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♦♦♦♦♦

“After all, rarely do the men who orchestrate wars find themselves holding the instruments. It's those holding the instruments, you see, they go and they die, they die at each others hands, and all their familiars and relations they weep and they cry revenge, and then the whole thing's sunk. Then the whole thing is personal, and if it lasts long enough it is cultural, and then for all the original maestros may wish most dearly to cease the thing it is too late, don't you see. The match is lit, the throat, is slit.”

Private Lanson squirmed, still adjusting to his heavy standard-issue boots, belts, and helm. The drawling voice in the shadow had been going in this vein for a good ten minutes and it hadn't helped him settle into his uniform one bit.

“Wars are fought for other people. For crowns and cravats who failed to keep the peace with words. And also for the dead. Funny thing, that.”

A pebble whizzed from the shadow, expertly pinging off a shop sign and into a tin bucket on the curbside. A snort of satisfaction. Lanson looked back at the figure he was terrified and disbelieving to have found himself in conversation with.

Lanson, like a great deal of Helleckens, knew the infamous being on sight. He was a crooked fellow, every angle of him seemed twice broken, from his heavy nose to his restless talons to his wicked, wicked mouth. Desperately thin, his dark, ragged garb hung from him like swamp moss off a dead tree. He lounged easily in the recess of a boarded-up window, long legs crossed, bare feet against the dirty bricks, displaying highly unpleasant clawed nails unfortunately near the private's head.

“Well, soldier? What are you serving time for, eh? Love of king? Of country? The dead?”  

Lanson swallowed. “Dropped out of too many schools, sir. Father says the ranks will set me right, sir.”

The man laughed like an angel being washboarded. “Oh did he? Oh, that will be the last thing it will do, boy, the last thing...”

For all he wasn't excited to be shot at, Lanson had rather invested hope in his father's suggestion that armor might suit him better than a scholar's robes. The past four weeks' training in the city had been wet, shivery, chafing, stinking and ill-fitting, but he'd been assured it was not like this Afield, where there was space and clean air and it was all like a more exciting sort of camping, really, Afield, and that he felt he could do. Cringing as he was, his underdeveloped pride was ruffled by the man's lack of confidence.

“But aren't you a soldier yourself these days, sir? I mean, not a soldier but a... you know, a special fighter... person...” Lanson's momentary burst of courage crumbled like cheese as the red-green eyes of the man narrowed lazily at his flexing fingers.

“Royal Mercenary, I'll think you mean.”

“But you just told me,” Lanson's voice lowered furtively, “that all nobility are junk and we shouldn't fight their battles and call them by titles. Sir.”

“AAALL NOBILITY ARE JUUUNK,” the man sang out grandly still admiring his talons, “WE SHOULDN'T FIGHT THEIR BAAA-TTLES AND CALL THEM TIII-TLLLES.”

Lanson had all but sucked up into his helmet with shock. His wide eyes flicked up-down the street, empty save for pigeons spooked into the evening air.

“Speak up when you speak what you mean, Private, lest your superiors begin believing they are. Oh, I have little love for the powers that be, and this they know beyond doubt. Consider that I may find myself, temporarily in their service for a very good reason, hm?”

The man's voice had taken on a edge. Lanson stood very still. A ruddy eye swiveled to his.

Oh.

The warlock had only struck up a conversation with the poor lad because, well, to be honest he was bored. But the young man had also seemed bored, and anxious, and the burst of golden hair escaping from under his foul helmet had quite reminded him of his brother.

Despite the countless counts of gleeful arson, theft, murder, general terrorism, and most inconceivable cheek which had made him an international boogie man and ultimately grounded him in blatantly unpenitent servitude of the Kingdom of Tresin, Master Shapeshifter Morgan Daubenmire had an enormous soft spot for children. Of course he did! His miraculous ability to twist into any shape at will was something that unnerved and frightened adults, who never knew what to make of him, but kids knew what to make of him instinctively.

And literally. The game that without fail brought joy to even the most timid child was the classic animal impression romp. Only, no one does impressions quite like Daubenmire. For children, the monstrous shapeshifter would become bouncing hamsters, colorful parrots, a warm ball of bunny, or a terrible lion or dragon which would roll on its back like a fool until the smiles came. To children he was a one-man menagerie and a thing of wonder, to adults he was a weapon and a criminal. To in-betweens like Lanson... perhaps he could still sway opinion.

He held the frozen soldier's gaze. He wasn't doing the best job with this. His once carefully-cultivated reputation as something of a living nightmare had been making his recent attempts to rejoin polite society... uphill.    

The reddish eyes shut as if to reset, then opened with a smile. Morgan twirled off his perch and onto his feet, pitching another pebble into the bucket. He saw Lanson force himself not to take a step back from him.

“Where be your station, Private?”

“Limer, sir. Twenty minute's walk and I'm near due to check in, so I'd really best be going, sir.”

“Twenty minutes?” the shapeshifter drawled, rolling another pebble between his fingers. He grinned. “How'd you like to make it in two?”

----------

Morgan Daubenmire. The faceless, omnipresent terror of soldiers across the continent. Three summers ago he rose out of nowhere, an uninvited player in the war, striking either side freely, a single force like no-one had ever seen.

At first they said he was an ancient demon, this thing of a hundred thousand forms, a malevolent spirit of nature awakened by one too many decades of violence. Some said he was a master warlock sent from across the sea to further destabilize the continent. After myriad encounters with the monster, the only widely agreed-on point across all parties was that he was a prick. A gleeful, rotten thing of lazy, self-satisfied malice.

It began with the mysterious mass arson of stockades, bridges, and ferries by a single common lowland drake. Dragons rarely take an interest in methodically cutting vital military supply chains, but it wasn't until soldiers witnessed the beast collapse into a man's shape that the rogue dragon was revealed to be a shapeshifter with a vendetta against humanity.

Also, they were told so.

Go home, the shapeshifter ordered at every appearance, refuse your governors and your generals, forget your enemies, or you will suffer an opponent you cannot fight.

The threats, although unsettling to some, were ignored. How could soldiers 'just go home?' What kind of simplistic being was this?

A simplistic being that was learning fast. Soon, captains and commanders were in mortal fear of stepping outside their camps lest a chipmunk explode into a hideous monster and spirit them away for ransom. Precious documents, orders, and communication relics were snatched from chests and desks by racoons and birds. Carrier pigeons were being eaten like candy. Untold heaps of woodland creatures were shot on sight by paranoid soldiers.

It was long the shapeshifter's secret that as well as the bodies of beasts he could assume an endless array of human forms, vanishing into the ranks to spread rumors and dissent, delivering false reports, even passably impersonating individuals. This thing was single-handedly snagging incredible knots in the fabric of the fighting, halting a battle here and there, but never the war.

And then people started to die. First there were the odd assassinations. Then the monster got lazy. Great circles would be burned into forests, cruelly spiraling inwards and incinerating whole camps. An enormous winged creature would descend into the flaming chaos and lay about itself, telepathically cackling, screaming, and generally broadcasting its abhorrence, its abhorrence of the violence of men.    

---------

Limer Station was a long, squat conjoining of barracks, smithing yard, mess hall, and stables, curved like a horseshoe around a large courtyard. It was housing for both city soldiers transferring to the army and troops returning to city service, so that the two might mix and educate one another on the state of either arena before trading places.

On a warm evening like this, the courtyard was crowded with soldiers. Most were having supper, ladled out of the colossal pot over the central fire pit and tapped foaming from great oak casks. They talked over the heavy tables and wove through the weapon racks which littered the yard. Some sprawled on hay bales servicing their weapons, while others sparred watched by opinionated rings of onlookers.

Just as the sun was falling behind the city wall, all throughout the courtyard certain soldiers, older soldiers, began laying about themselves, hushing their comrades and searching the purpling sky anxiously. Don't you hear it? They hissed. Open your ears, will you, can't you hear it? Gods, don't you hear it in your blood? We are meat, keep an eye on the sky!

FOOM

FOOM


FOOM


Heads were turning west and voices were dropping as the huge, soft sound pulsed nearer. What wa-

FOOM


Dust and hay exploded into the sky, hats abandoned their owners, a few spear racks toppled over in the sudden powerful, pulsing downdrafts as a thing swooped high above the yard, beating its vast wings, hovering. Soldiers dodged out of the center of the yard as the thing dropped, landing heavily on the stones with a final flap. It folded its wings daintily and flipped its long head over its shoulder as the small figure of Lanson slid down its back, catching him in its tail and depositing him neatly on the ground. It grinned.

“Oh gods,” Lanson said shakily. “Whoa.”

“Bad as you expected?” Morgan the dragon asked.

“Worse. Waaay worse.” Lanson panted. Then his mouth broke into a mad half-grin. “That was... wow, I never imagined I'd... I mean, I can see why you... why you...” He suddenly became conscious that he was being stared at by nearly eighty people. His mouth flapped silently, then he looked up at the big head. “Uh, thank you, sir. For the lift.” At an ostentatiously gracious nod from the monster, Lansen headed towards the barracks.

This wasn't the first or even the fifth time Daubenmire had visited this particular station, and a number of the soldiers turned back to their meals and weapons. The cook, a grizzled, unflappable man with a face cut in more places than a side of ham yelled at Lanson as he scurried past.

“'Ey! O'er 'ere for your supper, lad, or you'll go without.”

The dragon watched the young soldier receive his stew and drink. Lanson shot the shapeshifter one last nervous smile before disappearing into the crowd. Morgan sniffed the air longingly with plate-sized, slightly glowing nostrils.

The cook rapped his ladle clean on the pot. “This's the last batch of the night,” he said, as if idly speaking to himself and not a five-ton hulk of winged dinosaur a few mere meters from his fire. “Won't keep forever, y'know. Might as well finish it off for me, will ya.”

Daubenmire slunk forward gratefully, claws clicking on the paving. He sprawled before the big pot and cracked open his jaws, nearly lowering his mouth over the thing, sighed heavily, flames slithering from between his teeth, and the stew bubbled. He lapped it up happily, eyes roving lazily around the courtyard denizens, all of whom quickly found something to be busy with.

The monster chatted quietly with the cook and the station commander for a while about who was moving out in the morning and where, the prospects of certain contested regions, and which towns had been burned to a cinder recently. Great slitted eyes passed over the soldiers, lit now by ruddy torches and moonlight. Some of these men and boys will be dead next week, he mused, for the thousandth time. Will it be you, there, with the patchy sideburns? Or you, sir, trying to attach your bayonet wrong-way around? Will it be- oh gods- you're only a child, lad, what fate would send the likes of you here? Or...

His gaze ran up against a burning stare. He was accustom to angry faces, but this one was smoldering with above and beyond the malice he'd encountered in some time.

Time to be moving on.

He twirled his long tongue once around the empty pot, licked his chops, thanked the cook, heaved himself onto his hind legs, began to open his wings...

“Daubenmire!”

The wings froze.

One big eye peered down from over the dragon's shoulder. “Yeah, I see you, soldier,” he spat. “Shared some battlefield, did we?”

The man, broad-shouldered and black-haired, glared upwards. Two friends stood resolutely and reluctantly behind him. He spoke with a heavy, husky, heaving voice.

“You killed my brother.”

The shapeshifter twisted around slowly, talons wide as tables scratching on the paving. He was a great black towering thing, half-obscured against the night sky, lit by torches below and by the glow down his own fiery throat, a throat that could vanish a horse.

“A soldier?”

The man nodded tightly.

“Occupational hazard of warriors, dying in wars.”

The two soldiers twitched as their friend nearly stepped forward.

“Here stands the only man to lose family in this war,” the dragon continued lazily to the stars. He cocked his head back down. “Is that it?” The man continued to steam, trembling. “I know. I know how it is. Were I to meet the murderer of my brother I'd not be half as civil.”

The dragon moved to turn away but twisted back quickly, hunched over testily. “Clearly, nothing I could say matters, so I'm not going to beg your pardon.” He dropped his voice to a rumble. “But you have my regrets.”

“REGRETS?!” The soldier erupted. “Your REGRETS? You LAUGHED!” He roared. “With those teeth,” he stabbed a shaking arm at Morgan, “with THOSE TEETH you tore him apart! Arthur died in your jaws, YOU BEAST!”

Onlookers were handling their weapons and backing away. One of the men dropped a hand on the incensed man's shoulder and began to speak, but he shook him off, staring furiously up at his impossible enemy.

Morgan frowned. Soldiers backed out of his path as he dropped to all fours and prowled towards the three, tail weaving behind like a monster python, huge wings lurking over his shoulders. The dragon came up close, more than close enough to see the man's red, red eyes. He began to circle the trio.

“Tell, me,” he said, “soldier, have ya killed anyone? You're a poor hand at your profession if you haven't.” His words dripped from his jaws. “And I suppose those men weren't anyone's brothers? Eh? Or fathers or sons or lovers? But you, you're perfectly blameless, aren't ya?” He reared abruptly onto his hind legs, scanning the courtyard. “Every seasoned soldier here has killed and every one of us murderers deserves to fry. But I,” he spread a talon over his chest, “I am a monster. I,” he met the man's eyes, “am a monster.”

He continued. “General Kerntoat once fought for your enemies, and he's a bloody hero! Colonel Shiner was a weapon-running crook but now it's funny. Defected soldiers who've joined your ranks are welcomed with open arms. But I, I who fought on no-one's side, who fought for myself, not in cold blood for some stranger in a castle, I fight for you now and I am treated like a b-”

There was a sudden racket as Daubenmire's tail upturned a spear rack. A huge eye twitched as he snatched up the offending tail and throttled it. “Blast this infernal...” He threw the tail behind him and in the same motion the tail became part of a sweeping cloak as the warlock shrunk to his human shape. He stalked up to the furious soldier, who was taller than him by a head and twice as broad. The friends were actually gripping his arms now, as he clenched his fists, clenched his teeth, clenched his whole body. Morgan eyed him.

“Would it bring him back?” He said quietly.

His sunken eyes swiveled to the other soldiers. “Let him go.” They did.

The man rolled his shoulders. He inhaled shakily, the stink of dragon still in the air. Abruptly, he screamed and slammed his fist into Morgan face, sending the shapeshifter reeling, thin fingers clutching a gushing nose. Other soldiers rushed to restrain the man, who struggled.

“Feels good, doesn't it?!” He roared.

Morgan chuckled under his hand as he straightened, wincing. The crooked corner of his smile could just be seen under the thick blood.

“Let him go,” he said again, waving his free hand. The other soldiers looked at one another, then back at Morgan. They gripped the struggling man tighter.

⚞ LET'IM GO I SAY ⚟


A thunderclap of telepathy reinforced Daubenmire's command, staggering the closer soldiers. Hands dropped.

The soldier, completely seeing red, seized Morgan by the collar and hair and slammed him against a wall. He yanked his head back. “Arthur! My brother!” Spit flew into Morgan's bloodied face. “We'll never see him! I oughta rip your g'damned head off!”

“If,” Morgan croaked, “it'll bring your brother back, you'd best do it.”

With a roar, the soldier punched him in the gut and hurled him to the ground. He circled him. The warlock sprawled on the stones, forehead resting on an arm, bleeding and panting. The man screamed again and pounded a table, his mouth opening soundlessly again and again, choking. He fell to his knees and sobbed.

The soldiers watched the two collapsed men in silence.

Daubenmire lifted his head to the man, drooling blood. He wriggled closer, holding his ribs.

“Look,” he said, almost certainly audible to the howling man, “I joined this fight when some bastard killed my beloved, I've not been the same since. Because of his death, I killed your brother. And because I killed your brother, you'll kill Poldians in the morning. Can't you see? Can't anyone see... what we're doing?”

Two figures were hurrying across the courtyard with a torch.

“Morgan?” A tall woman in armor called, spying the bloodied warlock. “Oh, shi-” She knelt down and heaved him to his feet. The heavily-freckled man she was with helped support him. The spell cast by watching an ordinary man beat the daylights out of one of the single most powerful individuals in the world was broken, and soldiers rushed in to lead their comrade to the barracks as the two newcomers helped Morgan limp away across the courtyard.

“You're a sorry sight, Morgan.” Kathryn said.

“It's nothing, nothing Magda can't fix,” he coughed. “Some things can be fixed,” he added.

She shook her head. “What did that guy do to you?”

“What did you do to that guy?” Trick asked. “Not a cut on him, only blood on him is yours, and he was sobbin' like a baby!”

The shapeshifter dropped his eyes.


What did I do to him indeed.

♦♦♦♦♦


Morgan tries out a new approach to dealing with hecklers. No, it's not become-a-fifty-foot-fire-filled-dinosaur-right-in-front-of-their-faces. That sort of behavior is what got Morgan into his current predicament, and why perfect strangers sometimes walk up to him and attempt to smash his face in with paving stones. Or at least, they fantasize about it (see 'ability to become fifty feet of fire-filled dinosaur').  

Kathyrn and Trick are close buds of Morgan and Magda and part of the wider Hellecker cast I've been totally denying you for years now. Someday, guys. Kat is a badass mercenary and Trick lives right up to his name. 
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:iconartst04:
artst04 Featured By Owner May 6, 2015
Would love.to see Kathryn and Trick in action.
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner May 6, 2015
Me too, me too.
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:iconartst04:
artst04 Featured By Owner May 6, 2015
I've never claimed to be a writer but I do enjoy a good story even small bits like yours.
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:iconmyoneandonly:
myoneandonly Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2014  Professional Filmographer
Have I not commented on this yet? Goodness gracious.

Well if it's not your art sweeping me off my feet, it's your writing. Unbelievable. Just when I think my love for that kooky Daubenmire can't grow anymore, it does so tenfold. I can't get over how complex he is.

(Also, General Kerntoat. Very clever.)
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:icondemonlog:
DemonLog Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2014  Hobbyist
Fiiiiinally got around to reading this.  And I can say with sincerity that I would read the shit out of a novel of this sort.
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2014
Haha! *fistpump* Glad to hear it! And thank you for readin' the thing!
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:icondemonlog:
DemonLog Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2014  Hobbyist
I've really enjoyed your informative writing on your world and lore, so I figured I ought to set this aside until I had time to read it, too.  It's definitely a different style, but totally worth it.  I loved the imagery, the character interactions, and seeing Morgan's inner workings in dealing with difficult situations.  Even with as short as I've been following your art, from previous pictures of him, I can see the evolution and maturing of his conflict resolution skills and techniques.
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:iconamiacon:
Amiacon Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Holy crap, I love Morgan so much. I'm fairly new to your following, but he's been my favorite without knowing any more than he's a shapeshifting jerk. Every time I learn a little more about your cast, it's just... wow. Magnificent storytelling here and always.
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:iconflamelz:
Flamelz Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2014
This is really good! I love Morgan, and it's good to see a few of the other characters about that he's interacted with in the past. Your writing is very expressive. Love the use of the word 'vanish', particularity.
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:iconserenity279:
Serenity279 Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2014
hey this is fantastic! I can't wait for me; keep up the good work :aww:
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:iconcaptainee-lla1792:
CaptainEe-lla1792 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2014
Best short I've read in a long time. Very enjoyable, I look forward to more meetings with these characters <3
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:iconcanadian-rainwater:
Canadian-Rainwater Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2014  Professional Filmographer
Oooohhhhh! I need to read more of your writing, this was really intense and enjoyable to read, and I love your characters and want to know more about them.
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:iconcalliscribbles:
CalliScribbles Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2014
Yeah, people are much braver when you aren't currently a dragon.
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2014
Yeah, that wasn't really a smart move, but he meant well.
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:icontheantimonyelement:
TheAntimonyElement Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Beloved?! Morgan had a beloved? Now I'm *really* intrigued...
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2014
He did, he did! Aaron was his name. I think I've only ever mentioned that story once, on this post... fav.me/d61o1ra
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:iconartst04:
artst04 Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
Interesting. Engaging. Damn I wish you had a book out! A graphic novel Something besides the short bits of awesomeness that is your writing! OK I'm done
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:iconweaver8:
Weaver8 Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Student Writer
:heart: I really rather loved this. The way in which Morgan circled about the soldier, metaphorically I mean, speaking about the pointlessness of the situation that both he and everyone in this war were in. He is a very calculating, and strangely thoughtful person. At least in this point in his life. Also interesting that he's good with children. Huh. 

Also this line, " the only widely agreed-on point across all parties was that he was a prick" This just made me laugh. Unfortunate since there are some people sleeping a few rooms away. Whoops :blush:

Thank you for this, :huggle:
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:icondaughter-of-shadow:
Daughter-of-Shadow Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
If you are in the mood to write a bunch of snippets about Morgan, I am begging you to do so.  He may be my favorite character of yours.  :D
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
Aw! I may have to do so, he's possibly my favorite character to write with. Come to think of it, I may in fact have some such snippets- though very small snippets- lying around I should excavate and see if they're worth expanding on. Anyhoo! Thank you, and thank you for reading! 
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:iconbjezerey:
bjezerey Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
This was delightful. I'm sorry I put off reading it as long as I did.
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
Glad to hear it! Thanks for readin' the thing. :)
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:iconvictorian-lover:
Victorian-Lover Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow... this... is amazing! I used to be sort of iffy about Morgan, but now... I'm speechless.  Not only is this logic sound, it's emotional and wonderful, and reads deeper into Morgan's personality than what I (as an individual) have seen.
Your voice... your voice as a writer, is also amazing. I love in the first paragraph how you say, "The match is lit, the throat is slit." It's very poetic and singsong, and the rest of your writing seems to give off that same singsong voice (if this is a reference that I don't get, it's still amazing and my previous comment is still sound.) 
The emotion in it, as well, it's very real. True rage usually breaks away into deep sorrow, and you capture this abrupt end incredibly.
Bravo. 
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
Iffy in what way, might I ask? I sometimes wonder if I'm doing a good job accurately presenting characters the way I know them through the tidbits I share on dA.

Ah, yeah, for example, that Morgan is more than a power-drunk goofball monster thing, he has strong political and societal convictions that drive most of his actions, both impeded and fueled by a surprisingly keen sense of empathy. 

Not a reference, Morgan just talks like that. Singsong is exactly how he should sound, so this is good stuff to hear. I'm also relieved the soldier's responses to the situation came across as realistic, fury and agony are easy to... overplay? But they are dramatic emotions to start with, so balancing that with not sounding melodramatic is apparently tricky business, see daytime television.

Thank you for your thoughtful comment and for taking the time to read this! 
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:iconvictorian-lover:
Victorian-Lover Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Ah, iffy as in he's sort of conveyed as you described him, power drunk, goofball, but underhandedly a good-ish person. XD I haven't been following you very long and this is the first writing tidbit I've seen. :P Also, he sort of reminds me of one of my own characters, who just so happens to be a narcissistic melodramatic bastard, with which I have a love-hate relationship with.
 
I'm glad it wasn't a reference, honestly, because I make it a habit to know every reference I possibly can. A lifelong quest that is meaningless in the long run, but I still don't care. XP And I have the same trouble with writing rage and frustration as well. For me, I often act it out (in my room alone) in front of my mirror to see if I look as ridiculous as those tv shows, and listen to myself as I think through the words they would say. I think it helps, but I've been in a sort of 'writing passivity' over the past few months and I just got out of it. I actually felt a lot of empathy towards the guard, though at the same time Morgan succeeded in making his rage seem foolish and pointless. (again, bravo).

And you're welcome! ^-^ I always like to look, read, or just stare in awe at your amazing works! 

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:iconthecuttestpuppy:
thecuttestpuppy Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
Need to read this again when I have more time but the thoughts in the dialogues about killing and wars. It's deep and powerful. When this Hellecker is finished somewhen in the future it will be stunning work of art.
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
Gosh, thank you! Heh, and Morgan is our resident hippie, unlikely as it seems. I tend to agree with him on the hopelessness of an eye-for-an-eye world, however we both see that a pure turn-the-other-cheek philosophy is not only senseless but potentially deadly in the face of unreasonable and/or intensely selfish foes. How to fix the world, how to fix the world...
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:iconsilvariakiralv:
SilvariaKiralv Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I would throw money at you for stories like this. Your characters have had me enthralled since I found you. Here's hoping circumstances allow for you to write more, someday soon. :)
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
Pfft! Goodness, thank you. XD I'm glad you've been enjoying the ride!

I'm adjusting to the thought that I'm losing the fight to keep drawing at home as well as at work, on account of my hand just not being able to take the constant abuse. If nothing else, this may finally push me to start exploring my characters more through writing, so you may be getting your wish! (: 
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:iconsilvariakiralv:
SilvariaKiralv Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes, with this story, Morgan has jumped up to the first spot on my list of favorites, which had previously been held by Vlad because I have a soft spot for necromancers. And your writing is great. I really enjoyed the style this was written in!

It is sad news that your hand has been troubling you that much. I wonder if you get a chunk of story written down, if you couldn't do some sort of kickstarter campaign to get living and production funds to produce actual physical material such as books and comics (if that would interest you)? There's a comic I follow called Ava's Demon who did something similar. The creator was unhappy with the amount of time she could spend on the story, and rallied her fans for a chunk of startup money to make it her full-time job.

But no matter what, it really has been a lot of fun learning more about your characters. C: I sincerely hope you can come to a livable compromise... And if not that, then at least something close.
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:iconmblackwood:
MBlackwood Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Student Filmographer
I now have entirely too many Morgan feels and Hellecken soldier feels and feels in general and it's entirely your fault.

Dangit, why can I not quit your awesome works.
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
Aw! The feeeels! *flails* I know, I know. I like to write feels-inducing nonsense. Catharsis, it's good for what ails ya. :ahoy:

Thanks for reading, you!
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:iconshendin:
Shendin Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Oh yes I like this! I can totally see Morgan strutting around the campsight as this big frightening dragon! Love the language.

*Spoilers*
Though...I found it a little abrupt when Morgan suddenly let the soldier beat the everliving crap out of him. Granted, I was kind of half-reading, half paying attention to a lecture, so maybe it wouldn't seem so sudden if I actually sat down with this more.
/Spoilers

Either way, I love it! I want to see more! :D 
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
Hey, thank you! He does love to strut his stuff as a monster, and then he wonders why people are afraid of him...

It does seem abrupt, I'm with you there. I actually had some more padding in there in my draft of this, but it seemed like Morgan had already done a lot of talking. To be honest, I don't think he actually expected the guy to throw a punch, so it should seem like a sudden turn of events, although if it reads awkwardly then that's not good! Hm, thoughts on pacing that better?

Thanks for taking a moment out of your busy class schedule to read this! Morgan would be tickled to know his little story robbed you of a tiny piece of your hard-earned college education. As someone who actually went to college, I hope it was a useful tool for escaping the doldrums of the lecture hall for a few minutes. (:  
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:iconshendin:
Shendin Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
I give credit to Morgan for successfully distracting me from my most interesting class! Talk about divided attention...lecture, or Morgan...?

My thoughts? I reread it a little bit, and I guess my attention was just too divided at the time, because now it doesn't seem as sudden to me. However, I do think the change in Morgan's disposition is kind of abrupt. To me it seems like this is trying to explain the dynamic personality of "Master Shapeshifter Morgan Daubenmire vs. Morgan Foust" in the length of a short chapter, and it feels a bit jerky because Morgan's a really deep character with a lot of layers to him. In my experience, these kinds of characters need maaaany different situations for them to reveal themselves in full to the reader, otherwise it seem like it's being spelled out.

But that's kind of a broader critique. I mean, I condense stuff all the time in my vignettes like this, so I get where you're coming from. :)
This took too long to write...Go me for not be able to collect my thoughts.

I still like this a ton though (partly because Morgan's one of my favorite characters ever)! I just thought I'd share my thoughts because I care! :dummy:
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:iconcomedic44:
Comedic44 Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:iconbravoplz: I enjoyed reading this more than a best-seller. Brilliant writing, brilliant characters. I hope to see your name on a book perched on my shelf someday.
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
*squirms* Oh, you. Thanks for readin'!
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:iconcomedic44:
Comedic44 Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
How could I not? I saw fire angry men and an iconoclastic dragon. 


And it was everything I hoped it would beeeeee...
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:iconbellasylph:
BellaSylph Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist

Trick lives right up to his name.
This I want to see! Great story btw.
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
He matches Morgan's mischief stride for stride, they are a fearsome pair of pranksters! Nothing is serious nor sacred when they get going. Magda hates them both.

Thank you! And thanks for reading!
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:iconbellasylph:
BellaSylph Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh that is AWESOME!! I cannot wait.

You're welcome and thanks to SAK for introducing me to your gallery. *looks for more Morgan stuff*
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:iconaranov:
Aranov Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
Morgan is becoming more and more entrenched as my favorite character of yours, the jerk. :heart: I want to hug him a lot right now.
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
He is jerk, but we love him. Please do give him hugs, but maybe put on something you don't mind having bloodstains on first. (: Thank you for reading! 

Also, I'm finding the quote in your signature really quite interesting. Actually, I just went and read the poem. Wow, can you imagine hand-to-hand combat like that? You hear about how haunted people become after having shot someone else in war today, I forget how insanely brutal and brave people must have been centuries and centuries ago to fight battles by shoving pointed sticks through each other at close range. (Maybe this shows how first-world I am to be thinking that this doesn't still go on in many places today.) Anyway, interesting thought, in those lines, on what we can become when we're hopelessly cornered.
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:iconaranov:
Aranov Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
Oh, bloodstains. Yes. Good point.

It really is fascinating, and kind of revolting at the same time, but for me it really brings up interesting questions about technology insulating us from death. The Mongols killed millions of people by lining them up and assigning each soldier to kill a certain number of prisoners, which is astoundingly gut-wrenchingly /personal/ compared to, for example, the gas chambers of the Holocaust. It's really an entirely different world from the place where the most killing most of us have ever done is something like hitting a squirrel with your car. I'm not sure I want to find out what circumstances it would take to drive me to that level of self-defense.
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:iconshenachie:
Shenachie Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
That was a delightful read!
So nice to see a deeper, subtler side to prankster Morgan rendered in your inimitable writing style. Looking forward to seeing and learning more about Kathryn and Trick.
:ahoy:
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
Thank you as ever for readin' my things!

Yesss, there is a lot more to Morgan than prancing around like a self-satisfied moron. Mostly I feel like I forget to share this. He's definitely one of my more faceted characters, which I hate because it would probably take the course of a book to properly explain who he is and where he's coming from, and which he knows full well and continues becoming complicated in an effort to make me write his story down. Naaargh! I just wanna sleep and stuff, leeme alone! *clobbers with pillow*   

I'm sure Kat and Trick and the rest of the crew would appreciate existing properly one day soon, so we may have to make this a thing.
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:iconlollymote:
Lollymote Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Student General Artist
Kerntoat made me laugh. xD But the picture at the top won't load. ;n;
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
Oh? Why? (Was wondering if anyone would see what I did there.)

Uh oh. Still not loading for you now? I was kind of amazed dA allows images in written posts now, but fully expecting it not to work very well. I also modified it with some code that may well freak out certain browsers...
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:iconlollymote:
Lollymote Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Student General Artist
I can't say for certain, but I think it had something to do with the way my brain registered it as a made-up, yet familiar name, then I read what it was that Kerntoat did, and suddenly it clicked. xD

Also, thank you for uploading the picture separately - even though it's been who-knows-how-long since I last tried loading the picture in the literature file, it STILL doesn't work. :o
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:iconsynaesthetic1:
Synaesthetic1 Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014
GAH YOU DAMN TEASE..... Pardon me, that was other guy. MOre. Just... More. The story is brilliant, the characters are pasionately mad, and in the end you are getting better every time I look. So keep going, keep screwing up, because if we keep getting this we are priveleged schmucks indeed. :D
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