Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dyscrasia Fan-Fiction - The Village of the Blood Hills

The Village of the Blood Hills

by EEL Dec 2015 (this is the first ever fan fiction of Dyscrasia Fiction)
A.N. This story takes place after Spawn of Dyscrasia, in the flesh world that Helen and Lysis explore.

            As Helen surveyed the land, the inverse nature only appeared more grotesque. She swung her feet from where she sat on the wooden porch, partly built into the thick, wine colored blood flowing downstream. It terrified her to know what she really rested upon were the recycled corpses of the dryads, but, as they had told her earlier upon arriving to the tiny, secluded village, the flesh land had given them very little to build with. Therefore, when each nymph passed from age or battle, the bodies were reused for the sake of the community. The longer she remained in this demented land, she thought, the less it seemed to frighten her, despite her instincts screaming at her otherwise. As the time passed, searching for Master Echo, she had begun to assimilate culturally.
            Helen peered at the opposite bank, twisting a lock of stark-white hair around one finger. The flesh rose and fell in deep valleys, where the bottoms would gather blood as it trickled down the hills from disturbances in the thick layer of skin. Every once in a while, she could see the red sunlight glint off the fingernail formed cliffs in the distance, overlooking the lake where blood and tears met and turned the liquids rosy pink. There was an eye, too, buried into the side of a hill, bloodshot and the surrounding flesh purple and blue. Above it, a dryad’s tree struggled with the land to survive, roots digging into the eye socket, as the mossy green iris nearly disappeared while the pupil dilated.
            Yes, this world was strange.
            Helen gripped her staff. The wooden beads clanked as she stood up. Behind her, she could hear the dry, scratchy footsteps of a dryad, startling her from her daydreams.
            The dryad held up its hands in surrender, the long, gnarled, spindly fingers spread. Over her wooded body of twisted branches, strings of Spanish moss formed a thin covering, spotted with blue baby’s breath flowers. Huge, phosphorescent moss eyes glowed bright green. Around her neck were several polished and carved ivory necklaces.
            The nymph, Druantia, noticed Helen’s interest in the necklaces and the carvings. “Do you like them? There is a clan to the north who dig deep into the flesh in search of bone to carve and sell to other villages. It’s messy work, and costly, as the land never heals and turns into the murky swamplands of pus and blood and roughly covered skin, but it pays them well.”
            “The carvings are very pretty.” Helen scrutinized the small pictures on the bone. “What’s that?”
            “Oh, the creature?” Druantia peered at the serpentine, yet plant like monster depicted in mid-roar, the body of several Chromanti dangling from its mouth, others attempting to bring the creature down, only to be knocked back by the wide leaves. “It is the Venus, who live in the lake down river. It eats the flesh creatures foolish enough to get too close. If you watch long enough, you might be able to see it.”
            Helen pulled her cat pelt over her shoulders. She pointed in the opposing direction of the lake. “What about that, over there?”
            “The great mountain range is composed mostly of teeth of all sizes and shapes. Sometimes, you can find a gap in-between the larger teeth and live there. There is a village that trades with us jewelry and housewares, even just teeth with carved symbols. Here.” Druantia untied a leather pouch from her belt. Inside, Helen could see hundreds of teeth ranging from human size to that of a mouse. Each one was carved with intricate markings. Druantia took one from the bag. “This means spirit. It is a common symbol nowadays, to protect us as the Chromanti continue to wage war with the others in this world. Here, you can have it. To protect you on your travels.”
            Helen took the tooth. It appeared similar to the shape of a cat’s fang. Around the base and tip was a tiny, yet simple border, enclosing the elaborate and graceful swirls. She took the fang and began to work another braid into her hair, to put the fang in. “Thank you, Druantia.”
            “Anything. You kept the Queen of the Chromanti away from the village with your magic, you and your companion upon the giant ant. Do you know when Lord Lysis returns from scouting the villages downstream?”
            Helen shook her head. “No. He wishes to follow the trail further, see if Lord Echo is following the queen and her army. I don’t mind the wait, though. It gives me the chance to practice my magic, and add a few layers of protection around the village.” She closed her eyes, searching deep inside herself. Helen opened her scarred eye, surveying the land. She could see the wild, white fire forming a ring around the village, and the ghosts of the feline guardians enforcing her will. They patrolled the border, snarling at the quivering eye, digging their claws deep into the iris and tearing it apart. It would not surprise Helen if her spells would destroy the abomination.
            Her own cat spirit lay content by her side, purring and rubbing its tufted ears with one large paw. It was almost comical, such a creature capable of injury and of noble features acting like a common house cat. Helen smiled to herself.
            Then a small wisp of green caught her eye. She looked at her hair, where the fang now resided, tangled in her long locks. Apparently, it did contain magic of some sort, the shamrock colored energy wrapping around her like vines, keeping the darker forces at bay.
            Helen opened both eyes again, peering at the normal world. Instinctively, she turned to the grand lake. Overhead, a flesh reaper, its wings of stretched skin flapping sporadically, flew over the great expanse of tears. It released a skin-rendering screech.
            From under the lake, a deep rumble shook the landscape. Druantia smiled. “Just wait.” She said.
            The surface of the lake began to ripple. The flesh reaper sensed to danger it was in, and began to fly frantically towards the cliffs. However, from the lake sprang a gigantic plant springing from the depths, shaking blood and tears over the landscape. Its flat, green mouth, the inside pinky red from its recent kills, swooped up and snatched the flesh reaper from the sky. Behind her, Helen could hear the villagers stop to watch the spectacle.
            The Venus, once done with its meal, wasted no time folding up and resting on the bottom of the lake. The lake’s surface rippled; then began to settle.
            Yes, the land was strange, Helen thought to herself. But she had begun to grow used to the strangeness of it all.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sword & Sorcery Anthologies - Jan-Feb 2016 Groupread

Sword & Sorcery - Anthologies Jan-Feb 2016 Groupread: Wow, don't assume that anthologies of Sword & Sorcery only form the genre's roots! 2015 had at least three quality anthologies surface which are featured in the banner. Officially, the group read is Jan-Feb 2016, but start whenever you want. Treat yourself to a Holiday gift! Time to find new and established authors.  Below are the banner/cover art credits.

Discussion folder is open (link)!

Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters edited by Janet E. Morris ; Designed by Roy Mauritsen with "St. George" engraving by W.Roffe after a medallion by W.Wyon, published in the Art Journal, 1850.
Weirdbook 31 edited by Doug Draa; Front cover Dusan Kostic (Stephen Fabian’s back cover is shown here) 2015
Blackguards: Tales of Assassins, Mercenaries, and Rogues edited by J.M. Martin cover by , Arman Akopian 2015.
Heroika 1 Dragon Eaters (Heroika, #1) by Janet E. Morris Weirdbook 31 by Doug Draa Blackguards Tales of Assassins, Mercenaries, and Rogues by J.M. Martin 

Having difficulty choosing?
(1) . The group read Poll results offer a representative selection (link)

(2) Also browse a partial collection in our bookshelf (this is not rigorously maintained but may spark an connection) : Books in the group shelf marked Anthologies. (Feel welcome to add or update the meta data).

(3) There are many. Check out these great listings by GW Thomas:
(a) Anthologies and contents of each - 1963-1985
(b) Anthologies and contents of each - 1986-2008

Weirdbook31 back cover by S. Fabian 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Happy Holidays 2015 - Snow Flake Trapping Experiment - Lindberg Greeting Card

Happy Holidays and New Year too!

This year's theme is “snowflakes” – real ones. Due to winter's erratic precipitation and the self-imposed theme, we had to start early on this design--no snow would be present the months preceding card distribution (Aug-Nov) so we started in Feb 2015.  We were eventually successful. The snow flake design displayed on the card are actual shapes of flakes harvested and imprinted in West Chester Ohio. It took ~4 attempts, two of which were ~4AM since that is when the snow came. If interested in trapping snowflakes and learning how the card was made, then follow this link/blog post detailing to how this Snow Flake Card was made (previous 17 years of cards are displayed on Lindberg Craft Blog).  

Capturing Snow flakes 

0) Collect Snow Trap equipment: namely glass microscope slides (available via Amazon) & hair spray; put them in a garage to cool.

1) You need to have snow falling at the "right" rate/density: snow needs to be falling at a slow but steady rate.  Too much snow, and they do not imprint separately...not enough, and you won't catch enough on on your "snow trap" described below. This took several rounds of testing.

2) The snow trap consists of microscope slides coated with hair spray (cheers to Aquanet, the champion of 1980's hair styles!).  Most hairsprays are dissolved polymer solutions that, once exposed to atmosphere, evaporate allowing the polymers harden. Using "hot" (i.e. room temperature) hairspray will melt fresh snow.  Using cold/old coatings will not work since they will not be too dry or too hard to be imprinted. The trick is to coat the slides right before use with pre-cooled hairspray. Keep hair spray and slides in a cold place (i.e. garage); freshly spray the slides right before a snow event and lay them out in the yard.

3) Weigh down the slides on card board otherwise, wind (that often comes with snow) will flip your adhesive coated slides over...and you'll have mulch/debris embedded through out (tested that too).

4) Keep the slides cold as the water melts & polymer hardens: after harvesting the snow flakes, place them in a cold garage. If the snow is coming down heavy, you'll have to retrieve the slides before they get too covered. You need to let the polymer harden and dry before taking them into a warm house. Wait for the snowflakes to melt/evaporate.

5) Image these via (a) a photographic macro-lens with the flakes are still present.... or (b) via a microscope after the flakes melted and evaporated (leaving their image in cast). You'll see that many flakes are only half embedded or overlap.  The camera used on the scope is monochrome which reflects the colorless imprint.  Simple bright-field imaging is used.

Monochrome Raw Data 

7) Faux-color in Photoshop & Font Battle:  These monochrome images are now doctored up in Photoshop with lots of false coloring, masking, and layering options; a number of the snowflakes are isolated atop a template provided from (one of many online printers screenshot below). Art Director Heidi may initiate a war over appropriate fonts, and you should expect to lose. My blocky carved ice letters were "not right for this project" and I was convinced to follow her advice to use a sleek font instead. Erin and Connor concur with mother as per their training. The next battle is with the computer to ensure the printing of CMYK reflects the RGB coloring; this is resolved via opening & exporting the template in Adobe Illustrator (see variety of blues/cyans below). The template is made read for printing.  A proof confirms all is well. 

Team Lindberg Update

2015 had Connor growing taller than his dad (he's now 6 feet tall at 13yrs of age, cripes). Erin, Connor and Dad were promoted in the Kyu ranks in Aikido (Mushinkan Dojo in Liberty Township under Sensei Domaschko...a great place to learn self-defense without striking/harming your opponent…highly recommended to all).  Heidi ramped up her photography hobby to the point she is beginning to take portraits for clients (family photos, Linkedin head shots, & pet portraits). Dad continued pressing his writing hobby and saw his first short story appear in an anthology Heroika: Dragon Eaters (17 authors chronicle the killing of serpents across as many centuries--Seth covered ancient Egypt); also audio books for Seth's dark fiction were released thanks to voice professionals found via Amazon's ACX service. 2016 promises to be fun, as Team Lindberg tackles crazy artistic endeavors!

Best to all, Seth, Heidi, Erin, and Connor (Shorty & Sweetie too)