365 CREATIVE WRITING PROMPTS – DAY 7 – The Climber (PART 2)

Just because I promised I would put Part 2 up this week, I thought I should finish it off and post it up. This is NOT the completed story, by the way, but we are almost there. Once again, this is unedited and a little rushed, but please feel free to let me know what you think.

Part One Can be found here

Here you go!

The Climber (PART 2)

It is true to say that Alphonse didn’t really know what his next move would be. Having dismissed himself from the pigeon council and taking flight through the city’s night sky, he found himself at a loss. His goal was clear; he would prove himself to his kin and leave them speechless. ‘Yes,’ he would coo boastfully, ‘pigeon can climb. There is no longer the need for flight.’ Centuries later the pigeon-kin would be living alongside the squirrel-kin as equals in every measure. Or well they would if squirrel-kin could fly. And really fly, as opposed to that ‘jump from a great height and drift’ sort of thing some of their kind can do. So with that in mind Alphonse supposed the two kin would never be equals in every measure. It would definitely be favoured heavily towards the pigeon-kin. Nevertheless, his descendants would recall Father Alphonse The Tree Climber, first of his kind, breaker of conventions, intrepid revolutionary of all pigeon-kin.

In his daydream he narrowly avoided a lamppost and swerved just in time, crash landing into a bush. Maybe his ambitions were a little fanciful to consider quite yet.

The goal was set, and now he had to find a way of achieving it. Several thoughts passed through his pigeon-head, but the one that made the most sense was to approach the squirrel-kin. To observe their ways and seek their wisdom. To become squirrel-kin, one must think as squirrel-kin, act as squirrel-kin, completely immerse yourself to the experience of squirrel-kin. And that started, as everyone knew, in the Park.

The night was rough. It turns out that squirrels were not the most nocturnal of creatures, and Alphonse wanted to make a good impression and not barge into their nests (do squirrel-kin even have nests, Alphonse considered. If not, then  this may be a little more difficult than he had planned) whilst they slept. As such he found a branch on a tree close to the trunk, propped himself in as he didn’t have the time to prepare a nest of his own, and slept poorly.

The following morning he perched on the park bench and watched the bin, patiently waiting for a squirrel to delve in. He watched and waited, but when non of the little creatures presented themselves, Alphonse decided he would have to learn the hard way. Time was running out, and to his logic the fact that a bin was significantly smaller than a tree meant it would be an easier task.

The bin in question was, for lack of a better word, roofed. It was a solid, cuboid case of metal with one opening on each of the four sides through which the squirrel-kin would weave and dive effortlessly. Recalling the display from the day before, Alphonse decided that the best way forward was just to give it a go.

Cautiously he flew over to the bin and landed on the hood, self conscious and sheepish as he landed, knowing full well that he was a pigeon acting out of character. When on the hood of the bin, he looked about himself, taking in the surroundings before closing his eyes to meditate on the movement he had seen the day before. From within his inner-eyes he visualised the squirrels movements. Though it was a blur to recall, and fast enough to seem like a weightless flow, he slowed down the movements and broke them down step by step.

First, the squirrel went from an upright position to a low position, body flat against the hood, his head over the edge, his grabbers taking purchase. Ah. There was the first challenge. Grabbers not flappers, as Brother Jeremy had reminded him. Well, it was best to ignore that for now.

Next the squirrel in his mind’s eye flowed forward and under the hood; it’s body following it’s head in a perfect flow. His feet and grabbers clawing as he performed the movement with utmost confidence. Again. Flappers not grabbers. Still, determination made him continue.

The next step was the flow into the bin propper through the opening. The creature had somehow twisted his body around to find footholds on the lip of the opening, and in one fluid movement it’s body had entered the bin. Alphonse opened his eyes. How did it do that? He stepped forward and looked at the bin opening below him. No, no, he told himself, you’re overthinking it, you need to have faith in your movements become the squirrel.

He righted himself again. Closed his eyes. Removed all shred of doubt from his mind. Took a deep breath.

And went for it.

Well… the first time never counts.

For the first four attempts, the pigeon simply ran off the bin top, flapping wildly as he fell to the ground. The next few times he managed to jam his left wing into the opening, but fell straight out again. One time he managed to jam his right wing in, followed by his beak. Still he fell. Humans and other creatures stood around watching this show of deluded determination as a pigeon tried time and again to slide his way into the bin-propper.

Overcome with frustration, Alphonse chose to attempt if from different angles, eventually coming to a new conclusion; it may be that entering the bin from the outside was more difficult than exiting from the inside.

With many attempts at flying into the bin from a distance – several times almost striking passers by, one time flying straight through one opening and out the other, but more times than not he failed by flying straight into the metal casing, almost causing a broken neck and broken wing on several occasions, he finally made it into the bin. Here he discovered quite early that he was wrong. Getting out of the bin proved a lot more difficult that getting in.

After a few hours as a concentrated flapping mess, he had worn himself out. Alphonse lay panting at the bottom of the bin seriously considering his poor fortune (though sometimes people would throw a tasty treat into the bin, so you win some and you lose some), when at long last a squirrel entered and instantly screamed with terror and escaped again.

A moment passed. The squirrel tried his chances again. And again, upon seeing poor Alphonse at the bottom of the bin, let out a screech and bolted.

Another moment passed, but eventually the head of an inquisitive squirrel was sneaking a peek through the opening from above. It disappeared again, but an instant after, the squirrel had made his way through the opening and perched next to Alphonse. It tilted its head as it looked down up at the pigeon, then let out a muttering sound that sounded like an obnoxious person eating nuts with their mouth open. The muttering translated into Alphonse’s mind but in a strange, guttural language that sounded lazy yet harsh at the same time.

Alphonse cooed, ‘Sorry, understanding Squirrel-kin challenge is a fail.’

The Squirrel looked puzzled. He gestured wildly and made the same muttering noises again. And again those noises translated into nonsense in Alphonse’s mind. This was going to be harder than he had expected. The squirrel must have read this from his expression, and planted his palm to his forehead.

Alphonse gestured to the opening with one wrong and cooed slowly. ‘I… would like… to get out. Could… you …. Help me… please?’

The squirrel darted around the pigeon, sizing him up, then shot up to the opening. He looked back, gave a wave as though to say ‘follow me’ then exited the bin.

Alphonse sighed. ‘I would if I could’ he said to no one in particular.

The rodent’s head popped through the opening again. Waved again. So Alphonse tried again. He flapped as much as he could in the confined space, hitting his wings against the bin’s sides as he clumsily raised himself up. He made it to the top of the bin, but could not find an angle by which to pass through the opening. He gave up and came to rest at the bottom of the bin again.

The squirrel had watched all of this with a mix of intrigue and horror plastered to his face. In an instant he was by Alphonse’s side again, sizing him up from every angle and ranting and raving in his guttural language to no one but itself, arms flailing manically as he gestured. Then suddenly he stopped and stared Alphonse in the eye. Through his muttering and careful gesturing, he seemed to suggest Alphonse tried again, then placed a small and on the pigeon’s shoulder and nodded with a smile. Alphonse blinked blankly at the little creature, and in a heartbeat it had made its way out through the opening onto the top of the bin.

After a moment to contemplate his position, Alphonse tried again. He spread out his wings and gave it all he had. He raised himself up to the top of the bin, staring out to freedom, yet unable to grasp it. And then in an instant, the squirrel was flying through the opening and shoulder barged Alphonse square in the beak.

Zak often sat in the park alone after school. It wasn’t that didn’t have friends, more that he likes his personal space, and the park bench was the best place for that. He was the sort of kid who liked hard-hitting German House, a form of music his older brother got him into. Today he put on his over-sized over-ear headphones and put the volume to a little bit under maximum – he didn’t want to ruin his hearing at the age of sixteen.

He rustled about in his school bag and fished out a half eaten ham and cheese sandwich when the squirrel perched on the bin opposite him caught his eye. He smiled at the little creature.

Just as Zak bit into his sandwich, the squirrel made a terribly quick movement. It shot into the bin from one side, and out of the other came… a wildly flailing pigeon.

The mouthful of sandwich fell from Zak’s open mouth.

365 CREATIVE WRITING PROMPTS – DAY 7 – The Climber (PART 1)

This week’s story is going to be split into more than just one part. This is Part One.

The writing prompt was 9. Animals: Choose an animal. Write about it! so I did. It got a bit deep, so sorry for that. Here is the first part, once again I have to stress that this is unedited or refined, so there will be spelling mistakes and it may read clumsily at parts. my apologies for that!

with this in mind, if you have ANY constructive comments on how I could improve or alter this, please let me know in the comments below and I will try to change what I can. I hope to get Part 2 ready for you next week, but for now, enjoy.

The Climber (PART 1)

There is something just simply fun about about squirrels. Even the word ‘squirrel’ is fun to think about. Squirrel. The speed and precision with which the tiny creatures move, the perfect flow of their bodies and tails as they run, then suddenly stop bolt upright as though with complete, paralysing paranoia, and then up a tree as quick as a flash! They are playful and curious –  so curious, always sneaking around and exploring fearlessly.

Alphonse watched the small rodent climb the perimeter of the park bin, then perch in a perfectly balanced pose on the bin cover, staring at some unknown point in the far distance. It twitched it’s nose. Then, with the seamless flow of the wind, it shot under the cover, through the opening and into the bin proper. Alphonse had seen this many times and admired the squirrel’s intrepid nature.

A moment later the creature’s head shot up, looking through the bin opening like a nervous thief checking that the coast is clear before making his escape with the goods. In a heartbeat he was out, his stolen trinket in hand. Alphonse watched from his position on the park bench, amused by the perfect wave of the creature’s body, like a gentle stream moving in natural, pleasant arcs. It approached a tree, checked his surroundings, and with the inert grace born only of squirrel-kin, scaled the tree to a branch high up, where he sat and nibbled at his bin-found treasure. Alphonse pecked at some bread.

Out of all of the fascinating abilities of squirrel-kin, the ease in which they climbed trees was, to Alphonse, the most beautiful skill of all. Oh how he would daydream about being able to climb in such a way. To be able to reach the heights of those tree branches with such effortless finesse.

A slight tear came to his eye. He pecked at his bread. Alphonse would never be able to do such a thing. Alphonse would never be like the squirrel. Alphonse was a pigeon.

A human couple walked past the bench upon which Alphonse was perched. Another pigeon came to land on the bench’s backrest shortly after, but missed and fell next to Alphonse, with the scrap of bread in between them. He recognised the newcomer as Brother Jeremy, a close relation to Alphonse, but highly respected in the upper tiers of the pigeon council.  He cocked his head to the right and let out a soft coo, which translated in Alphonse’ inner ear into the rich, semi-telepathic speech of his breed.

‘Brother Alphonse. I demand you share me the bread acquired.’ he spoke He gave Alphonse a look, then  followed his gaze to the squirrel high in the tree, then back to Alphonse. ‘Why you must torture self with deep unending not happy?’

Alphonse lowered his head in shame, and uncontrollably flapped one wing in a frantic effort of wipe away the tear that had emerged. He hit himself in the head several times and unintentionally stroked Brother Jeremy with his wing-tips during the struggle.

Alphonse cooed. ‘Brother Jeremy. Berate me not, but spill sorrow. My heart longs for climbing. Yonder branch my soul desires.’

‘Stupid Brother Alphonse! Desire not the climb, instead desire most important; inclusion into upper echelon of pigeon-kin!’ The two had spoken around the subject on many occasions, and what Brother Jeremy had said was true. Alphonse’s interest in squirrel-kin had become more of a distraction of late. He had become a recluse from his own kin, his fascination transforming day by day into something more. Into an obsession. Or at least that is what it looked like from the communities perspective. But the truth of the matter was quite different. It was not an obsession, it was not a mental issue of discovering more, it was about his personality, his need. And that broke Alphonse’s heart. ‘If branch is what you require, you have power to achieve this. Fly, my brother, it is what do we do.’

‘Brother Jeremy.’ Alphonse replied, ‘it is not destination that hold importance of soul, but journey. It is not branch accessible by wing that happy-fills me, but though of climb. Be one with tree, not with air. Transport brings many different meaning to life. Climb is my love.’

Brother Jeremy considered this, he let out a long breath and twisted his head to the left, a sign of concern. After a while he cooed again, and the authoritative voice spoke in Alphonse’s mind. ‘Brother Alphonse. Take consideration. To climb is not possible. Consider the squirrel. It has grabbers.’ he stretched out his wings, wobbling from side to side slightly. ‘Their kin have grabbers. Pigeon kin have flappers. To have hearts want is physiologically an impossible.’ Alphonse waddled as he stretched out his wings in a display of understanding. They inadvertently swiped each other across the beak and nape of neck as they rested their wings back by their sides.

‘Kind Brother Jeremy, your speak is true, but stabs at my heart also. For I know my part as my pigeon-body denotes, yet in my soul I wish to climb’

‘Poor, confused Brother Alphonse. Do not mourn an impossible dream, but be thankful of the gifts you have. For certain, it is to be pleased for those whom climb, but your gift is something more beautiful. Work to strength and achieve best things. Do not wish you were what you are not, but grasp what you are. You to be the best you you can be. First step of this is accepting who you are.’

Alphonse thought on these words. There must be a reason; something deep inside, that has given him the desire to climb. Maybe it was more than a physical thing, something deeper. Maybe to be the first pigeon to climb a tree was who he was. Maybe that was his goal. Face down, avoiding eye contact with his brother, Alphonse cooed with determination.

‘This is who I am.’ he said in the mind of Brother Jeremy. ‘Be gone now! Leave me in peace! Soon you will see. Pigeon Kin will climb. I will show the world. It will be done!’

Jeremy sighed. ‘Be now at home, but please, quiet this disobedient dream. Mother Janice the All Seeing Wing Bearer requests it. Come now and be Pigeon. But keep this living as you are, and be exiled.  This is the message Mother Janice has given Brother Jeremy to give to Brother Alphonse. Be wise.’

And with that, Brother Jeremy pecked at the bread, taking most of it in beak, and clumsily flapped his wings until he took off. He flew into the distance, narrowly missing the heads of Human passers-by and a small branch from a tree. He left Alphonse behind, with his thoughts and his pain.

As the sun began to set over the park, Alphonse made flight. He must speak with Mother Janice the All Seeing Wing Bearer.

The sleepy canal passed lazily under the bridge as busy human commuters queued in cars on the road above. The towpath that ran along the side of the canal was a mix of the white and grey of droppings that gave the place a faint ammonia smell. The metal girders that formed a structure for the road above was now occupied by countless cooing pigeons arguing and discussing the important issues of the day. As Alphonse approached the council, his confidence faltered slightly. What he was about to do would be perceived by many as foolish, even offensive, but he had to be true to himself. And with this, he pushed forward.

A stunned silence settled upon the Pigeons of the Highest Girders as Alphonse came to settle on the towpath under the bridge. Brother Jeremy descended from his metallic perch. ‘Brother Alphonse, good it is that I see you here. I am glad the words I gave brought light to you and now you are back.’

Alphonse took a deep breath and cooed quietly to his kin, ‘Thank you, Brother Jeremy, but I do not do this for you. I do this for me. I must–’ his dialogue was cut short by the mix of loud cooing from above. Voices impacted his brain; curious murmurings, doubtful tuts and concerned mutterings. Many of the voices he recognised; Father Algrid the Haggard commented on Alphonse’s self imposed dismissal, Sister Jackie the Boisterous gossiped on Alphonse’s mental health, Brother Hershel the Effeminate spoke concerns about Alphonse turning his back on the community and disgracing the Kin. The constant cooing fed doubt into Alphonse’s mind, growing concern over the decisions he had made in life, but with a stride of disobedience to those thoughts, he pushed through, and their judgemental cooing did nothing but fuel his ambition.

He gave a coo of attention, but it did not overcome the noise from above. He tried again, but his cooing did not reach their ears. A third time he tried, but just before his coo, everyone fell to a hushed silence. Mother Janice the All Seeing Wing Bearer emerged from her nest on the Girder of the Most High. In reverence, all pigeon-kin bowed before her presence. Alphonse observed this, and participated.

From her high girder at the centre of the bridge, she looked down upon Alphonse and cooed. Her voice was elderly, but calm in his mind. It carried authority, but also a gentle kindness unlike any of his pigeon kin.

‘Brother Alphonse,’ she said, ‘you approach the council. What would you ask of us?’

Alphonse stood before the council, the weight of their stares and preconceptions on his feathery shoulders. Doubtful Brother Jeremy by his side. Then a cyclist passed under the bridge and every pigeon flew from girder to girder in a blind panic for a moment or two. Alphonse Cooed.

‘Mothers, Fathers, Brothers and Sisters of the council. I, Brother Alphonse, come before you today to state my claim as an independent.’ A cloud of whispered shock fell under the bridge. Alphonse continued, ‘for a long time now, I have been rejected by my pigeon-kin over my ambition to become a Climber, to state my place among the Squirrel kin–’

‘You are the one who have rejected us!’ shouted the voice of Brother Theodore.

His objection was swiftly shushed by Mother Janice, ‘Quiet, Brother Theodore, let the young Brother speak!’

‘I shal take it no longer,’ continued Alphonse. ‘If you cannot accept me for who I am, then I reject you as my Kin! There is no loyalty in this den of fools! If you see a brother turn from your traditions, you turn your back on him!’

‘Watch your tongue, Brother Alphonse!’ cooed Mother Grennet, ‘We have not rejected you! We only wish you act in wisdom!’

‘Here Here!’ responded Brother Tim, ‘we only want what is best for you! But you wander too far!’

‘How dare you tell me I know not my own mind!’ Alphonse replied, ‘Where is your authority, that you may rule over my life! Who are you to tell me what is best! You do not know me, you do not understand me!’

Alphonse was outraged, he could feel the blood filling his pigeon-head, burning like fire! Then suddenly a dark shape descended from the girders and silence with it.

It was Mother Janice. She glided with an awkward kind of elegance to the dropping-filled towpath to be with Alphonse. A gasp of awe whispered under the bridge and she laid one wing on his back, and with a soft coo she spoke to him.

‘Brother Alphonse. You are a member of our kin, and we would never desert you. You must recognise that we have your best intentions in mind. It is not that we don’t want to see you happy, it is just that we fear for you!’ Silenced, Alphonse looked up at her. She continued. ‘We fear that you will never be happy, that you will not be able to reach your self appointed goal to be as the Squirrel-kin. We just fear that you will not appreciate who you truly are.’

At this, a coldness filled Alphonse’s heart. ‘Who I truly am?’ he asked as he stepped away. ‘I will show you who I truly am.’ He addressed the whole council. ‘I am no longer Brother Alphonse! I am Alphonse the Climber, and you will know my name!’

At this harsh outburst, Mother Janice stretched herself to her full height, wobbling backwards slightly. ‘Then I issue you a challenge, Alphonse the Climber, he who has rejected the wisdom of this council and turned his back on his kin!’ her voice was heavy as rock and unforgiving as the girders on which the council sat. A sudden pang of regret shot through Alphonse’s heart. Mother Janice continued. ‘Before the Sun sets on the third day, if you have achieved your goal as a climber, you are free to do as you wish! You will be free to live among the Squirrel-folk as one of their Kin and we will heed you no longer.’ Alphonse listened as shocked coos came from the council. ‘But if you do not achieve this madness, you must give up this silly ambition and accept the fact that you are member of the pigeon-kin. You will do so without grumbling and be thankful for what we believe you to be!’ Her voice softened as her wings descended onto his shoulders. She looked him in the eye. ‘Brother Alphonse, do we have a deal?’

Alphonse held her gaze for a moment, fear battling determination, his anger at his unjust treatments battling the kindness he is faced with now. He backed away, from under Mother Janice’s warm wings of care, and took the measure of the council’s staring eyes. ‘Before the Sun sets on the third day,’ he repeated, ‘we have a deal.’

In that very same moment, Alphonse took flight and exited the bridge as the pigeon council erupted in a cacophony of coos.

Mother Janice the All Seeing Wing Bearer stood silent on the towpath, watching him fly into the cool evening sky.

 

 

The Climber (PART 2) can be found here!

365 CREATIVE WRITING PROMPTS – DAY 5 – THE DRAGON’S MEAL

Hey guys, so a quick update on yesterday’s Creative Writing Prompt.

So basically I have had an idea of making a fantasy children’s story, written and illustrated by myself. Yesterday’s prompt inspired something that would fit into it quite nicely, but it isn’t quite finished yet. I get the feeling that I will be re-working it quite a bit, and as such I am only happy to post a little bit of this significantly unfinished work.

The prompt was:
5. Food: What’s for breakfast? Dinner? Lunch? Or maybe you could write a poem about that time you met a friend at a cafe.

And here is a small portion of what I have written.

But there is one mean and cruel monster,

He truly is a greedy old beast.

All the other animals and creatures,

He considers his personal feast.

Griffins and Pixies and Minotaur too

Succumb to his monstrous appetite

The great mighty Dragon, the fiercest of all,

Nothing can escape his great bite!

Goblins with slime, and Kracken with Lime

He’d snatch up and devour at a glance,

He’d eat humans too, like me and like you,

If he was given half of a chance!

It stalks and it chases and it finds what it seeks,

Escaping him is beyond hard.

With a great breath of fire from his mighty cruel mouth

He barbecues prey till its charred.

With piercing red eyes and great jagged teeth,

He can crunch through rock and through flesh,

He eats everything he lays eyes on,

Because eating is what he does best!

As I say, I hope to continue with this, padding it out into a larger story of mythical foods, but it may take a little time. Plus, rhyming everything is difficult – you think writing prose is hard? Not sure if you are using the right words? Try being unsure if you are using the right words AND having the uncertainty of the rhyme you have used being the right rhyme to convey the idea!

It’s a challenge, anyway.

So that was yesterday. Today I am working on another fun short story, so I will post that up as soon as I am finished.

Catch you later!

365 CREATIVE WRITING PROMPTS – DAY 4 – The Stone of Light.

Day 4.

Another short story. This one, however, was something I have been playing around with for a little while, I just needed an excuse to jot it down.

Todays 365 Creative Writing Prompt was:

4. Dancing: Who’s dancing and why are they tapping those toes?

It takes me a little while, but I get there in the end.

Once again, I must stress that this is unedited and written without much re-write, so there may be spelling mistakes and it may read a little crummy, but there you go!

Enjoy.

“The Stone of Light lies beside The Victor’s killer.”

That was what the scroll of parchment said, according to the Client, and was the single line that had started this whole farce! An entire year wasted in search of an ancient treasure that wasn’t even there! No wonder there were mutterings and unease between the crew! If the treasure wasn’t found and delivered to the Client, the whole thing was a waste of time and a waste of resources!

After the disheartening exploration of The Beast’s foul lair came to nothing, with not even the slightest hint of the treasure we sought, the company’s guide, Kent (a nickname, his original name was Kentzentotl, or at least that’s as close Charles could come to transcribing the name in Danandrian letters), had led them back to the Vonoti Village. The small clearing in the thick jungle was just as it was the first time they passed through – dirt paths trampled between trees and primitive huts, leading to a gathering circle at the centre of which a huge firepit roared.

Charles’s men were, as before, eyeing up the Females of the Venoti tribe. It was hard to blame them considering the significant lack of modesty and clothing that was part of their tribe’s culture. Even the tribe’s men walked round with nothing but a scrap of fur holding their balls together. The evening entertainment, however, was slightly different.

Almost in celebration of the explorer’s safe return, even without the sought after treasure, the tribe put on a banquet for us all. As the last rays of light fell behind the distant mountains, the fire was lit along with smaller torches around the meeting circle. Three large caldrons of spiced stews and curried meats were readily available. A large vat of some form of alcoholic drink – some form of sickly sweet coconut based drink that Charles wasn’t keen on, but seemed to do the trick – was brought out and dished out to people in carved wooden cups.

When the night was deep and the crowd was swaying under the influence of the peculiar coconut water, an old man took stage in front of the roaring fire. Everyone hushed as he spoke loudly and made elaborate gestures with his arms and a staff held in his right hand. Then in an instant he quieted. The gathered crowd sat silent. Charles was intrigued and kept an eye out. Then, with a sudden explosion of sound, bells rang and drums resounded. A cacophony of noise these people thought of as ‘music’ rang out with irregular rhythm and disjointed melody. And then, without any signal or warning, the instruments joined together in perfect unity.

Three figured stood before the flames, dressed head to foot in robes or royal reds and gold. A hideous mask hid the face of one and the three danced a jagged yet well choreographed and rehearsed dance. Unnatural movements and poses were performed with natural perfection, at times flowing with the unified music, yet elsewhere as frantic as the violent sound.

Charles’ men jeered and scoffed, they shifted awkwardly and yet others drank and eyes up the tribal women, but Charles himself was transfixed. His eyes were blank as he watched the movement, as though his mind had been transported back to another place, or another time. His men couldn’t see what was going on, what was being re-enacted, but Charles recognised the characters, he recognised the story, he recognised countless years of history and mythology passed down through the generations keeping this tribe’s culture alive.

And he knew the story.

It was why they were here.

The words of the myth swirled in his mind, over and over as the dancers performed their story

“When the Brothers came faced the Beast, the fight was fierce. The Brother known as The Victim launched a ferocious attack, his emotion fuling every move and every hateful strike. But those led by emotion find mistakes come too easy. He was struck down by the Beast. Just before it could land the finishing blow, the Brother known as The Victor struck at the Beast’s weakness and destroyed it. The two Brothers left the Beast’s foul layer with the Stone of Light in their possession, The Victor carrying The Victim. The two Brothers brought the Stone of Light back to the Village, and restored the land.

Shortly after, The Victor was found dead, with the Beast’s Dark Blade in his back and the Stone of Light taken.”

The performance ended, the crowd cheered and cried out, but something weighed heavy on Charles’ heart. He grabbed Kent with hopes he could communicate with one of the dancers.

‘Ask her who she played,’ he requested. Kent didn’t really understand the Dandanrian language, nor that of the Vonoti, but he tried his best to communicate with gestures and movement.

‘Brother,’ he said in response, with a gesture that signified The Victim.

‘Yes, I thought as much. But then why did she play him with a frown? I mean, The Victim is the one who gets the most out of the Beast’s defeat; it is on his shoulders that this entire quest rests! Surely he should be happy that the beast was vanquished and the stone retrieved?’

Kent looked at him puzzled. There was no way he could translate all of that!

‘Why then, did she have such an angry face at the end?’

Kent spoke a few words to the dancer, pulled a few faces, and she responded. Kent responded with a charade. He took a prop from the dancer, signified it was his, then she took it from him. He then pulled an angry face.

That was it. That was the answer.

Charles ran over to his second in command. ‘It was jealousy! That’s what killed The Victor, jealousy!’

‘What are you talking about, Charles?’

‘Don’t you get it? The Victor wasn’t killed by the subject of The Best! It was his Brother!’ Charles waited for a moment for his words to sink in. ‘The Victim was just that – a Victim. He sought justice from the beast, but more that that, he sought revenge! A revenge he was denied by his brother, a brother who went on the be known throughout the ages as The Victor. That should have been him! The roles were reversed, switched! The Victim killed The Victor!’

‘So what you’re saying is that we have been looking in the wrong place?’

‘What I’m saying is that The Stone of Light is hidden in The Tomb of The Victim!’

Charles’ companion considered this for a moment. ‘We were there only a month ago. We saw nothing there.’

‘Don’t be a fool!’ Charles responded, ‘We saw nothing there because we weren’t looking for it there!’

His companion considered this, then stared Charles in the eye. ‘Then let’s go.’

(C) Oz Durose 2017

image credit: vovkin.ru

 

365 Creative Writing Prompts – Day 2

So… Day 2, and something quite different.

Here is the prompt from 365 Creative Writing Prompts:

2. The Unrequited love poem: How do you feel when you love someone who does not love you back?

I wanted to challenge myself on this one. Dialogue is not my strong point. Monologues and descriptive writing is where I find myself falling back to. My initial thought for this one was to have an argument between a guy and a girl, maybe one with a twist from the question – the primary subject would be the one who didn’t love the other back. But one of the tips for writing dialogue is to know your character. And I didn’t know these people. I didn’t have the time to get to know them.

Then my mind turned to the old questions of ‘How is there so much beauty in the world’ and ‘Why is there so much pain?’ and the idea of the two being a flowing stream, intermingled together, and in the case implied in the question, the pain born out of beauty.

Here is Day 2, it’s a bit longer that yesterdays, but once again, unedited and raw, so I’m sorry if it reads badly.

Jak slumped in his tall, wooden chair, his right hand idly fondling an empty pint glass on the table, his left hand, well… it was under the table, so any one’s guess. He took a deep breath, long and slow, then let it out with a sigh. Pathetic. And I mean that in the most loving and caring way. And I mean that only half sincerely. I mean, that sound. The sorrow and the pain in it gone, now just an empty mockery of a sigh. It grates on me. I hate it.

‘I mean, how could this happen, man? I gave her…’ he upturned the pint glass over his mouth and I watched as the last dregs of stale lager snaked down the sides, form a drop on the rounded edge of the glass. He gave up before it fell. ‘I gave her everything. I made her happy, didn’t I? I made her happy.’

I learned early on that when he was in this state, my words didn’t help him. They provoked. I kept quiet, biting my lip every time his voice whined out of his mouth.

‘But now… man… I just hurt so bad.’ He dropped the glass on the table. It teetered and fell to it’s side. I caught it before it dropped. His head slumped in his hands. From the corner of my eyes I could see faces turn to Jak. The pub was packed with families and young couples enjoying a quiet pub lunch. Most were now looking this way. Could you blame them? Outside the sun shone and a warm breeze threaded through tree branches. It was two in the afternoon and Jak was wasted.

‘It hurts!’ he drew out the words in a loud cry of anguish. His head fell to the table with a crack and a few gasps of the pub’s patrons. In an instant his head was up hosting a wide-eyed gaze. ‘How can there be so much beauty in the world and yet so much pain?’

That’s it. I’d had enough. I knew I wasn’t meant to speak up, but all of the others had left. I leant over.

‘You’re thinking of all this the wrong way,’ I whispered across the table. ‘As though the two are conflicting forces… Beauty yet pain?’ I shuck my head in disgust. ‘Grow up!’ that part came out as more of a growl. He slumped in his chair, his heavily bagged eyes staring pitifully at his empty drink. I knew I should stop, but self control was never my strong point. I continued. ‘No! On the most part the two are intrinsic! One is born of the other!’ his head lulled, I slapped him, more gasps but I got his attention – his eyes wide and on me. ‘Jak, pull yourself together, get over yourself and realise this – beauty and pain? Your hurt comes from the beauty you had. If you don’t like it, tough!’

He looked about, like a child who sensed he was in trouble. He pushed himself from the chair and I forced him back down. ‘Pain is part of life. Get used to it!’ I checked over my shoulders. The others were nowhere to be seen. I leant close and whispered into his ear. Jak was a kind heart. Would never hurt a fly. Very much the opposite of myself, which is why the others forced me back. ‘Use it’ I whispered. His puppy-dog eyes, lost and hurt flickered, considered my words, and for the briefest of moments, sharpened.

‘I… I can’t, I need to go’

‘You can! You feel that pain! That’s the result of beauty!’

‘No… I…’

The pubs customers were starting to get agitated. A large bald-headed man came from behind the bar.

I leant in to Jak. ‘Well… just think about it.’ I said.

The seed was sewn. That’s all I needed.

The bald-headed man approached me. ‘Come on, lad, I think you’ve had enough.’  I couldn’t argue, Jak had.

He picked me up from the chair, my teary eyes burning. He slumped me over his shoulder and helped me out into the bright summer’s day.

The words whispered within my head again. Use it.

My eyes sharpened.

So I hope you got this idea of a guy talking to himself, or rather the shadow of himself. I love these thoughts on ‘the birth of a villain’ – pain turning to hate turning to resentment and bitterness, ending in a twisted outlook on life. This was that moment in Jak’s life.

Anyway, there you go. Any thoughts or comments, pleas let me know!

See you tomorrow!

Oz

image (c) Getty Images

Oz and Kate Wedding Animation – Modelling!

Hey guys,

For the first time I am writing something that I hope non of my friends or family will see, not till next year, anyway. If you are a friend of family member reading this Pre-Wedding, either stop reading NOW, or DON’T TELL ANYONE!

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In 363 days, I will be getting married to a beautiful young lady called Kate. This is a picture of us (Ok, this picture was taken many years ago, and age may have taken it’s toll on us since then, but this is us!).

As a surprise for the big day, I am working on a little animated presentation. Nothing too flashy, just something fun to entertain our guests. Don’t hate me because all I seem to model is cartoony versions of myself. I’m only a fraction self obsessed than you probably think. This time I actually have a purpose and a plan.

Now it has come to my attention that some (most) of the guests don’t really understand (have a clue) what it is I do as a CG animator (at all). My in-laws-to-be try to make conversation about my work, and as I talk, I can visibly observe the amount of understanding go from 100% to 0%, and have to resort to saying

‘Yes, I draw the picture

on the computer and move it

around.’

DISCLAIMER: This is not to say my in-laws-to-be lack intelligence. I have the utmost respect for them both, and recognise them as very intelligent individuals, but sometimes without physically showing people the rather abstract process of modelling a character, the words used to describe the process can simply get lost. (‘You start with a cube, like a physical 3D cube, and drag bits out of it,’, ‘No, it’s like a fully 3D model, but inside the computer’, etc)

V04_Front

OzMeshRender


So this is the design I created of myself and Kate as seen on our Save The Date. It’s nice and simple, and has the ability to be incredibly expressive when it comes to
the animation.

And this is the render of the Oz model. Clean and simple, block colours at around 30% self illumination, no need for individual fingers, and facial features are simple textures – no need for complex blendshapes or facial rigs for what I have planned.

DISCLAIMER: You should know, this is an ANIMATION blog. My focus here is on ANIMATION (and to a lesser extent, rigging), not modelling. My topology is basic, my UV unwrapping is planar and half-arsed, my texturing is lazy. I don’t care. This is an ANIMATION blog (with a slight focus on rigging), so if you want to learn how to sculpt some amazing film-level, hyper-real characters, YOU’RE IN THE WRONG PLACE. If you want to learn how to unwrap a model cleanly and with precision to take into zBrush or Substance, YOU’RE IN THE WRONG PLACE. If you want to read a blog that doesn’t use caps,

YOU ARE IN

THE WRONG PLACE.

I mean, here! This is my UV template and the texture map! You happy now? HAPPY!?!

OzTexture

So how did I get from this (simple cube objects)… to this (simple character)?

OzBoxToFinal

Well it’s just a matter of extruding polygons (squares… ¬_¬), adding loops (lines… ¬_¬) a moving vertices (dots…. or, rather, the points in which the lines touch each other… ¬_¬). Then, well, being lazy as I am, I Turbosmoothed the heck out of it.

OzExtrudeAndSmooth

With a little more care, and the joys of 3Ds Max’s modifier list, I tweaked, refined and added to the mesh until I was happy with the base shape, then created separate pieces of geometry for simple details – glasses, cuffs and… dare I say it; hair.

OzToFinalModel

I hate hair. In the illustration, it looks so simple. It looks nice and effective. How the heck can you change that into a CG model? Abstractly. That’s how! Pushing and pulling, and deleting and starting again! In the end I created three basic cone shapes, moved them into position, merged them and deleted/added any faces not needed/needed, I welded vertices until it looked ok, and then attached that to a duplicate of the head.

OzHair

Then smacked it with a Turbosmooth!

And planar mapped it!

What did I say? I’m an ANIMATOR (with a love for rigging), not a modeller or texture artist. You don’t like it? You can close this tab right now! Go on, I dares you!

So that’s the final model. I added the illustrated facial details on separate planes, I have my plans for those.

OzFinalModel

Next on the list of things to do – I need to take this model and tweek it till I have the Kate model, and then from there, the fun stuff!

RIGGING! Yeah! Making bones to move the model! This is gonna be a complex rig, and I wont get chance to write about it all, but if you’d like to know more about how I do it, just drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do.

Cheers for reading, guys!

BYE!

365 Creative Writing Prompts – Day 1

So it is true that if you want to become a better writer, you need to practice every single day.

So recently I have been in a bit of a lull as far as creativity is concerned. I have ideas in my head, but it has been a little while since I have actually picked up the pen to jot down more than just an idea or phrase or two.

My wife has inspired (well… challenged me) to come up with, develop and write a children’s picture book – that way I can be as silly as I want without getting bogged down with serious detail. And once the story is written, I can exercise my illustration skills to create a full and final product.

I like the idea, and so this bank holiday I did nothing. Well… nothing to help with that goal. I procrastinated by filming a Zelda Board Game Unboxing, but that in itself has inspired me in a way. It was fun, it was creative, and it gave me ideas of what I should do next.

So today I got to work – I opened up my browser and I noticed a tab I left open last week; 365 Creative Writing Prompts. I figured I’d give it a go, and thought I’d post the results. Please be kind, I haven’t spent much thought or time on these – nor have I edited them – so they are probably pretty poor, but it has been an inspiring start to the day and to the week, and so – with a fist pumped in the air – I’m gonna go for it and write a few paragraphs every (work-day) morning. Well… for as long as I can, anyway.

Here is day 1.

  1. Outside the Window: What’s the weather outside your window doing right now? If that’s not inspiring, what’s the weather like somewhere you wish you could be?

The trees across the McDonald’s car park sway. Not with any particular gusto, not bending under the power of a strong wind, but the branches sway quickly, shortly and with a sense of urgency, like a nervous man before a life changing decision. They seem to say ‘there is a wind, but it is unsettled’.

As I look out of the grimy window beside my computer, the dull grey clouds floating lazily along, selfish withholding the sun rays of which only one or two slip through, I am reminded of the fickle attitude of the English weather. Not even a week before we were sitting outside with ice creams, enjoying an unexpected may-time heatwave. Then the bank holiday happened, and what was glorious and bright turned miserable and dull, raining on plans of long walks and barbecues.

It’s no wonder the British people are how they are. People reflect their environments, their local weather. I look around the office. Faces staring blankly at their computer monitors, the only movement in their entire body confined to the wrists and lower.

Work can be like that. Work affects people in the same way a bank holiday affects the weather. Creative people with dreams, glorious and bright, now turned miserable and dull.

Sigh.

Ok, so let’s see how tomorrows goes!

See you then!

Oz