I've dabbled in a lot of art forms over time, and still have some stuff to show for it, so I figured I'd just post an art dump here (I prefer one central topic for everything rather than one for every little thing). Only things I care to post right now are poems, stories, and sprite works. Let's start light, shall we? Poems it is! Three Dragons: One dragon paints the meadow white, the next breathes forth his ire. The last snuffs out this world's pale light, three dragons, born of fire. The first hails from the frozen north, where winter storms do gale. His claws rend all who do come forth, his talons pierce the toughest mail. The next from craters of the earth, where fire rules the day. His grinning visage, devoid of mirth, breathing flame spilled forth to slay. The last flies forth from darkened skies, another world, where daylight fades. Sleeping silent, the shadow lies. The dragon wakes, the dark invades. One dragon paints the meadow white, the next breathes forth his ire. The last snuffs out this world's pale light, three dragons, born of fire. My first poem, Three Dragons is sort of a fantasy-apocalyptic story about three dragons destined to destroy the world. I imagine it being a tavern ballad or campfire song for adventurers in whatever world I might decide to set it in (for now it's a standalone). A Leap of Faith: A leap of faith, reborn in fire. Invoke their wrath, blazing ire. Shining in the sky, their flaming sire. A leap of faith, undeath in fire. Three rise up, cry tears of fire. Yet struck down, in blazing ire. Weeping in the sky, their flaming sire. Three made low, cry tears of fire. A Leap of Faith is my second, shorter poem, and I don't consider it as good as Three Dragons. I wrote it as a supplement for a series I planned to write called World of Fire, of which I only ended up writing one story in (which I won a writing contest with, incidentally). Nightfall (incomplete): The shadow falls, invades the light, herald of the dark, the night. Moon rise high, sun fall low, call the nocturn, raven, crow. Dark sky weep, living one sleep, haze, hide the sun, cloudy sky, light shuns. Dark forest lie still, wolf awake, to hunt, to kill. Leaves above, a viridian veil, earth below, life shall fail. Stalk the prey, tear the flesh, Scatter the blood, renewed afresh. Rend the throat, rip the neck, call to the sky, begin the trek. Nightfall is an incomplete poem I started a very long time ago and work on every few months, writing maybe half a stanza each time. I still think it's inferior to Three Dragons, and I especially don't like the "dark sky weep" verse. I've tried to improve it every once in a while, but never found a way that worked. Obviously the poem itself is about night falling in a deep forest, and predators awakening. Well now that we're through the short stuff, we're on to my writing works. I've written hundreds of things over the years, even if they were just RPs I never published, short stories I never wrote more than a few hundred words on, or plans for projects I never went through with. Here are just a few stories I care to share: Blinding Light: Spoiler (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Show Spoiler Hide Spoiler Raya was having a bad day. She had awoken without getting much sleep, due to a bout of solar induced nightmares during the night. The day before at work the blinding canopy had caught on fire because the personnel assigned to maintain it had forgotten to coat it with the reflector for the day, and when part of it burned through, most of the workers at the Moonset factory had been subjected to sunlight. Raya had gotten off a lot better than the other workers; she had managed to find shade quickly. Some were babbling nonsensically, and one poor bastard had fainted. Raya had only suffered from minimal exposure and thus had only a few nightmares, but that was bad enough. When she had arrived at the factory that morning, several people were missing; those that had suffered the worst of the last day's exposure. Raya was assigned to fix the blinding in the dusk hours before the sun rose again, but she nearly lost her balance on the thin walkways and fell to her death upon finding the charred corpse of Robert, the man who was supposed to apply the reflector. The official story was that he had been caught up there during noon on accident and been immolated, but everyone at the factory knew the man had been exposed to the sun too much in his lifetime. Most probably he intentionally neglected to apply the reflector and stood up there as the sun rose, watching it's harsh light until the object of his insane worship destroyed him. The day had not improved from there. Raya stepped in the door of her apartment, glancing out at the balcony. Her brother, Charles, was one of the Mad, someone who been exposed to the sun years before it became physically dangerous. He had insisted on renting a place with a balcony, and had only sustained from tearing down the thin blinding over it because she wouldn't let him, and he wasn't so far gone that he would ignore his younger sister. He was sitting there now, staring at the setting sun, beautiful and harsh. Raya was captivated by it herself for a moment, then shook her head. She couldn't let herself fall into the same trap. A week passed. A month passed. Raya made a habit of watching her brother and trying to keep him from staring at the sun for too long. Each night she would go out there and sit with him, urging him to come inside and stop burning his soul. He wouldn't listen; he never listened. She began to find herself catching glimpses at the sun without herself realizing. At first she forced herself to stop; soon, that became impossible. The longer she looked at it, the more she understood her brother. Charles had lived in a world of fire and death for so long. The sun was like a wrathful god who flayed them whenever they dared show their faces. But it was a just god. Despite all it's anger, all the suffering it had caused, the people still depended on it for life. Without it their world would be nothing but a frozen orb, suspended in space, it's infinite momentum carrying it until it collided with some star, ending it's miserable existence in an unspectacular flash of light. Soon, Raya stared at the sun as intently as her Mad brother. Soon she found herself wanting to pull the blinds back and dance before her fiery god. Something in her told her this was wrong; something in her said this was not what she should do. At first she listened. She contented herself to watching the sun through the safety blinding, letting it's power infuse her slowly. But then that urge to stay her hand disappeared, replaced by an ever growing desire to destroy the pitiful shields that separated her from holy flame. Then one day, a month and a half since the Moonset Incident, as it was now referred to, she gave in. Raya stepped forward, looking back at Charles, who still stared at their god with a blank expression. She took that as a sign of encouragement in her eagerness. The girl set her hand on the blinding, a lighter in her other hand. While the permanent reflector node on the outside prevented it from burning from the sun's rays, it had no protection from mundane flame. She flicked the switch and watched delightedly as the tiny flame flared into existence. Raya set the flame against the blinding, and the meager canopy quickly caught fire. She dropped the still flaming lighter, ignoring the fact that it set the rug on fire, and attempted to rip apart the blinding with her bare hands, oblivious to the burns on her hand that came as a direct result of this act. Soon the shield was gone, and she could stare at the noonday sun in all it's fiery, holy glory. Charles stood, his face alight with wonderment. His skin began to char ever so slightly as the full power of the sun's rays hit him. Raya was not as affected, to her dismay. She was from a more recent age, and tampered with biologically so that she was protected to some slight degree. She stepped forward to the edge of the balcony, staring down at the sea below. The whirling flame that made up her world's ocean burned below her, not so different from the sun that burned above her. It's light was alluring; tempting; amazing. The girl looked up at the sun one last time and smiled. Raya jumped. Blinding Light is one of my earliest short stories, and I still like the concept, even though I find my old writing subpar. It's the only thing I wrote in the World of Fire series I mentioned, and the story I won a writing contest with (in fact, of the four entries, Blinding Light received exactly 75% of all total votes). It's kind of short because the contest had a word limit of one thousand words, and there's some grammatical errors in there. Maybe I'll fix it up some time, eh? A Poor Reflection: Spoiler (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Show Spoiler Hide Spoiler Lev Johnson. Avansere Militia Spec Ops, Division III, classified as an energy manipulator. Known to be one of the best of the best in his field of infiltrating secured compounds and then escaping cleanly. Highly augmented and only called upon for sensitive missions. This certainly qualifies as a sensitive mission... Lev thought. He was clad in standard issue for this type of mission, an armored, soundproof full body suit, complete with helmet that covered his gruff face and sandy blond hair and beard. He carried two weapons; an LRAD rifle, currently in his hand as he crept down the corridor, and a silenced ten millimeter at his waist. The LRAD was set to about 180 decibels, and at about 10Hz. Enough to burst a human head over a few seconds. The pistol was loaded with barbed rounds, designed to catch inside the body and disable an opponent. Not exactly humane, but Lev wasn't paid to be humane. His latest task was to recover a certain object of interest, the encrypted genetic overwrite codes of the latest line of Infusions, from this facility before the unknown group who had stolen them cracked the encryption and copied them. The thieves had been tracked to this private laboratory, although now that he was inside, Lev knew the "laboratory" guise was a facade. It was closer to a permanent military encampment. He had already seen three guards armed with assault rifles, wearing unmarked body armor. Mercenaries, or a private army. It didn't make any difference. Stopping quickly as he reached a corner, he flipped on a function of the Integrated Vision Enhancer. Outlines of objects around the corner faded into view on his interface. Of note, there was a door, a guard, and a camera. First order of business was the camera. His own personal brand of manipulation was electricity and electronic devices, hence his classification as an energy manipulator. He set his hand against the wall, feeling the cords that ran through it, connecting cameras and other devices to other rooms. While his ability wasn't refined enough to trace the signals and see through the camera's eyes, it was well within his capability to alter them to cause a feedback loop in the one nearby. It wouldn't be a problem. Now, for the guard. Setting his LRAD rifle against the wall, pointed at the highlighted guard, he mentally turned up the decibels to compensate for the loss of going through a solid object. Changing the frequency to match the lungs, he held the trigger and felt the silent sonic pressure blast through the air, reaching the guard on the other side and going through his chest. Lev heard a muffled choking sound as the guard struggled for breath. Matching the frequencies of his lungs, the agent had shut them down with a prolonged blast. The enemy couldn't breathe until he let him. He counted seconds in his head, knowing precisely how long was necessary. After several, he released the trigger, the guard collapsing in unconsciousness. Much longer would have killed him, but Lev's job wasn't to leave dead enemies. He padded around the corner, stepping over the guard, and to the door. It was unmarked, but a quick scan with iVision told him it was a computer room. A good find. Even if the codes weren't in there, chances are there would be information telling him where they were. There was a single man, sitting at a terminal. Whether he was armed or not, Lev couldn't tell. Placing his hand on the door, he felt the cables connecting it to the alarm system. The door was unlocked, but if it were opened, a silent alarm would be triggered. Flexing his proverbial muscles, Lev amplified the electricity flowing through that cable, causing a spark that severed the connection. It was safe to open it now. Clipping his LRAD to his side, he drew the pistol, braced himself, and then threw open the door. It wasn't a guard at the terminal, rather a man in a white coat. Probably a hacker trying to break the encryption. Quickly pointing his weapon at the back of the man's head, he said. "Don't make a move, or scream, or I'll put one in your brain." Although visibly trembling, the hacker made no move to turn around or set off an alarm. Closing the door and walking up behind him, Lev cracked him smartly over the back of the head with the handle of his pistol, knocking him out of the chair and into unconsciousness. Sitting down at the terminal, he looked at the screen. The security protocols were bypassed. Not just unlocked with an access code, but deäctivated completely, or so proclaimed a message in red text in the corner. Glancing at the man, Lev wondered if he wasn't the only person trying to find the genetic codes. But he may as well use the terminal, since the hacker had so kindly disabled the security system. Hands flashing across the keyboard, he brought up a map of the place, checking what was located where. Central computer room... He read. That's probably it. He knew where he was going now. It wasn't that far away. Stepping out of the room, he closed the door behind him. It took him several minutes of sneaking and dodging through the corridors to reach his destination. Two guards stood in front of it, standing alert. After disabling the surrounding cameras, Lev set his LRAD to a much higher decibel and fine tuned it's frequency. He didn't have an angle to disable both at once, so he would have to take a more direct approach. He steeled himself, then whirled around the corner, flicking the trigger and releasing a massive wave of ultrasound. The guards staggered and clutched their heads. Their armor was sufficient to stop it from permanently deafening them, but it wasn't pleasant. Before they could regain their senses, Lev was on them. He dropped one with a quick punch, fueled by his augmented strength, and as the other reached for an alarm, he tripped him and then, since he had touched one of the electrical components of the man's armor, discharged a shock that knocked him out. The methods weren't as clean as he would have liked, but it got the job done. He checked the door. This time it was locked, and, as expected, connected to a silent alarm. Disabling the alarm as he had before, he released the locking mechanism by overcharging the ocular scanner. There was an audible "click" as it unlocked. Before going inside, Lev checked what was beyond the door. It was a large room, larger that perhaps was necessary. There was one man, that he could see, sitting at a table in the center. Drawing his pistol, he burst in the door again, pointing his pistol at the man's back. He was dressed in a brown suit, and was clicking on a laptop on the table in front of him. Surrounded by high tech terminals, and he was decoding one of the government's greatest secrets on a laptop? Or perhaps not. What if he had already decoded it? But regardless... "Stand up and turn around." He said flatly. "Don't do anything else. If an alarm goes off, you're dead." Slowly, the man did as he was told. He turned around, and Lev gazed on an old, old face, marred by wrinkles. The man wasn't a threat. Even if he had a weapon, he was far too old to have an Infusion. And Lev Johnson knew for a fact that he didn't. He knew the man. It was David Light, an old old friend of his. Light had watched him grow up. Had known his father. Had looked on in disapproval as Johnson joined the army, had Augment after Augment installed. He was a human conservationist. And he also had the wealth to set something like this up. "Well, well, well." Light said. "You're perhaps the last person I expected to see come through that door, Johnson." Not bothering to ask how David knew who he was, Lev replied. "Small talk will get us nowhere, Light. What do you plan to do with the genetic overwrite codes?" "Create a kill switch. I'll make a signal that will overcharge every single Infusion in Avansere that uses those codes. Everyone born in the last twenty years will die. It will be a cleansing. A chance to start anew, as we were meant to be. Unaugmented, pure." "And you planned to kill millions of people to satisfy your ideals? What is this, Light? You were never like this." Even Lev was taken aback by the horribly grandiosity of the old man's plans. "It's the end of the world, Johnson. This world, anyhow. I'd kill everyone on the planet if it would allow mankind a fresh start." "You won't get the chance to. You'll be in a top security prison before the day is out." "Perhaps. Perhaps not. But I've already decrypted the codes. I already know the pattern, how these are put together. I see now, that there was never any other way. I can break any other codes this nation's cursed scientists ever make, and I will not remain imprisoned forever. I win, at the end of the day." Lev knew how to end it. David was right. He would escape eventually, and everyone who lived in Avansere would be endangered. He suddenly realized he had no problem carrying the deed out. "That's where you're wrong." He told the madman. "You won't see another sunrise." "Was that a threat? You're a poor reflection of your father, Lev." Light said. "He was a noble man, a righteous man. Or, he was until he gave in, accepted the disease. Allowed you to be corrupted." "I never pretended to be my father." One bullet was all it took. Even as Light fell, his body twitching and blood streaming from his face, Lev strode past him to the laptop. There were the genetic overwrite codes, an innocuous drive plugged into a port in the computer. He snatched them, slipped them into a pocket, and then turned and left. He didn't look back. A Poor Reflection was also written for a writing contest, but a more recent one than the one I wrote Blinding Light for. It's set in a fictional cyberpunk world of my design; the basic concept being the invention of augmentations called Infusions that allowed cybernetic augmentations and tools with certain kinds of ports to link directly to the brain safely, letting the user control them with thought. In addition, it unlocked the hidden potential of the brain, bringing out a sort of telekinetic ability that only affects certain objects. This story itself was a prequel related to an RP I planned to set in the world (called Through a Glass Darkly), but I never did much with the RP. A Dream of Fire: Spoiler (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Show Spoiler Hide Spoiler The dark was fading when I took your hand. The ice was thawing and the winter dying. I could see, for once. There was nothing like this feeling in the whole world. I felt warmth, I saw a light. I grasped for it, climbing towards the sun. I touched it, and I could feel the heat. I knew the burning was over, and I was cold. I shivered, and realized I felt empty. My soul no longer blazed, but I was not happy. It was with a melancholy regret that I turned my back on the pyre. I thought I was done with the pain. Forever. I was wrong. And then my vision was fire. I found myself in a familiar region. Sprawling plains and crisscrossing rivers. This was my home. Yet, at the same time, it was not. The caravans I had been raised in burned sullenly, slowly rotting away to ash. The blue rivers I loved so dearly were no longer blue. Now, they ran with flame. The green grass had lost its vibrant color. It was charred and black, as if after a wildfire. I turned around, and there was a tent, burning as was everything else. I saw myself standing in the entryway. My red hair was tangled and singed at the end, and blood spattered my green jacket. Behind me, on the blackened fur rug, lay three bodies, unrecognizable. Their ash still burned, somehow. The self that I saw reached out, and so did I. I took my hand, and I felt the same flame. I felt my flesh withering under its touch, but no pain. Soon, there was no disctinction between skin, or muscle, or bone, and fire. Then I was somewhere else. I was in a vast room, with walls of stone and a floor of granite. It was featureless but for three things. The ignited remains of a table lay on the floor near the center, various metal tools and liquid compounds spilled around it. Burning next to it was a plain stone slab and a melted chain, the oozing links leading back to the tiny barred cell in the corner. Once again I saw myself, standing at the foot of the slab. My red hair was tied back in a long ponytail, and my clothes were blackened sackcloth. Laying before me, his mouth still open in a silent scream, was figure somehow still recognizable. I knew him, and I hated him. But his pain gave me no pleasure. It just fed the fire of my soul. The flaming destroyer that called herself me turned, her eyes soulless and her expression neutral. She held out her hand, and fire spilled from it, slithering to the floor like a snake and racing along the ground to touch my foot. It climbed, and soon I was aflame too. This time there was no sense of burning or withering, only a calming yet troubling sense of oneness. The setting changed one last time, but only the background. The foreground was the same. It was still fire and destruction. Only this time my phantom was not here. Instead there was only a specter of flame, surveying the death around it. The temple I had once thought beautiful in a twisted way was now as black as my soul. The specter, glowing red-orange, stepped toward me, and I could not move. Three steps more, and it touched me. Then there was no distinction between girl and specter. There was only fire. There were faces in the flame. Some I knew keenly, others only passingly. Some I loved dearly, but others I hated with all my heart. There was only one I had never seen, but I knew him still. He was the specter that destroyed. I was the vessel of Fury. I watched everything I knew burn and crumble to ash, and then I watched the ash rise up to build anew. I saw it re-created it in the image of fire. And there was nothing I could do but watch the world burn. I wrote a Dream of Fire as a supplement for one of my most successful RPs, Runefire. At the end of Runefire, one of the main characters, a girl named Rain whose power was fire, was captured by one of the bad guys, the Spirit of Terror. A Dream of Fire fills in what happened to her between Runefire and Runestar, albeit in a very vague way. Crimson Mask (Incomplete): (Warning; kind of bloody and not for the tripanophobic) (Move your mouse to reveal the content) (Warning; kind of bloody and not for the tripanophobic) (open) (Warning; kind of bloody and not for the tripanophobic) (close) I hurried along the crowded street, slipping through the throng of people. I pulled my black trenchcoat closer around me, shivering, and clutched the book I was carrying to my breast in an attempt to shield it from the rain. I hated the rain. Everyone in this part of town was pale as it was. We needed the sunlight. I lived in Athens, the three tiered city. The second floor was mostly shielded from the rain by the Sky district above it, but there were places, like this street, that were uncovered and served to appease the citizens that desired to live in the sunlight but were not wealthy enough to buy an estate on the third floor. It was a luxury I was usually thankful for, but today I almost envied the low class workers and squatters who inhabited the first floor. The first tier of Athens, the Ash district, was entirely shadowed by the Peak district, my own place of residence. Nothing but artificial light didn't seem so bad, during the rainy season. But regardless, there I was, pushing past the afternoon crowds on my way to a local library. My name is Sameen Harper, a paranormal investigator. Despite my occupation, I wasn't a superstitious person. I didn't believe in the supernatural, and that was precisely why I was so good at my job. Most of my cases ended in my finding the logical cause for a supposed "haunting" and putting my client at ease. Recently, I had been hired by a young man whose father had just died and left him his estate. The man thought that something was "up" with his new house and had hired me to find out what. He explained that when he'd first stepped into his father's study, he had seen a trickle of blood coming from one of the bookshelves, but he couldn't find a source, and there had been no trace of it the next day. He had begun to find blood in all sorts of strange places in the room. Puddles in drawers, stains on the carpets, splashes on the walls, all gone the next day. Deciding that his house was haunted, he had telegraphed me. I arrived expecting, as usual, to find a naturalistic explanation within a day or two, get my pay, and be done. I wasn't sure yet that he wasn't hallucinating (many of my clients did), but when I opened the door to the study, it looked like a crime scene. Blood splattered seemingly every open surface, oozing out the cracks in the walls and puddling on the floor. It was a revolting sight. The first thing I did was take a sample, which I had tested. I had to make sure that it was real blood and not some cleverly designed liquid. I had seen stranger things in practical jokes, which were the cause of many a case. When I came back, the room was clean again. After a couple hours of searching, I found a large and very old book that seemed off. The binding was red, but it was a little..more than red. When I took it off the shelf, I found it ever so slightly damp. The binding wasn't dyed red; it was covered in blood. The title was "On the Rituals and Practice of Blood Magic". At the time I assumed it to be a fake occult tome written by some nutcase who thought he could do miracles, but that didn't explain the actual blood, still fresh, that adorned it. I checked the shelf it had been on thoroughly, even moved it and checked the wall, and found nothing. None of the other books had any bloodstains. Then my client walked in and saw the book in my hand. He made a sign with his hand that was common among religious types and superstitious crazies; supposed to ward off evil spirits. I asked him if he recognized the book, but all he told me was to get it out of his sight. I set it down in the other room and questioned him again. His only answer was to offer my full pay then and there, so long as I left with the book and never came back. I accepted, wondering why he was so spooked. To my chagrin, it wasn't long before I learned. Out of curiosity I had flipped through the tome when I had arrived home; it was a lot of nonsense about some kind of masochist fantasy; bloodletting yourself to cast magic spells. It was, however, very old. I was no expert, so I didn't know how old, but I could tell an ancient book when I saw one. I figured I may as well get it appraised and sell it, which brings us to my trip to the library, where it all began. It wasn't long before I noticed the crowds thinning, which was odd. It was a busy time of day and a busy part of town. I looked a little closer and noticed people stopping and veering away, turning around entirely and leaving when they hit some invisible boundary line. Soon, there wasn't anyone within fifty yards of me. I was a little unnerved, but I shrugged it off. I passed through a tunnel that connected to another section of the town, lit only by dim, flickering naked bulbs. As I reached the exit, I vaguely noticed the lights sparking and going out behind me. I paid it no mind, taking a left and arriving at the courtyard in front of my destination. The rain was passing, but it was still cloudy, creating a gloomy atmosphere. I was alone entirely as far as I could tell. I walked up to the front door of the library, making to push it open. Locked. It was midday, I knew they were open. There was no reason for the door to be locked. Puzzled, I turned to leave and happened to glance at my reflection in a puddle. My long black hair hung haphazardly across my face, framing my pale skin and blue eyes. Then the puddle rippled, and there was another figure. A massive man in white robes, standing directly behind me. Four white wings spread out from his back, and something long and very, very bright was in his hands. Instinctively, I turned around. There was nothing there. Part of me wanted to stay and investigate, but my more primal instincts told me to get the hell away, and they won out. I turned first to the tunnel I had arrived through, and my heart skipped a beat as I saw that the two bronzed metal doors stood shut tight. I tried across the street, but as I took the corner, I saw an upturned, derailed steam powered tram, laying squarely in my path blocking the road. It was short enough I could probably climb it, so I wasted no time in tossing the book on top and pulling myself up. As I took the tome in my hands again, something flickered across my peripheral vision. I whirled around, but didn't see anything there. Then I noticed a large white feather laying tranquilly on the tram in front of me. Almost bemused, I picked it up. It was stained with some black substance, dyed in erratic spots. Shaking my head, I dropped the feather and quickly slid off the tram to the other side. To be greeted by the very sudden appearance of the winged being I had seen. I could see its face clearly now; unusually large eyes that lacked pupils and a thin mouth that was barely more than a slit. It made a sound like a hiss, raising the glaringly bright object it carried. It bared its teeth, and I noticed that its canines were long fangs--something straight out of a vampire flick. I proccessed all this in the fraction of a second before I dove to the side instinctively. I slipped and fell on my back, bracing myself by grabbing onto the tram. I looked at the...thing just in time to see something like a black cloud engulf it. It emit a terrifyingly bestial scream and when the inky black shroud vanished, it was gone. I stopped questioning things, then, and rushed back to my house on the other side of town. - I fumbled with my keys unlocking the door, almost dropping them. I threw it open and slammed it behind me, locking it, for all the good that would do. I dropped the book and slid to the floor, sitting against the wall. I looked at the curious tome, and laughed long and loud. Was it really happening? Even if I passed off the creature stalking me as a hallucination, the other events were still strange. I knew for a fact the library should have been open, and the doors that sealed those tunnels in cases of emergency took several minutes to close, and the steam engines that did the heavy lifting were loud. It wasn't possible they could have closed behind me without my noticing. And the tram. I had never seen one of those things malfunction, much less so catastrophically. And there was noöne in it, noöne around the whole place. People just...swerved, turned away without a thought if they got too close to my destination. None of it was normal. I picked up the book again. Was it really possible? What if I had finally found the truly supernatural? I opened it to its introduction. There was no author listed, just a title. Not even a table of contents. It spoke of magic and demons as if they were everday things. The introduction explained that mortals normally couldn't perform miracles without the aid of an extramortal being; a god or one of their angels--or a demon. But there was a way to tap into the very energy that sustained life itself, harness it and affect reality. It all sounded like nonsense, but my safe, comfortable, skeptical fortress had been shaken today. If I could believe an angel was out to get me, could I believe in blood magic? Why not? The book detailed the rituals required before you could even cast a spell, binding a knife to yourself that would be used for the bloodletting. It wasn't like the magic word mumbo jumbo every other occult book talked about; it was simple. A combination of your will and a bit of blood. All you needed to do to "consecrate" a knife to yourself was bathe it in your own blood and then scar yourself with it, and then blammo--you could cast masochistic magic whenever you wanted, if you were willing to bloodlet yourself to power it. A part of me was still skeptical, but the majority was curious; what if it did work? If I could really cast the spells set down here, I could defend myself against anything to come at me. I knew I was an idiot for even considering it, but I had just been attacked by an angel in the middle of the street and saved by...something. I laughed again. Why the fuck not? - Before I had become a paranormal investigator, I had been a medical student. That career didn't really work out, but I still had my knowledge, and, more importantly, my equipment. I knew how much blood it was safe to drain and I had just what I needed to do it. But first, I needed the knife. I made my way to the back of my house, to my study, it wasn't very large and the books were mostly medical texts, but those weren't what I was looking for. There was a knife, mounted in a decorative stand, sitting on the desk. It had been a gift from a friend, and despite being ornate, was still perfectly sharp. I had made a point to sharpen it myself, every once in a while. I took it from its stand and looked at it. It was finely crafted, with a slightly curved blade and a bronzed handle. There was the shape of two brass gears over the handle, a traditional symbol of Athens, representing the steam powered machines that ran the city. What mattered wasn't the design; it was simply the finest knife I had. Returning to the dining room where I had set up my equipment, I fetched a bin just barely large enough to completely contain the knife, dropping the blade in. After priming the IV, I poked the syringe into my arm. Ignoring the pain, I counted the seconds as it flowed through the tube and began to fill to container with the knife. When the weapon was no longer visible, I stopped and pulled the syringe out and wrapped the wound. I let the blood sit for a moment, unsure of whether or not it took time for the "magic" to take effect. Then I realized how silly I was thinking like that, let alone for trying this in the first place. I used a hook to fish out the knife and watched the blood dripping off of it. It was totally drenched. Before I could give time myself time to hesitate, I rolled up my sleeve and made a quick, concise, just deep enough cut on my upper arm. Almost instantly, my vision dimmed and I had a feeling like butterflies in my stomach. Before I knew what was happening, I slid out of my chair, falling onto my side and hitting my head. I was blinded entirely for a couple seconds, but soon my vision returned. Still reeling, I shakily stood, noticing I was still clutching the knife in a deathgrip. I wrapped my new scar-to-be, cleaned up the blood, and put away my implements. Now, it was time to try this out. Crimson Mask is my most recent story, which I'm still writing currently. I plan for it to be longer than most of my other stories, and it's practically still in the prologue (albeit nearing the prologue's end). If you can't tell after reading it, it's a supernatural story of blood magic, angels, demons, and an anti-hero, set in the steampunk three-tiered city of Athens. Can't say too much about it, because spoilers. Those are all the stories I want to share (at least for now), but we're not done yet! I'm an amateur Fire Emblem spriter, making battle sprites and the occasional animation based on the style of the Fire Emblem GBA games. These don't require much explanation, just look: Sorry they're not transparent, but the forum I originally posted them on had a white background, so I didn't care enough to bother with it. That's all of my work I care to dump at the moment. More later, probably.