The trees can see. They see the clouds roll across the darkling sky, the palette of colors flowing into each other, waiting to be devoured by night’s black maw. They see the rise of the bleeding moon: the Witches’ Moon, as some call it. The minutes drag past as it rises higher and higher, past even the tallest of trees, until it sits upon its throne at the zenith. The red has faded from its face by now, revealing bright brilliant white underneath.
The trees like this. In this light, they can see everything.
They see the snow falling onto the dry yellow grass, a fresh blanket that dazzles and sparkles. They see the holes in them where the rabbits have tried to hide. They see the shadows their branches cast upon it, the way they reach and stretch with their movements when the wind pushes them.
The trees see everything.
The trees saw you.
They saw what you did that night when you drove here with a wrapped lump in the back of your pickup truck. You thought this place would save you, that there would be no one around to see you drag the lump across the ground, hefting it with both hands. It was not very large, but you struggled to move it. You struggled even more with the shovel when you drove it into the earth, digging deeper and deeper. You struck some of the trees on their roots. It hurt. They don’t like you. They watched you as you drove away, watched the snow cover the tracks you left behind.
They see the body rising now. Its hair is gone, its skin blackened by soil and worms. They see it walk. It stumbles, looks around like it’s lost. It looks sad. They whisper to it, reach out with their roots and help it to stand.
We see you, they say. We will help you see too.
It can see you now. It’s coming.
The somber beauty of the moor deepens with the darkening rage of the storms above. In the distance, it has begun to rain. It lashes over the hills and envelopes it in a thick haze, almost completely obscuring any glimpse of sky. The ground where she stands is yet dry, but there is a taste of petrichor in the air, carried on the wind like a promise. She knows it will reach her soon.
The manor is sheathed in dark shadows. It must only be feeling the storm’s fingertips, but it is just a matter of time. Wadsworth would be striding around the house ordering the maids and manservants around as they close the windows and seal the doors shut. Poor Mr. Hammond must be struggling with the horses. She hopes little Alicia is safe inside and not trying to catch frogs by the brook, the wild thing. A face floats to her mind and she curses. She had told herself she would stop thinking of him, that it would do no good to dwell on impossible prospects. She had to stop hoping for things that would only hurt her in the end.
A shape materializes out of the fog: the master of the house himself, still dressed in the same clothes he’d worn in town. Even across the distance, she can make out the proud chin, the distinctive curl of his hair, the pin of Rushwood Manor in his cravat. On his face is a look of determination and she knows he will not let her evade him this time. She turns her back quickly, hoping he didn’t see her notice him, but she knows he did. He always knows. He always knows when she’s watching.
The derringer is heavy in her pocket. His footsteps rustle across the moor. She has to finish what she has come here to do.
It’s not like he can’t see them. They’re right there in the corner of his vision, great hulking behemoths lumbering across the sky and casting shadows in all the bright places. Even if he chooses to turn away, face the other direction, the sound is always there. That constant droning hum accompanied by the dull whoosh of the ships when they cut through the still breeze. He doesn’t know what they run on, but they seem to change the very taste of the air. It’s been different ever since they showed up, even way up here where one would think they could get away from it all for a while. It’s sharper, almost tangy, like the taste of aether in the alchemists stall of the forbidden red market which he happens to know nothing about, thank you very much.
Smoke is rising from somewhere beyond Cotter’s Hill. A strike, no doubt. Second one this week. Another person who didn’t do exactly what he or she was told, dared to say no when their tribute was demanded, and thus, whiz woop and boom, another village torched to bits for their trouble. He lights his pipe and takes a few hearty puffs. He imagines the smoke beyond the hill to be the plain old sweetweed for his little pipe.
It’s strange how easy it’s becoming for him to lie to himself.
The sun is setting and the colors splash in vibrant hues across the clouds. The warships are still there, as is the smoke from the place they recently destroyed. But the evening is pleasant. His sheep are healthy and calmly grazing away. The sunset is beautiful. He can ignore the dangers of his reality for a little longer. They’ll be waiting for him when he goes back.
This is a picture about happiness.
The field is full of flowers, bright pink and purple heather. The wind moves between them, stirring them up to dance and they rustle with an almighty sound. You can hear them giggling. You look around you, searching for the person, for the source of that high clear laughter, but no one else is there. They are all around you. Their joy leaks into the soil and evaporates into the air to join the wind.
This is a picture about happiness.
The sky is the bluest blue you can imagine. It’s the blue of a fresh spring morning, of the nearby lake at high noon, of your favorite turquoise pendant, of your best friend’s eyes when they smile. The clouds are light and airy, like marshmallows or the meringues you had for dessert last night. They sail on the wind like great ships and you wonder if you can catch a sunbeam and climb onto one of them, catch the rigging tied to the main mast and cry, forward ho!
This is a picture about happiness.
You are there. You are there, standing in the laughing heather looking up to the bright skies where the clouds are sailing to faraway lands. You are there with your dog, your golden shadow, your faithful happy companion. The wind sings in your ears, tugs playfully at your hair and straw hat. The sheer joy of the world soaks into you, through your skin and down to your bones. You feel like you could fly.
You look happy.
This is an experiment as much as it is a challenge. Like every month or 100 day long project I’ve undertaken with art, this tackles specific weaknesses I’ve got and want to overcome. In this case, these are the guidelines:
- I don’t spend more than 45 minutes on each piece. The minimum bar is 30 minutes.
- The medium is digital, which is still a learning curve on my part.
- I compose an entire picture that tells some sort of story complete with backgrounds instead of just drawing up one character and calling it a day. Or getting lazy, which happens more often than I’d like.
- I use color scheme references sourced from Color Me Curious and The Perfect Scheme, both on Tumblr. This is because color is not my forte and I really ought to cut myself a wee bit of slack somewhere.
- This goes on for 31 days.
Aaaaaand that’s about it.
So here’s Day 1.
The air ripples as the sun smiles down on the canyon and the dirt takes in the heat with open arms. It scorches and sears, turning the earth from brown to red to rust. Everything here shines, like it’s been touched by gold. The ancient city stands empty, old ghost houses with open doors and windows for people who have long since burned and withered. Their bones are the dust and sand that line the nests of the Sunbirds, the only creatures who remain in this dead place. They were allowed to stay. The sun liked them, liked their fiery wings, their terrible anger, the way they turned their beaks up to the sky and bared their throats in supplication to the light and heat. The canyon is theirs now. And as long as the sun continues to like them, theirs it shall remain.
This blog has been in a coma for the past few months. Yes, a coma, not dead. As we can see, it is coming back to life and rather than an undead creature, it’s alive, though barely. Being put in a coma for a long time does a number on the poor thing.
The main reason for this has been a slew of real life events. Around the time when Inktober was getting finished (which was my last post), I was getting engaged after which I got married and moved to the USA. I now live in upstate New York with my lovely husband. Needless to say, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind few months during which I didn’t really have the time to consistently make art or write. I’m getting back to doing those both now.
There is a vast difference between living in India and living in America, but since I grew up in the USA for a good number of years, the transitioning wasn’t as drastic as it could have been. For the most part, it was a lot of deja vu and relearning things that I had known before. Even my old accent makes an appearance from time to time.
So a few glimpses.
A view from the work table in the living room. From here, you can look into the kitchen and look upon the dining table which, as you can see, is not really used as a dining table. Note to self: clean up at some point.
These two plushie friends hang from the work lamp right above my table. They were both wedding gifts from a good friend who knows me a little too well.
And here’s a quick pen doodle of China Wang, a little restaurant where my husband and I were getting dinner. I wanted to sketch the place and was bemoaning the fact that I didn’t have my drawing supplies with me when I realized that I always have a little notebook in my handbag along with a gel pen, which is technically all that I need. Thus, a five minute sketch. Also, the food is good. Their garlic sauce and General Tso’s tofu are great.
Otherwise, I’m settling in. Unearthing old projects and finding new ones. Tackling them one by one. Life is going on and it is good.
The High Priestess awards Mira with a ceremonial mask as a gesture for her services to Mydia, along with the reward that Tana Aleas and Jorro had promised when they struck their deal on Corrin Prime. Mira takes her payment and gift, bowing her thanks. Tana and Jorro stand at the foot of the temple steps and wave goodbye as they leave. The twin suns of Aeros are setting to the north as Mira and BT reach the Sparrow. Together, they ascend the ramp, rev up the thrusters, and take off back to the stars, ready for their next adventure.