Transgressive–Valren

Valren fell into a chair in the dim tavern, and rifled through their bag, pulling out parchment and a quill. They hardly looked up as a server approached, “Mead, please.” Valren sighed as they scribbled. A potion of Altered Visage would cost 5 silvers, but only last about ten minutes. If they bought a more expensive one, they could be disguised for an hour’s time, but the potion would cost 30 silvers.

“Sorry boy, the temple of Hestic only accepts women as students.”

A temple course was easily within that duration, but they’d also need to keep up appearances throughout the day. If Valren was lucky, they could get a three hour potion, but it would cost nearly 100 silvers, and they’d need eight of them a day. If Valren learned how to brew the potions the materials would only cost half that, but 50 silvers a day is still a lot of money.

And a temple to a goddess of magic is not a place to expect to be lacking in magical detection.

Valren stabbed the quill into the table in frustration as the server returned with a mug of mead for them.

“Here you are, sir. 2 coppers.”

“Not a sir.” Valren muttered as they fished two coppers from a robe pocket.

“‘Scuse me?” the server asked confused.

Valren looked up. They knew their stubble was already growing back in, that their frame was too gawky, their chin too square. They peered into the server’s eyes. “Never mind,” they said, pushing the small coins into her hand.

“Let me know if you need anything else!” she said chipperly, turning to leave.

“Wait- do you have any pie today? Blueberry?”

“Yeah, would you like a slice?”

“I could use one, yeah,” Valren said, turning back to their quill sticking out of the scarred table. Valren grumbled again, and plucked the quill from the table, slipping it behind their ear, the pen’s long feather mimicking the long green point of their ear. They rubbed their face, reaching blindly into their bag to produce a soft leather bound bundle of crumpled and stained pages. In a move practiced to hind brain functions, they set the book on the table face down and opened to the piece of cardstock they were using as a bookmark.

The book was scribbled with a dark ochre ink–fortunately people don’t think about the colour blood turns when it’s dead and dry–and the pages smelled sickly sweet if you got too close–fortunately the only people who knew what that smell was had horror stories from the war where they were the monsters, so they didn’t pry. Valren scanned the pages to find where they’d left off last and started scribbling notes down in mirrorscript goblese.

Their native script of goblese would probably have been safe enough in most cities, but Golan had a not inconsiderable goblin population. Mirrorscript was about the least they could do to keep some secrecy.

Fortunately they’d invested in Secret Ink and and a lens of Magic Detection. When the server set down the plate of pie, even if she could read goblese written backwards, it would look like nothing more than incredibly tedious notes from the market approval board meetings.

“Are you a wizardry student?” she asked.

Valren looked up, “I wish,” they scowled, “No, there’s precisely one place to gain magical training in this town, and it only takes people it deems to be women. Valren speared a bite of pie with their fork and shoveled it into their mouth.

The server looked around and sat down. Valren hadn’t paid much attention to her at first, but noticed now she was a half-elf, a species surely only marginally more popular around town than goblin. “And of course only a fairly narrow scope of magic,” she said.

Valren cocked a painted on eyebrow. “You want to study too?”

The light boned, oak-toned half elf nodded, “But the sisters don’t take too kindly to the use of cast off husks.” She slipped the rough-bound tome from the goblin’s hand and turned it over to look at the front, “Binding?”

Valren’s golden eyes widened slightly, just an instant, “Well, when no one wants to teach you healing or fire magic and you find a book full of summoning sigils and incantations… you take what you can get.”

The two appraised each other–the server noted Valren’s awkward frame and crafted femininity, Valren noted the stud of bone next to her eye that they’d previously taken for a piercing.

“Viola,” the half-elf said, offering a hand.

“Valren,” the transgendered goblin said, taking the thing hand and shaking gently. “Magic detection?” they asked tapping the side of their eye socket analogous to the half-elf’s bone stud.

“Less conspicuous than goggles, greenie,” she taunted lightly.

“Lots of goblins wear goggles,” they replied. “Light makes us tetchy.

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Daemon Mailer Progress Update

2014-11-23 22.49.03So, I’ve moved on to putting clothes on the goblin and fleshing out the gauntlet some more.

I moved her bust down on the feedback of friends who… have them, as well as tweaking the angle of hips and such.

I opened up WoW for the first time in a bit more than a year to take a look at goblin hairdos and pick one out, since this is for a WoW promo contest, and finally drew her face. I might put in some more piercings, since WoW goblins are big fans of those.

I’m thinking about tweaking the gauntlet a bit, both in design and pose. Perspective is screwy on that. Even if the vacuum tube and electromagnet coming off the cuff of the gauntlet are coming out on a plane perpendicular to the arm, they’re coming out at weird angles on that plane. I’m also thinking about turning the hand forward slightly to better get across the Dr. Strange-inspired gesture. Looking up Dr. Strange reference, the thumb needs to be pointed in the same direction as the fingers, and the fingers need to be parallel, rather than splayed, so I’ll tweak the hand pose regardless.

In the actual current drawing, I’ve roughed out some strips of the robe to have embellishment, which I need to design, and I’ve actually fleshed her feet out as well.

The belt needs embellishment as well, I think.

As always, critique and suggestions are welcome.

Daemon Mailer [Deviant Art WoW contest]

2014-11-22 18.25.16

Deviant Art is holding a contest to promote Blizzard’s new expansion for Hearthstone (it’s an online card game based on World of Warcraft for the rare few people who might read this who don’t know what that is).

The basic object is to draw a gnome or goblin character, based on the World of Warcraft gnomes and goblins. Both races are, of course, short, and are the tinkers of the setting, though Gnome tech is more shiny, orderly clockwork and Goblin tech is more cluttered, random “schizo tech”.

Given my preference for goblins and all things dark, I am of course drawing a goblin warlock with magi-tech. The rocket gives the drawing it’s title, as it is a “Daemon Mailer,” ie, a weapon for shooting imps at people. The other hand will be clad in a mecha-magical gauntlet similar to that worn by Rasputin in Hellboy.

I am open to critique and criticism and would in fact like any people have to offer, so I can fix stuff now.

The brood-matriarchs of Baal

A Brood Matriarch of Baal (as conceptualized, she would probably be nude save for adornment, but this isn't an NSFW site, so she is covered in leather throws)
A Brood Matriarch of Baal (as conceptualized, she would probably be nude save for adornment, but this isn’t an NSFW site, so she is covered in leather throws)

In the center of the continent, lies the fens of Baal, home to a group of goblins which would be called a culture, were those inclined to use the word not loathe to apply it to goblins.

Goblins are, generally speaking, small, fecund and highly variable, and often lacking in much in the way of a social structure more complex than “horde” (or so the general opinion goes). The goblins of Baal, on the other hand, squatting in their murky dens dug into the muck, have established a matri-oligarchy, similar in some ways to a hive of social insects.

The culture of the Baal goblins is ruled over by a group of fertile females, called Brood-matriarchs, whose primary function is to become pregnant and give birth to litter after litter of goblins. Because goblin life tends to be short, often artificially so, due to lack of caution or extermination with extreme prejudice enacted by neighbouring cultures, the typical goblin hyper-fertility has started to be seen as a blessing by the Baali goblins.

Holding the blessing of their god, and controlling, literally, the means of production of new goblin warriors, the fertile females of Baal rose to power. They receive counsel from other goblins more able to travel, but make all decisions for the clan. They are always pregnant, or nursing and receiving males to become pregnant. The opportunity to become the father of part of the next generation has become a highly sought after form of prestige amongst the males, and copulation with a brood-matriarch has become a reward for those who perform valuable services for the clan, and those who perform their duties above and beyond all expectation. The opposite fate, awaiting those who too-frequently fail their clan, is castration, the utter revoking of the opportunity to ever serve the clan as anything more than fodder or labor. Those who fail again after already being castrated are often given the duty of guarding the brood matriarchs. Far from the honor this might be seen as, it is a constant reminder, in the form of the wanton and lascivious brood-matriarchs and their open rutting with more honored clan members, of the guard’s failure and the fact that he cannot perform for his clan the highest service a male goblin can-fathering the next generation.

As they are the direct power behind the greatest strength of the goblins–numbers–the brood matriarchs receive the greatest respect, honor and treasures of the clan. They have no responsibilities, only privileges. The privilege of giving orders, the privilege of not working, the privilege of food at their mere request, the privilege of their pick of mates, and the privilege of the spoils of raids.

Not all females of the clan are brood-matriarchs, however. When a power behind being fertile began to condense, those females of the time who were pregnant sealed that power away. They, essentially, created an eldritch poison which made females barren when ingested, and had shamans enchant their bodies to produce this poison in their milk. They then created an antidote, and jealously guarded that formula. When a female goblin has proven worthy of great honor, she may be selected for possible fertility, and given the choice. Should the female accept, she will be given the antidote, and shortly become fertile and take her place. If she declines, she is given another position of high honor–high priestess. All females of the Baali goblins serve the shrines in some function, usually as acolytes, but only those who have proven their worth to the clan, and decided that brooding is not a life for them, may lead the clan’s holiest rites.

The goblins of Baal are otherwise normal goblins for the most part. However, the brood-matriarchs keep a constant watch for strong males who could potentially pass their strength on to children. Due to the highly adaptable nature of goblins, they are able to be impregnated with almost any male’s material. The mother’s system will pick out the most useful traits and add them to the genetic concoction assembled from her many paramours, and, after a certain period of time, begin to grow the fetuses of the new litter, saving copies of the best genetics to potentially impart on the next, much like a cat’s reproductive system save with a complex and sophisticated intelligence all its own.