell to the ground, hopefully taking some of the venom with it.



He could feel the moist warmth dripping down his back, the cool air grating on raw nerves. Stiffly, he retrieved the cloak and swung it over him, wincing as it settled on his back.



Now, to get help. How many days out was he? He couldn’t even be sure anymore.



His way out had been circuitous, his path dictated by the nearness of water and shade. His survival depended on getting as far as he could as quickly as possible. His way back would be direct, over the cliffs and across the hard-pan desert floor.



Scrambling up the cliff was harder now than it ever had been. Every lifting of his arms pure agony as the movement opened the wound fresh again. There was no way up that did not require reaching and pulling, stretching flesh and muscle that cried out against the effort.



Even though the night was cool, the pain and exertion soon worked up a sweat, the salty perspiration running down his back, stinging. He tried to keep his thoughts on nothing but the next handhold, the next foothold, never looking at how much further he had to go until finally the ground in front of him was flat. He pulled himself to the top with a groan. He wanted to stop and rest, but it was a luxury he could not afford. Quickly getting up on his feet he started across the wide plateau, a solitary figure moving swiftly and steadily, dwarfed beneath the starry sky.

_______________________________________________________________________



It was nearly dawn when he reached the edge of the plateau. He paused for a moment to drink from his waterskin and contemplate the valley below him. This would be the true test. Normally, he would stay here in the shadow of the mountain, waiting for the cool of night before attempting to cross the wide basin. But already his hands were shaking. He could barely hold the waterskin still. Precious drops of water fell on his chest and to the sandy ground. He steeled himself mentally and prepared for the descent.



The agony was incredible. During the night’s walk, the cloak had dried to the skinned flesh of his back. Now, his movements pulled it free with a pain worse than the initial wound. The cloak was no longer supple and pliant, but stiff and heavy, abrading the tender flesh beneath. Worse, he was having trouble coordinating his feet and hands. Several times he found himself sliding down the slope, landing on a boulder or bush with a jarring suddenness. Finally, one last mis-step and he found himself sliding down the rocky scree, getting his hands out in front of him just in time to stop a head first impact with a large boulder.



He stood for a minute with his hands resting against the rock. The sun had come up with blazing ferocity and now burned down on him, the hot air and dust he had kicked up making him choke. His arms and legs shook even as he stood still. The bile rose to his throat and he bent down to the dusty ground. His body tried to purge itself of the poison, an unnaturally bright and green color against the brown dirt. His head swum and he fought against the blackness coming in from the edges of his vision. He put his head down against the still cool roughness of the boulder. He had to go on. He pushed himself back up to standing and headed out into the nothingness.

________________________________________________________________________



It shimmered before him, a vision of water greater than anything he would ever have imagined, always before him, but always beyond his reach, no matter how far he walked. His conscious mind would have recognized it as an illusion, if his conscious mind were working at all.



He had become a shell, with no thought or purpose, moving instinctually, consumed by the effort of putting one foot in front of the other.



Not even thirst drove him forward. The waterskin had long since been abandoned, his body no longer knowing the difference between water and poison.



The footprints in the sand were irregular. His pace had been slowing, as more and more time was spent on keeping balance and staying upright. Finally, even that was too much for him. He could no longer resist the pull of gravity. Weighted by the heat of the day, the dust barely stirred as he collapsed. Only one last spark of consciousness strayed out into the stillness.



*Savah-*

____________________________________________________________



Hardness. Heaviness. The strange sensation of awareness of himself returning. His arms, his legs. Finally the sense enough to open his eyes. He expected the drying sun, but found himself instead in cool darkness.



“Where-?”



“Shhh.” He heard the sound of water pouring, the soft chiming of metal. “I have taken care of the worst of your injuries. You still need to rest.”



He felt her arms, strong and gentle, around him, pulling him up, then the cup against his lips. The water was soothing, washing away the grit of sand from his throat.



He was grateful for the water, the coolness, the presence of Leetah. But even as he felt it, the gratitude was sliding away, sinking into a feeling of shame.



She should never have done this. Never to have needed to. Never have seen him this way, broken and helpless. He tried to lift himself but his body, already taxed to the limit, would do no more. Defeated, he allowed himself the sink back to the cushion.



Leetah saw his struggling. He grip, surprisingly firm, held him in place. “No you don’t. You’re not going anywhere.”



He could hear it in her voice, her amusement, laughing at him helpless as a child. This was not the way it should be. He was stronger, he could do what all the other Sun Villagers could not. He should be protecting her.



He lay with his eyes closed until he heard her footsteps on the stairs. He rose quickly, ignoring the sinking in his stomach as the hut swam about him. He gathered his things as quietly as he could and headed toward his cave home. He would recuperate there, away from the scorn and misplaced intentions of the Sun Villagers.



He was Rayek, hunter and magic user. Not weak and helpless like the rest of them. And no one would ever see him that way. Never again.

jeb

I would like to ask for some advice on my art. Usually, when I am working on something, my husband will come take a look and say something like "Can you draw her naked?" or "You need to make her boobs bigger." I had just been writing this off as him being testosterone crazed. But yesterday, as I was cruising the forum, he asked to see my stuff, and he told me that all my women look flat-chested. He says the women look the same as Pike!



They look fine to me, but I wanted to ask the opinion of others who look at my drawings (all 3 of you). Is this a glaringly obvious problem that I have just never noticed? Is it something I should work on improving?



I'd appreciate some feedback. :cry:

bukittyan

I think they look fine. I think the problem is your women are wearing clothes that don't accentuate cleavage, so it makes them look flatter (look at how Wendy drew Moonshade in that jacket; normally she's busty, but she looks flatter in that outfit). I wouldn't worry about it, unless you really want to start drawing melon-sized boobs.

stargazer

I think your boobs are fine (I mean the ones you draw...never having seen your boobs, although I'm sure they're fine too Grin ) and I agree with Bukittyan - it's just the clothing doesn't accentuate cleavage.

stargazer

That story's great! You captured Rayek so very well there.

Embala

You know I fully agree with Stargazer about [b:4519be6e50]Solitude[/b:4519be6e50]. :clap:

As far as your[size=7:4519be6e50] chars [/size:4519be6e50]boobs are concerned --- looking through your thread again --- nothing wrong with them. Your women are of the slender kind in general ... and often the clothes are more covering than revealing - but they are definitely female!

I remember the happy times of early Elfquest with different female body types - loved curvy Leeatah as well as lanky Dewshine or chubby Nightfall ... kind of shock as they all could change clothes in later issues. Variety is part of the beauty! Look at Brightfeather and Riversong ...

Give one big boobs if you feel like it and another sleek slenderness. Guess they will speak to you ...

jeb

Thanks for all your comments. Glad to know I'm not losing my mind. I keep telling him I'm not drawing like gravity-defying superhero women. I'm with you Embala, I always loved EQ because it showed beautiful women of all shapes. I will just keep going with what looks good to me.



Thanks again, y'all! Smile



Also, thanks for the good words about this month's fiction. This one was hard to write, just couldn't get into it, and I'm always afraid that will show up in the writing, but the practice is important.

Sofia

Wonderful artworks as well as fics! And I agree with the comments above - all boobs in this thread are a-ok.

jeb

On his temporary forum Tymber suggested an "actiony" picture of Vaya. This is one of the ideas I had. Also trying to make it a little more obviously female for my husband's benefit, but not sure I have the skills for full nudity yet.



Embala

She is pretty - and revealing just enough Wink Leaving a bit for the imagination is of more interest than plain nudity, I'd say.

[size=9:fa75e8ea41]minor nitpitting: her left foot a a bit too small - wouldn't balance her body, I bet. [/size:fa75e8ea41]

bukittyan

Awesome job. I like how the coat is moving.

jeb

My hair has finally gotten long enough to put up and when my husband came home yesterday and I had it pinned up he said it "looked Asian." That inspired this little sketch: (for some reason I can never get my pictures centered on the page right and always end up cutting them off)



I want to do something like a Japanese watercolor, but I need to figure out the subject first.

Embala

Interesting start, jeb!

Seems like someone has annoyed her ... Why I'm having Winnowill in mind all the time - she don't really looks like her :?

Do you know [url=http://elfquest.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5770&start=0]Shaman's Shogun AU[/url]?
Maybe you'll be inspired to do more elves "asien style".

hhmmm - [size=9:48bea5ef3d]I tend to send each artist who has drawn some asian char to this topic nowadays ... [/size:48bea5ef3d]

jeb

Yeah, I noticed that she does have a kind of irritated look, I'll have to try to fix that if I work on it anymore. It also kind of seems to be a pitfall that Winnowill is such a strong character that any figure with long dark hair will bring her to mind. I was consciously trying to make it NOT resemble Winnowill. Again, something else to work on.

Embala

As I said - the face doesn't look like Winnowill's at all ... but ... mayby it's the disfavoring look in her eyes, the angry brows ...

bukittyan

Cool start! I like how you did her hair; it looks like it has both weight and volume. :D

jeb

Icemoon

she is wonderfull !!!!
she looks very determinate !!

joselle

Nice!

And thank you, thank you, for not over-using the soft-edged brush for coloring...I HATE when people do that!

jeb

Quote:
"joselle
Nice!



And thank you, thank you, for not over-using the soft-edged brush for coloring...I HATE when people do that!




I'm not sure what you mean. Could you give an explanation/example?

(For future reference.)

Embala

Just scetched she was beautiful - the color brings her even more th life!

bukittyan

Beautiful coloring job, jeb!

manga

Jeb, "Solitude" was just awesome! Very evocative and very Rayek. May I put a copy of it up on RASH?

jeb

Thanks Everyone!

Sure you may, Manga. Glad that you liked it.

Embala

[quote:b3ff70e595="jeb"]I had already decided how I was going to color her, and did think that she might be a good fit for Joybringer when I read her description. The drawing does seem to have a certain gravitas that fits well with Joybringer.[/quote:b3ff70e595]

Surprised So you decided her being Joybringer before coloring! Then you did a fine job - [i:b3ff70e595]Joybringer![/i:b3ff70e595] was my first thought seeing her :D

jeb

This was inspired by the physical description of Tymber's character Moonsong.



jeb

I wasn't too happy with this picture and wasn't going to work on it anymore, but if it gets that response I might rethink coloring it.

Embala

Moonsong looks great!

jeb

Here is Tymber's character Daymist: (I still gotta figure out how to do backgrounds better.)







After cropping it to show her face better, I decided I liked the uncropped version too: (kind of a Pygmalion thing going on.)



Embala

Great! Very serene looking one ... tho her eyes are "blind-white" she's looking too determined to look blind.
Like her hair-do and the little details on the poncho.

Icemoon

I lmike her !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

bukittyan

Beautiful! I love the braid in her hair and the outfit you've designed for her. Her eyes are remarkable too, especially since they're just as white as her hair. I like how you've given the background a lot of texture. It looks just like acrylic paint. :D

joyleaf1

:D very lovely art,I like how her feet(I am assuming) are in snow! :D

jeb

Thanks everyone! :D



Bukittyan - Since I'm so terrible with backgrounds, I just used a brush I have called "Impressionist painting" set really big and just broad swipes. I wish I'd done that first as you can see how I had to go in around her to fill it in and it doesn't look as good close to her body.



Joyleaf - Actually, I just got lazy and didn't finish her feet :oops: . Although I did think about making a snowy background as it would fit in her story, but I really wanted a dark background to contrast her coloring.

krwordgazer

I love that you're drawing Tymber's characters, Jeb! Thanks for putting faces on them, and such lovely ones! :D

jeb

Quote:
"Tymber


And to me the background reminded me of the cave (that they're currently in) and not so much of Jeb's confession of not knowing how to do a background! So I thought the background was perfect! Very cave like texture! Which is where they all are currently in the story!




Which is what I was going for, so success! I think of it as an illustration of her glaring at Shadow.



Quote:
"Tymber


Jeb rocks my socks! Smile




:D

Gloomberry

Jeb! I just read your remake of "Repercussions", and I must say, I'm impressed!
I'm not usually a fan of Rayek/Leetah, but that was remarkable. I'm sorry I hadn't read it sooner, but I'm always afraid that if someone re-does my stories they'll screw them up and I'll never see them the same way.
I shouldn't have worried! Bravo!

jeb

:oops: Thanks! :D

jeb

March's Grab-bag:



COLLIDE



Bright-metal (steel)

A secret

Doing the impossible

A new life of some kind



In the early years of the High Ones coming, the children of Timmorn were divided in two. There were those in whom the elf-blood was the strongest, those who would become the Wolfriders.



Then there were the others, the hunt, those who were more wolf than elf. These were tightly bound to the world of two moons, born with the strength and instincts of predators. They looked down on what they saw as the weakness of the first comers and when Timmorn chose Rahnee to lead after him, the hunt left. No more is told of them.



But the world is a strange place, both larger and smaller at times than we believe, and it is possible that there are stories of meetings between the two tribes in times long forgotten. This is one such story of paths crossed and lives changed.

_____________________________________________________________



Wolf and elf did not always rest easily together in the mind. Timmorn was the first to be subject to the effects, pulled sometimes to the here and now of animal thought, others to the far-reaching expanse of the starry heavens. His descendants were, to varying degrees, better off than he was. Or worse.



He was an outcast from his tribe. Though proud of their wolfishness, there was such a thing as being too much of an animal, and he was. For the pack to function there had to be some order, a hierarchy enforced. Those who could not accept the order of the pack were forced out. So he hunted alone.

_____________________________________________________________



*Wait for me!* Twinstar hopped along the forest path, hurriedly pulling on her boot while trying to catch up with her friend and lovemate, Dusk.



The two were going hunting together, the way they had done everything for as long as anyone could remember. In a world where children were few and far between, they shared a special bond of being born near the same time. But what they had was something more than being age-mates.



At first glance, it was their differences that were most striking. She was fair, silver hair and sparkling eyes, a beam of moonlight dancing in the forest, caught in elfin form. Her thoughts were like the moon, too, high up in the sky, shining and shimmering, beyond some of the tribe’s reach. He was brown, the rich, deep brown of the soil that nourished the forest. His eyes black as midnight. He was patient, gentle, and caring, a true brother to all creatures.



But despite their differences, they seemed to be born of one mind. Talking, even sending, was sometimes unnecessary. Yet they could talk for hours, or sit silently, complete in each other’s presence. He tethered her to the world, she freed him of it.



Playmates had slipped easily to lovemates, and would soon be lifemates in the fullness of time. All their tribe-mates assumed Recognition would not be a question of if, but when.



Her foot firmly in her boot now, Twinstar moved quickly and silently through the forest, her silver hair shining in the moonlight like a streak of skyfire. Her eyes glittered in the dark like the celestial bodies that gave her her name.



She was running so hard to catch up that she almost ran right into Dusk. Her complement, his dark eyes and hair were a part of the forest shadows. He gave her a teasing scowl, then broke into an easy smile.



Better organized now, they headed deeper into the forest.

_____________________________________________________________



*I hope we find something soon.*



Dusk did not answer, but he shared Twinstar’s anxiety. Prey-pacer had only given them an eight-of-days to hunt before the tribe would be on the move once again. They had already used half that time, and the only game they’d found were a few ravvits, just enough to keep up their strength. If they didn’t find some game soon, they would have to return empty-handed and the tribe would be traveling light indeed, on empty bellies.



He was about to suggest looking elsewhere when Twinstar held up a cautioning hand. They stood motionless, then he heard it, the rustling of leaves in the underbrush, then the stomping that told of some larger game. Three scrawny springers were in the clearing, pulling the bark off of the few still tender saplings. It was not game to be proud of, but it was something.



Dusk readied his spear, while Twinstar notched her arrow. Twinstar’s arrow flew true, hitting the springer just behind the shoulder. Dusk was not as lucky, hitting his in the rump. His dazed target began to stumble away. He burst into the clearing after it.



But they were not the only ones watching this game. Something else shot out of the forest too. Twinstar had the impression of fur and fangs, strength and fury. Snarling, it smacked into Dusk with enough force to lift him off his feet and into the brush.



“Mine!”



Twinstar ran to Dusk, stunned by the bare branches that pierced through his body and the unnatural tilt of his head.



*Dusk?*



There was no answer. He was breathing, but his breath sounded wet and rough.



“Mine!”



Twinstar turned her attention now to the creature. There was no doubt that he was elfin, but he was unlike any elf she had seen before. What she had taken for fur was a mass of shaggy hair and a covering of untanned furs. Her eyes lingered on his odd, three-toed feet before coming to rest on his face. Under his heavy brows his eyes were muddy pits.



Cern.



Twinstar shuddered as her world suddenly lurched.



“Mine.” He stood menacingly over the dead springer. His voice, pure aggression before, now held a hint of confusion.



They remained like this for a while, Twinstar sending desperately to Dusk, trying to think through the shock of what to do, he standing over the kill, watching her.



Finally, she could do nothing more than put her head down on Dusk’s chest and weep. The strange elf crouched down and, producing a rough stone knife, began to eat.

_____________________________________________________________



She was dimly aware of passing time, so was startled to hear a rustling close by and a rough hand yanking her shoulder.



“We go.”



The words seemed to make no sense.



He gripped her upper arm more firmly.



“What? No! I’m not going anywhere with you!” Even as she protested she was acutely aware of the effect of his hand upon her body, of the effects of Recognition already at work.



She tried to pull away, but he tightened his grip, a low growl sounding from deep in his throat. She wasn’t sure how much he understood of what was happening between them, but it was clear he was not letting her get away.



“We go, now!”



She put her arms protectively around Dusk. “We can’t. He can’t be moved, he won’t survive it.”



He stood impassively, his gaze faraway as the futility of her words struck her. Even though she wanted to, there was no way for her to take Dusk with them. He would have to remain here. She knew there was no hope for him, but she couldn’t stand the thought of leaving his body here to slowly starve or freeze.



Reluctantly, she pulled the ancient metal knife from his side. She had always marveled at how smoothly the bright-metal pierced the flesh. Detached, now, she felt the blade slip through the ribs, the quiver as it punctured the heart, beating so weakly now it produced only a weak stream. With sudden, painful awareness of what she’d just done, her hands covered her face, salt tears mingling with warm blood. She did not even see his last breath as she was dragged away.

_____________________________________________________________



They spent the next several days traveling, moving slowly, aimlessly during the nights, resting fitfully during the days. He kept her always in front of him, always in sight. She had hoped that she would be able to sneak off while he slept, but instead she found that neither of them was sleeping much. Once or twice, when his eyes were closed she had tried to move away, but at every noise she made his eyes would snap open and with a growl he would move closer.



Because of his need for constant vigilance there had only been a few half-hearted attempts at hunting. Not that it mattered, neither had much of an appetite.



Twinstar knew the elf felt the effects of Recognition as strongly as she did, but so far he hadn’t come any closer to her or touched her anymore than needed to make it clear she couldn’t leave. She had never heard of anyone denying Recognition before. Although she wanted to leave, she was frightened to find out what it would mean if she did.



Finally, she could stand it no longer.



She could see his eyes burning beyond the fire. Unblinking, he watched her every movement, as if not able to make up his mind about something. She made up hers. He had taken Dusk’s knife and her bow had been left behind. She had nothing to fight with, but she could see no other way.



She stood. He rose with her. They faced each other over the embers of the dying fire, then she bolted toward the forest. He was too quick. He caught her and pulled her back to the fire.



“Let me go!” He did. Just as every other time he had touched her he quickly dropped his arms as if unable to deal with the emotions such touches created. Could it be he really didn’t know? Twinstar cackled, a nervous outpouring of the ridiculousness of the situation. “You only have two choices. Mate with me, or kill me. I don’t care. Just get it over with.”



He made no response. She turned away from the fire and suddenly he was upon her. She fell head first to the ground, wincing as her jaw clamped down on dirt and pine-needles. Her thin leathers ripped as he pulled them away. Pinned, she could not move and struggled to gasp for air, sickened by his touch and her own body’s response to it. She had only one comfort, at least she wouldn’t have to see his face.

_____________________________________________________________



*Twinstar!*



The sending was very faint, but it roused her. The tribe had not moved on, they were out looking for her. She did not answer, but moving as quietly as possible, looked over at where he was. He was crouched a few feet away, not looking at her, but not alerted to anything. He must not have sensed the sending.



If she answered now, they would find both of them. Now that Recognition was satisfied, she had no desire to ever see him again. She knew him, knew what drove him away from the others. Knew the possessiveness he felt, something she and her tribe mates could never understand. He would never fit in with the rest of the tribe.



Where did she fit in now? How could she go back and face the others with what she had done?



*Dusk!*



It was Joygleam, Dusk’s mother. Twinstar’s heart jumped to her throat. They didn’t know that Dusk was dead! Before she knew what she was doing Twinstar had leapt forward and was confused as the ground suddenly came up at her. He had her around the legs. She clawed at the ground, pulling herself forward as he pulled her back.



Her hands found a branch and held on as tightly as she could, the bark breaking away under her fingernails. He pulled harder and she flew backward as the branch cracked.



*Twinstar!*



The sending was getting fainter. They were moving away!



She kicked at him, and managed to get herself turned around to face him. She stopped struggling. She stayed still, pinned under his weight. For a minute she worried, would the taste of one joining bring a hunger for more? She felt his breath coming hard and fast against her stomach, but gradually it began to slow. Sure that he had stopped her, he began to rise. In one movement she brought the branch up against his temple and rolled over to her feet, and was soon running through the forest, sending to her tribe mates.

_____________________________________________________________



Joygleam stared at where Twinstar had burst through the foliage, as if another figure might appear by magic.



“I’m sorry. The fang-tooth was just too much for us. If it wasn’t for Dusk I never would have gotten away.” Twinstar’s voice broke as her tears started flowing freely. Joygleam came over and embraced the younger elf. Twinstar nuzzled into the older elf’s neck, grateful that no one could see her face, her voice barely a whisper. “We Recognized. I carry Dusk’s child.”

jeb

This is an illustration for one of [url=http://www.elfquest.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=399713#399713]Tymber's Stonehowl Holt[/url] stories. It is Skyshade and Warsong and Wardance, the twins she recognized:



Icemoon

sweeeeeeeeeeeeet picture !
:love:

bukittyan

I just read your March Grab-bag story, and boy was that depressing! I almost cried when Twinstar had to kill Dusk. Unhappy I love how descriptive you were about Dusk and Twinstar's names, and the concept of those with more wolf blood than elf blood.

And Skyshade and the twins are lovely! I like how her hands are tenderly caressing both the twins. :D

jeb

Quote:
Tymber



Jeb. You so effin rock.



Aw, shucks. :oops: 'twernt nuthin.

Quote:
bukittyan



I just read your March Grab-bag story, and boy was that depressing! I almost cried when Twinstar had to kill Dusk.



Uh, thanks? I knew it would depress people, but you felt something, so I did my job.

bukittyan

[quote:785b8e1299]Uh, thanks? I knew it would depress people, but you felt something, so I did my job.[/quote:785b8e1299]

It was very much a compliment. :) I'm not as good with words as some people, but I wanted to let you know that you did your job well. :D

willderbeast

Everything here looks so delightful! I'm going to take my time and enjoy it all.

jeb

Just adding the awesome dolls that Nightsea has made for my character Brightfeather:

PCoquelin

Quote:
willderbeast

Everything here looks so delightful! I'm going to take my time and enjoy it all.


Now just figure more than five years of interesting posts...
  ...and you'll realize just how interesting digging in the forums may be !

You're very welcome !

Nightsea

Based on Jeb's drawing of Daymist, I've made Tymber
a menewsha doll of her (as thanks for the praise):


There are a few more of Brightfeather that I made for you, Jeb
now hosted on kat's site (scroll when you get there):
http://kat.of-the-night.com/Characters/chara.html

:D
--Nightsea

jeb

Cool! I thought there were but assumed they were eaten in the hack. Thanks!

jeb

May Grab-bag

Elements:
Permission
Eyes meet eyes
A tragedy
A coin
A bug
A flame


REBOUND

Prey-pacer had kept them traveling long and far, but they had finally been rewarded. The hunting was good here. Everyone had eaten tonight.

Stillstep looked around at her blood- and mud-covered companions. Someone had started a fire and now they huddled around its flame, well-fed and weary.

Well, not everyone. Stillstep noted the slim figure sitting a distance from the others. Twinstar, barely recognized and already she had lost her lifemate.

Stillstep was concerned for the young elf. As a life-bearer, Twinstar was offered first pick and the choicest bits from every kill, yet it seemed everyday her skin clung a little more tightly to her bones.

As tribe elder and hunt leader, Stillstep felt responsibility for the whole tribe, but she had watched over Twinstar especially since her father’s death several years ago. Sharpeye had been her second in the hunt, she thought his death would crush the dreamy cub, but Twinstar had proven tougher than Stillstep had imagined. Stillstep had trouble believing Dusk’s death had affected her so much.

Stillstep stopped in front of the youth and held out her offering of a bit of fresh liver. “The hunt was good tonight. Will you eat?”

Twinstar took the meat hesitantly, then took a small bite, chewing slowly.

“May I sit?”

Twinstar continued to stare at the meat she held loosely, as if she’d rather it wasn’t there, but nodded.

“Not agreeing with you?”

Twinstar shook her head.

“Sometimes it’s that way when you’re first with cub. With Latefrost I couldn’t even hunt, the smell of blood turned my stomach so.”

Again, Twinstar just nodded weakly. Stillstep could see her eyes moisten. Twinstar struggled to swallow the meat, her throat suddenly too small. Stillstep gently touched her shoulder. “And sometimes it’s something else.”

Twinstar’s eyes, overflowing with tears, met Stillstep’s and she collapsed into her arms. “It’s terrible!”

Stillstep held Twinstar as she shook with sobs. Then the images came. The strange elf. Dusk’s death. The Recognition. Emotions held in check through a moons’ turn came gushing forth. Finally, there was nothing more. Twinstar pulled away, her head in her hands.

“How can you stand to look at me? The rest of the tribe, they won’t want me around, once they learn what I’ve done.”

“The rest of the tribe wasn’t there. It is not for them to judge what you had to do.” Stillstep’s voice was forceful. “You did what you had to do to survive. What matters now is whether you make that mean something. I can’t believe you fought so hard then, just to let yourself waste away now. It’s not what Dusk would’ve wanted. And it’s not what you want, or you wouldn’t be here!”

Twinstar turned her head, the firelight dancing in her tears.

“What if…” Her voice lowered. “What if I don’t…can’t love this child?”

“Then the tribe will raise it. What happened was a tragedy, but this…” She held her hand to Twinstar’s belly. “This new life is a wonder.”

“Not all Recognitions are those sought after.” Stillstep’s eyes took on a faraway, knowing look. “High Ones know why this one did. But we must accept cubs as we are given them, and do what we can.”

Twinstar nodded gently, her heart already easing from the unburdening. “But what about Joygleam? How can I tell her the truth?”

Stillstep hugged Twinstar. “I’ll tell her. Don’t worry, she’ll understand.”
_____________________________________________________________

Joygleam settled in beside Twinstar.

“I understand why you did what you did.”

Twinstar would not meet the elder elf’s eyes, instead staring intently at a small beetle as it made its way over the rocky ground. She felt her hand being lifted gently and something flat and round pressed into her palm. She glanced at Joygleam, then inspected the item in her hand. It was shiny, like Dusk’s blade. Irregular markings ran along the edge and in the center what looked like a flower except it was flat. Yet, when she turned it the light moved around. She rubbed it, feeling the bumps and ridges. It still held Joygleam’s warmth.

“What is it?”

“It’s called a coin. My mother was pure elf, a daughter of first-comers. This is one of the few things they had to give her. For them, it was special.” Joygleam shrugged. “I always thought I would give it to Dusk someday. Or his child.”

Twinstar winced. “But-“

Joygleam silenced her. “I know this is not Dusk’s child, but I know what was in his heart. You were a part of him. Dusk will live on in your child, for he is a part of you.”

Twinstar thought of Dusk, and found that for the first time since his death, she felt something besides pain. It was a beginning. Her heart was opening again to love.

jeb

April EQ Grab-bag

Elements:
A joke, prank or trick
A decision
A change in someone’s life
Explosion
A treewee
Loafing around

CONSEQUENCES

“Who should we play the trick on?”

Cutter considered a moment. “Redmark.”

“Redmark.” It took a while, but finally Nightfall was able to conjure an image of the quiet red-headed elf. “Why him?”

“I dunno. I figure he won’t get too angry.”

Nightfall shrugged. Made sense.

It was one of those long days of summer, where there was nothing but time. Too much time. A day when everything that could be done, had been. And it still wasn’t sunset. A day when even young lovemates had run out of ways to occupy themselves. And that’s when they hatched the idea of a trick.

“So what do we do?”

Cutter was quiet, thinking. Finally his mouth spread into a mischievous smile. “We do what Bearclaw would do. We watch, and we wait. And when the time is right, we strike!”
_________________________________________________________________

They spent the next several days watching the tracker. If Nightfall had ever had a more boring time, she couldn’t remember when.

“Plants!” She fumed to Cutter. “He sits around looking at plants!”

Cutter’s eyes gleamed. “Yes, and that’s how we are going to get him!”

They had noticed that he always came back to the same clearing in the forest. There was an unusual vine there, and although the young elves didn’t know what the attraction was at first, they soon noticed that this particular vine would be blooming soon. They had the bait, so they set their trap.

Now Cutter was waiting in a tree above the clearing, and Nightfall was following Redmark, ready to alert Cutter when to spring into action. Redmark was walking toward the clearing, just as they were expecting. Nightfall was glad that her time studying this “prey” was almost over.

Suddenly, he froze. He cocked his head, slowly lifting his spear. He turned and disappeared into the forest.

*Uh, Cutter?*

*What?*

*He’s going somewhere else.*

*What!*

Nightfall empathized with her lovemate’s frustration. It hadn’t been easy to get all that stuff up the tree and balanced. It was not something either wanted to do again.

Nightfall slipped through the trees, trying to catch sight of Redmark again. How could someone with such bright hair disappear so quickly? She was starting to get sloppy in her effort to find him when she heard it.

*Nightfall?* Cutter’s send filled her mind.

*Quiet!* She heard it again. The sound of breaking branches. Something stomping through the undergrowth. Then a high-pitched whine.

*Cutter, it’s a wolf! Something’s got it!*

*Puckernuts! I’ll be right there!*

Nightfall moved forward, more carefully now, listening for any more noises that would let her know where the problem was. Silently, she unsheathed her knife. A branch snapped behind her and she whirled.

Cutter stood with his hands in front of him. *Easy.*

They both stood listening. The whine came again.

*This way!*

Nightfall followed her tribemate. The sound was louder now, right in front of them. They burst from the dark shadows into a sunny clearing full of soft fuzzy balls. Their eyes were still adjusting to the sunlight so they never saw the tree root coming out of the ground right across their path. Cutter stumbled first, tripping Nightfall who tumbled through the strange garden.

The fuzzy balls exploded as they touched them, filling the air with pollen. Cutter and Nightfall coughed and rubbed their eyes. Suddenly, a treewee dropped from above, landing in Nightfall’s hair. She shrieked and jumped, causing it to pull tightly as it hung on for dear life. She hopped around the clearing, each stumble releasing more golden pollen. Cutter trailed after, swiping at the treewee, each grab making the animal fasten its grip harder.

Finally Nightfall just stopped and let out a scream. The treewee took advantage of the lack of movement to scamper up the nearest tree and out of sight.
____________________________________________________________

They were a funny sight indeed, standing in front of the Father Tree, covered in yellow powder, eyes red and itching. Bearclaw could hardly contain himself.

“What happened to you?”

“Nothing.” Cutter mumbled.

“Well, then go clean up. You’re getting ‘nothing’ everywhere.”

Cutter stalked off toward the stream and Nightfall hurried after, Bearclaw’s laughter ringing through the forest behind them.

Cutter, kicking stones and mumbling to himself, didn’t notice the figure sitting casually against the tree, but Nightfall did. She slowed and approached him.

“You set that up, didn’t you?”

He smiled, amused by her anger. “You were going to play a trick on me.” It was a statement, not a question. Spoken without anger or accusation, just a simple statement of fact.

“No! I mean…well…” She lowered her eyes guiltily.

He touched her arm. “It’s all right.”

She lifted her eyes to his, and suddenly the world dropped away. She was aware only of him. The caring in his eyes, the warm pressure of his hand. The bend of his knee, inches from her hand. She could just reach out and…

She backed away, the heat rising to her face. “I’m sorry.” She stammered. “We never should have-“

“It’s all right.” He repeated. He smiled, his face serene. How could he not notice her heart pounding? Not feel something in return?

“Go wash up.”

Nightfall nodded weakly, not trusting her own voice.
_____________________________________________________________________

She found Cutter resting on the river bank, drying in the gentle breeze. He looked so young to her somehow. She found herself reluctant to undress in front of him.

“What took you so long?”

“I was…apologizing to Redmark.”

Cutter grunted. “Hunh. He should be apologizing to us.”

Nightfall just nodded and began to slowly untie her shirt knot.

Cutter picked up his breeches, then shot her a sidelong glance. “So…” He twisted the lacings between his hands. “Do you want me to wait for you?”

“No.” The word flew out of her. He looked at her quizzically. “I just…I just want to be alone right now.”

“All right.” He sighed.

She stared at the water as he dressed. Then, instead of walking away, she felt him standing beside her. A gentle finger under her chin tilted her face to his. “I’m sorry.”

She smiled and rested her hand on his. “I know. Me, too.”

She waited until he left before easing herself into the cool water. She floated, the tree branches above waved like fingers reaching for the sky.

Somehow, she knew, things were about to change.

joselle

Quote:
jeb

This is an illustration for one of Tymber's Stonehowl Holt stories. It is Skyshade and Warsong and Wardance, the twins she recognized:




She recognized twins?!

Lucky bugger. :love:

jeb

I saw a doll base on the dollz thread that I liked and thought I would give it a try. Now I'm kind of building a character around the results.



This is Quicksilver. She is the daughter of Treestump and Clearbrook (I want it to be outside of Recognition for some reason.) Her build and hair is similar to Dewshine but her hair is silver. She is an archer and is very quiet like Strongbow, usually communicating through sending, but when she's relaxed and comfortable she's quite a bit like Kahvi, kind of gruff and irreverent but funny.







And contributions by the masters, Nightsea:







and Tynami:



Embala

Like the variety of your dollz. Quicksilver's character describtion is very interesting - would be nice to get a real story sometime ...

bukittyan

Love the dolls. And ditto Embala on the story. :D

WiseShaman

Awesome story jeb!

I liked how Nightfall was suddenly pulled in by Redlance's gentleness...and he still got the better of both!

jeb

Embala and bukittyan: A story, huh? I'll have to see what I can do. :wink: Now, where are those dreamberries...

WiseShaman: Makes me happy to hear some praise from such a master storyteller. Makes me happy just to get a comment about this story. :roll: I was starting to think it just must really suck. Thanks!

WiseShaman

[quote:9914a92b37]WiseShaman: Makes me happy to hear some praise from such a master storyteller. Makes me happy just to get a comment about this story. I was starting to think it just must really suck. Thanks![/quote:9914a92b37]

Nah, no master storyteller here! Just a guy with the gift to write, like you.

And the story's awasome, as is the others in here. You have great grasp of writing canon EQ. Me, I have to tweak and twist anything so I can call it my own.

Keep up the good work, can't wait to see more!

Embala

You remember my comment for [b:56b377b9e9]Collide[/b:56b377b9e9] ...
[quote:56b377b9e9="Embala"]The story is great, Jeb! I love the setting in early Wolfrider times ... love the outertribe recognition of an almost-wolf ...
Okay - don't "love" the bitter decisions and sufferings Twinstar is going through, but everything is described plausible and neccessary. And well written :D

Almost everything ...! The final lie - understandable, born of confusion, desperation and shame, but ... too human. Don't think it can work on EQ elves - remember: [i:56b377b9e9]There is no lie in sending![/i:56b377b9e9] This lie- wouldn't this mean Twinstar can never send again to her tribemates? At least not about Dusk - the Recognition, the longtooth, her escape, nor about her child ... especially not to the "grandparents" :roll: I'm afraid this lie would cause more trouble than the truth.[/quote:56b377b9e9]...with this awesome sequel [b:56b377b9e9]Rebound[/b:56b377b9e9] you can delete the [i:56b377b9e9]"Almost ..."[/i:56b377b9e9] Wink I love everything in it - and it wouldn't be possible this way without this desperate, imprudent lie. Twinstar's compunktion and doubts - Stillstep's emphatic intervention - Joygleam's loving reaction - just perfect! I would like to hear more about them - and the cub :D

The picture of Skyshade and the twins is wonderful - she's so tender ... and the male still seem doubtful about this new situation.

[b:56b377b9e9]Consequences[/b:56b377b9e9] is absolutely awesome - it made me smile ... made me laugh ... and suddenly - this first look at each other ... touching! Love it!

jeb

Cool! Glad I could get rid of that "almost." :D It was your comments that made me feel like some resolution was necessary. (Although I've never been one to require the Disney ending.) I think my June Grab-bag will be a continuation of the Redmark-Nightfall story, but expect to hear more from Twinstar in the future.

Embala

[quote:39cfba23ca]Cool! Glad I could get rid of that "almost." :D [/quote:39cfba23ca]
Grin Hope you could sleep well with this burden Wink

[quote:39cfba23ca]It was your comments that made me feel like some resolution was necessary. (Although I've never been one to require the Disney ending.)[/quote:39cfba23ca]
In this case I'm glad that I decided to express my ambivalent feelings about this story. The resolution is definitely a win - [size=9:39cfba23ca]even with a less happy ending it would have been[/size:39cfba23ca].

[quote:39cfba23ca]I think my June Grab-bag will be a continuation of the Redmark-Nightfall story, but expect to hear more from Twinstar in the future.[/quote:39cfba23ca]
Looking forward to both :D

jeb

I finally got around to finishing this Vaya. It turned out to mainly be a chance to experiment with my painting software. The software has some weird bugs, it kept doing something weird with her lips that I couldn't fix. But here it is:







While experimenting, I accidentally did this and kind of liked it too:







And in case it's not painfully obvious, I'm still learning how to draw and especially how to draw with a computer, so any advice, really any feedback of any kind, is appreciated.

Embala

Both backgrounds work well ... I see her dancing in front of the Palace. Like the light on her hair.

bukittyan

I love that you're getting bolder with your shading. :D Vaya looks like she's got some dimension now. Her sleeves don't look shaded though. Because you've got such bold shading on her body and cloak, you might want to get her sleeves as well.

What painting software are you using?

jeb

Quote:
"bukittyan
I love that you're getting bolder with your shading. :D Vaya looks like she's got some dimension now. Her sleeves don't look shaded though. Because you've got such bold shading on her body and cloak, you might want to get her sleeves as well.




Yeah, I thought the same thing too, guess I forgot to go back and fix that.



Quote:
What painting software are you using?




I've been using the Corel Painter Essentials 4.0 that came with the Bamboo Fun tablet. Vaya is my first attempt at using the simulated acrylics.





Hmmm, photobucket removed one of the images, which is funny since they were both exactly the same! :roll: So glad we have Big Brother protecting us. (High Ones forbid we get a glimpse of nipplage.)

Rjjspesh

[quote:4670574a8a="jeb"]This is an illustration for one of [url=http://www.elfquest.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=399713#399713]Tymber's Stonehowl Holt[/url] stories. It is Skyshade and Warsong and Wardance, the twins she recognized:

[img:4670574a8a]http://i370.photobucket.com/albums/oo147/jepaul42/skyshade4trimmed.jpg[/img:4670574a8a][/quote:4670574a8a]

She recognised [b:4670574a8a]twins[/b:4670574a8a]?? Ur allowed to do that?!

You go, girl XD

jeb

Illustration for Tymber's [url=http://www.elfquest.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=409165#409165]June Grab-bag[/url]

Riverfall shows Windfetcher and Echo the preserver:

jeb

Another illustration for Tymber's [url=http://www.elfquest.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=409165#409165]June Grab-bag[/url]

Trolls invade the elves' cave, stabbing Stillbreeze, making her drop her baby, whom Windfetcher catches:

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