Cassandra sits seductively on her favorite tank, ready to raise hell. Her heart is filled with a burning vengeance. There's no doubt she's heading straight for Cloud Nine in an attempt to take out Blacktalon's lackeys. For her, the prospect of taking over the Isles is an exciting one. Lunati and Tacoma aren't thrilled with the possibility of their home being destroyed, even if the Cirrus Cartel stole it for their own nefarious means. They'll need to find a way to convince Cassandra not to open fire before it's too late.
This week's piece is a pixel tribute to our big bad, Cassandra Chaotica, Queen of the Zengre. It was sketched and shaded entirely in microsoft paint. Lately I've been in a bit of a slump, so I needed something comforting to draw to distract from the overwhelming calamity of the present day.
Recently, Cassandra's hair color and markings have been modified to help her stand apart from the blue-haired heroes of our story. I think purple suits her well. Lunati helped me sample different palettes before we came to an agreement on what would work best for her. Overall, I'm happy with the change.
We're into september and I mentioned in my last post that I'd be unable to take on new commissions until now. While I do have some free slots open for sprites and pixel art (including furcadia patches), I've still got a backlog of full-color digital pieces that need to be wrapped up soon. I'm reluctant to take any new digital commissions until those are finished. Thank you to my past and present clients, I appreciate anyone who's kept me busy with some work these last few months.
It's been two months since my last update and I feel like such a long break deserves an explanation. My goal this year has been to release an update every week, or at least every two weeks if I got tied up somehow. So what on earth delayed an update by nine weeks?
This year, Lunati and I came to the realization that we could no longer live in Minneapolis. She lost a steady, 10-year career and savings had been steadily wiped out by rent, bills and survival. Our neighborhood was also becoming more dangerous and I didn't feel safe going out alone anymore. With the high cost of living in the city, we barely kept our heads above water. We had to think fast if we ever wanted to turn this situation around.
Florida had been home for most of my life. It's where I was born and spent much of my adult life so we fully expected to be moving back there eventually. When we shared our plans with family and friends, we received an outpouring of love and support. Lunati spent all her unemployed time looking for work with no success, her main ties to the state were now gone and we had to act quick.
It was apparent that we needed to jump on this opportunity while we still could. If we stayed in minnesota, we'd be homeless by september so we spent the next couple of months packing up our place and getting affairs in order to help make the transition as smooth as possible. An old friend of mine offered to let us stay with him while we got back on our feet.
On July 31st, we packed our bags and took our two cats on the 3 hour flight to tampa from minneapolis. We'd sacrificed so much for this opportunity but I knew in my heart we were doing the right thing. I felt a combination of pure exhaustion and relief, knowing we'd worked hard for a shot at making our lives better together. Lunati is confident that she'll be able to get her driver's license and find work. I'm hopeful that I'll have more time to work on personal projects instead of taking on commission after commission just to make ends meet.
It's worth mentioning that I won't be able to accept any new commissions until the mayhem dies down. Almost every day since the move has had some big event or distraction in store for us, so we'll need a few weeks to adjust to all the new changes in our lives. I'd like to say that I can re-open commissions by september but I'm notoriously bad with deadlines.
Now that Lunati and I are settled in, I plan on posting here more frequently when we can find a break in the storm that has consumed our lives. Despite all the madness, stress of moving and adjusting to life with a roommate, we've found a small glimmer of happiness here that was missing for a long time and I'm confident we'll be able to rebuild our lives and get our own place within a year.
The next update will likely have some more character art and backstories, a continuation of our project from earlier in the year. I'm really looking forward to it.
Morpheus: The Sleeping God
This week's update is about an important figure on the isles of Nimbaterra. If you've ever been inside the Opium Den on Club Nimbus, you may have noticed a large sleeping Cloud Wyrm in the corner of the room. That would be Morpheus, The God of Dreams.
The great drake, Morpheus, is a much respected and revered deity on the isles of Nimbaterra. His presence brings vivid, joyful dreams and rejuvinating sleep to residents of the isles. He first came to the planet when the progency of the wind and shadow goddesses was born, the original Gryphon Heart. He followed this individual to the isles to serve as their protector. In his shadow grew glorious, bright blue poppies that tower up to six feet tall and are renowned for having the most potent medicine. Morpheus is also in charge of giving the dying relief from their pain, as well as sending them off on a peaceful and pleasant dream in their final moments.
Morpheus has an important job on the isles, which he carries out once a year each winter on a day known as The Divine Harvest. For one day, he awakens and blesses the poppies that grow throughout Nimbaterra. This causes the plants to produce more medicinal opium as well as protecting those who use it from any of its ill effects. This lasts for the duration of the season. His blessing also helps the next year's crops grow healthy and strong. Once this task is complete, he finds a comfortable place to curl up, encases himself in iridescent stone and slumbers until next year's harvest is ready. Morpheus sleeps as long as he does to regenerate his gift, which he can only give once a year.
For anyone curious why updates have been slower than usual, Lunati and I are moving across the country sometime in the next month or two and have been busy prepping for it. Commissions are still open and we have some sexy updates planned for the near future, so we hope you'll stick around. :)
A Tour of Cloud Nine
Today's update is for the folks who follow my blog but who have not played, or even heard of Furcadia. Furcadia is an online fantasy world where artists and coders can use their skills to build their own housing, which are known in Furcadia as dreams. You hop into user-uploaded dream portals and are warped to an area created by the uploader. These can range anywhere from small personal homes made with default patches to entirely custom worlds in any kind of environment you can think of.
The community on Furcadia has been gradually shrinking over the years, but the work I've done for our own roleplay community has been intensive enough to build a whole other universe out of. All of the art, and the majority of the coding, I put together solo over the past decade. There are small quests, stories, and lots of tucked away places to explore. The name, Club Nimbus, refers to a tavern on the central floating island of Nimbaterra where the majority of our stories take place.
As we've drifted away from the Furcadia community, some of the names of various places in our world have changed. Club Nimbus is now known as Cloud Nine, the same tavern where bartender Skye Rufflequill serves beverages and the Cirrus Cartel do their shady work. The lower lands, or Isle of Zephyr, is situated in the middle of the sea. Tacoma and Lunati grew up on the Isle of Zephyr before a massive storm ravaged their home. They took to the skies together and founded Nimbaterra, where the Cloud Nine tavern and a port town were built to accommodate trade in the area.
This week I wanted to show some of the work I've done for this world of ours, as we're continually roleplaying and building onto the existing lore. This is home to our characters, and a lot of love has gone into it.
For more information about the different areas and rooms in Club Nimbus, check our roleplaying site.
This week's art is a kind of joke piece of Cassandra with a detatched dong in her mouth. Recently, I discovered that dick gore amuses Lunati. She was responsible for the idea, but I'm not sure what possessed me to actually draw this. I think her warped sense of humor has finally rubbed off on me.
I was going to take some time to talk a little more about Cassandra, but I think she'll end up getting her own page including the lore we've come up with for her this year. She's an old character, but hasn't gotten the love she (cautiously) deserves until recently. Cassandra's a vengeful and violent ermine, but she's adorable and fun to write. How is it that cute and evil work so well together?
I apologize for keeping this update short, however, it's been an extremely busy week for the two of us. I'm plowing through commissions at a steady rate, and can't object to the extra work as I'm struggling to make ends meet. If anybody would like some art, feel free to contact me on Discord at Tacoma #0228 or email tigressfire at gmail.com.
Pimpcat Gift Art
Today's art was a gift for a special friend, Elwood Flickertail (Pimpcat) who had a birthday this week. I found an old furcadia portrait I did for him back in 2012 and decided to make a digital painting based on it. Pretty happy with the result.
It's been a great week for commissions as well. Lunati and I are still unemployed and fighting hard to get out of our current situation, so every dollar helps. I'll likely be restocking my etsy shop this week with more sewing supplies and scraps for anyone interested. That's it for now.
A Fast Pixel Update
So for this week, I'm taking a break from character backstories and art to work on some larger pieces. Lunati has been busy fixing any coding issues on the site so that everything runs smoothly, and I'm working on expanding my portfolio to include some new digital pieces I've made. We have a small discord group to discuss art, lore and other nonsense, and awhile back I made some emojis for it. If anyone would like some pixel art emojis of their own for channel or community, I'm currently taking commissions for a small emoji pack (one character, with up to 8 expressions) for $25. Contact info is Tacoma #0228 on discord or email tigressfire at gmail.com.
Lunati is my wife's main character in our roleplay and stories. Lunati's own backstory had been missing for some time, and we are pleased to finally be able to share it here.
Lunati is small mouse with blue speckled spots, white fur, and a pair of butterfly wings. She grew up on the mainland Isle of Zephyr, far below the floating islands of Nimbaterra. Her family belongs to a minor Noble house in the Courts of the Fae, with Lunati being first in line to become the next Baroness of her family's lands.
Growing up, her family ran her through many tutors, lectures, and classes in etiquette so she could learn to be a proper Baroness when the time came. She was taught the ways of intrigue, politics and how to avoid assassination attempts. Lunati's education consisted of extensive schooling and she remained diligent in all of her studies. She loved socializing and making new friends, but few stuck around for very long. While friends came and went, a white ermine named Cassandra remained by her side longer than anyone else. The two shared all the secrets and stories they had over the years and their bond grew stronger with each passing day.
Cassandra endured bullying and abuse from her peers over her appearance, hobbies and whatever else her assailants could find to humiliate her. Lunati, greatly troubled by this, would walk her friend home from school as often as she could. On the days she was absent, Cassandra had to fend for herself. Cassandra didn't want to fight, she just wanted to be on her way and arrive home safely.
Pressure mounted as family piled more and more responsibilities on Lunati, along with decisions affecting minor games between the Houses of the Fae. The stress from her noble duties bled into the rest of her life. She shared her stories with Cassandra, who grew protective as the years passed. Cassandra saw Lunati as her safety net, the only one who would never let harm come to her. She followed Lunati around like a little lost puppy.
Eventually, Lunati's family began introducing her to potential suitors. Her family wanted her to marry for useful political connections, to continue the family name and strengthen the bond between the House of the Fae and other nobility. A long trail of lords and ladies formed, trying to win Lunati's favor. She turned all of them down, having neither the patience nor desire for romance at this time. Nobody had any connection to her and any marriage with another noble would end up shallow and loveless. With all her free time swallowed by family obligations, dread began gnawing away at her. Lunati knew she would have to make a decision eventually.
Lunati was frustrated, unsure of what to do. In all of this horrible madness, she turned to her best friend. Cassandra, hurt that Lunati wasn't in her life as often as before, snapped at her. She was troubled enough by her own pain and felt as though Lunati had abandoned her. Cassandra could no longer sympathize with her friend. They never walked home anymore, they rarely talked, and Lunati was spending all of her time on this stupid courting. Cassandra told Lunati to stuff all of this noble nonsense, spend more time with her, because none of it mattered at the end of the day. They argued, and Lunati was driven to tears. Her heart broke as she was pushed away by her best friend.
Left isolated by her stress, Lunati became reclusive and stopped talking to family and friends entirely. Each day passed in silence. She spoke just enough to answer her teachers and finish her studies. Family continued to press her, until one day, after her studies were complete, she packed her belongings and left home late at night. On her travels, she wandered into a tavern on a whim and decided to stay the night.
During her stay, she met a blue and white tigress named Tacoma who gave her a friendly ear. They talked about their troubles, the lost friends and broken love, and slowly bonded over heartbreak. They fell in love, and at last, Lunati found someone she could spend her life with.
And that concludes the backstory for Lunati. We aren't quite sure what next week's plan is, but it will either be more character lore or we'll take a break for something fun. Stay tuned, we're just warming up!
For today's update, I'm going into a little more detail about my main character, Tacoma. She has gone through many changes and as a result, her story has evolved a great deal over the years.
In the beginning of time, there was a great war between three dieties. The goddess of wind, Aria, who rules over all the birds of the sky, the hermaphrodite goddess of shadow, Maura, who created cats and other nocturnal predators, and the jealous, chaotic god of the ninth moon, Sethos. Maura fell madly in love with Aria, who was so beautiful to Maura that she made a tiger with fur as soft and white as clouds. This would introduce the genes for white or snow tigers. Sethos saw this and grew mad with jealousy, as he had always desired Aria for himself. His rage was the catalyst for entropy, which would slowly tear the universe apart. As a final blow to Maura, Sethos put a curse on her children, that they would never be satisfied, and would be as jealous as he was. They fought to the death, warring for millenia, and as they evolved they became brutal and bloodthirsty, killing for pleasure.
Aria saw this darkness in Maura's children and rejected her love. The cats of the earth grew jealous of the birds, being able to take off and fly away from them. Maura's heart was broken by this outcome. She had no knowledge that this was the work of Sethos, and slowly went insane mulling over what had gone wrong.
In her despair, she caught Aria alone one evening while Aria was forming clouds to send down to earth. Maura, still mad with lust for Aria, forced herself onto the wind goddess. Aria was impregnated with Maura's child. This child was Eurus, the first gryphon, a hybrid of bird and cat, that would go on to rule the skies. The offspring of Eurus would be loyal allies in combat and sky transport. As a result, Gryphons are typically regarded as a force of goodness and truth. They are a seed of light that had sprouted from despair.
On the Isle of Zephyr, a biochemist named Sky worked for years on the side to conceive a child. He wanted his offspring to take over his life's work and eventually retire in comfort. Sky specialized in studying mutations, and a select few of his experiments morphed into attempts to produce offspring of his own. His first successful experiment resulted in the birth of Tacoma. With Sky's genetic material and the ovum of a snow tiger, a viable fetus was produced and it grew. Sky's alterations caused an interesting trait to develop in the fetus. DNA identical to that found in gryphons formed independendly in Tacoma's biological blueprint. The fetus grew small feathered wings, and a hidden ability that would not be realized for some years after her birth. Sky was irritated with the results, and debated whether or not to terminate the project.
By this point, Tacoma's development was nearly complete, and Sky settled on raising her for a time to see if she could be of any aid to him. This, of course, did not happen. The fiery young tigress had her own desires and skills, and was fascinated by nature as described in the retelling of her youth. Her shapeshifting abilities only further reminded Sky of his failure, and he locked her out of his life as soon as she was old enough to fend for herself.
Tacoma would go on to train herself in combat, the knowledge of natural medicine and biology. She can harness small amounts of elemental energy in her staff, the Starcaller. Tacoma has also had some sword training, but was never particularly adept at it.
As a young adult, Tacoma wandered into a nearby town where she met the canine spy, Trixie. The two were close friends for a brief time, but had a falling out. Tacoma, very alone and confused, stumbled into a tavern one night. Here she would meet the noble mouse, Lunati. The two took an immediate liking to one another. In time, they fell madly in love and were inseperable.
Lunati and Tacoma were handfasted and started a life together on the Isle of Zephyr. They spent many peaceful years mastering spellcraft and combat training until the day a horrendous storm ravaged their home. Tacoma was injured when her leg was crushed beneath a stone column. While keeping Tacoma company and tending to her wounds, Lunati recalled a story she heard as a child about the fabled Isles of Nimbaterra, a series of small islands in the sky in a fairly remote location. Despite the fresh injury, Tacoma decided to make the journey with Lunati to Nimbaterra at once. The life they had built together laid in ruins around them, and there was nowhere else to go. The journey was long and arduous.
Upon arrival they found many new forms of plant and animal life. Most abundant were the isle's native poppies, which grew like weeds on every isle. Desperate for relief from her painful injury, Tacoma researched the effects of the poppies and found they could be harvested for their pain-relieving opium. What Tacoma didn't realize was that she would grow dependent on opium and struggle with addiction to the plant, long after her injury had healed. This would complicate her life and strain relationships, but she would overcome it with time.
As Tacoma recovered, Lunati organized transport to any friends who had their homes devestated by the storm. Together, they would hire builders to establish new homes on this newly discovered island.
A tavern was opened to offer refreshment to builders and laborers. This became "Cloud Nine," a peaceful haven to retire to after a long day's work. Under the guidance of its founders, Cloud Nine would bloom into a popular resort as many travellers came to indulge in alcohol and opium tea from the native poppies.
Together, Lunati and Tacoma would maintain the isles, hiring guards and patrolling for thieves and pillagers. For a time, life was uneventful but this peace would be short lived. Bouncer Blacktalon was terminated from Cloud Nine on allegations of murder and running an illegal gambling ring on the resort. In response, he formed the Cirrus Cartel, halting the export of opium and denying Lunati's dearest friend, Cassandra, much needed opium for her dying father. This is the chain of events that led to Cassandra going mad, building Zengre and sending these constructs of war to ravage the Isles of Nimbaterra.
The rest of the story has yet to be written. Next week, we'll discuss a character very dear to Tacoma who has told very little of her own story.
Malevolent March: Cenia
For the month of march, I'm going to flesh out some villains from the Nimbaterra Chronicles. If you're new to the site or wondering what this is all about, these are characters from the stories Lunati and I have come up with for our rp community and, eventually, our game in the early stages of development. This week, we're going to learn a bit about Cassandra Chaotica's undead sister, Cenia.
This is a character belonging to my wife, and one very dear to her personally. All of her backstory thus far has been written by Lunati and I'll be featuring it here this week.
So cold, it was so cold, moments of blackness took her.
When she awoke she saw a familiar face looking down at her, that of her sister Cassandra.
"How did you get so big?", a small tinny voice came out of her throat, much more high pitched than expected.
"I'm sorry to tell you little sister, that you had a bit of an, accident. I wasn't able to recover most of you," a small pout on her lips passed for a brief moment, and then she continued with a grin, "You did make such a delightful test subject, you even came out fully sentient, at least you aren't a drooling mess."
In a moment of shock she looked down at herself, small paws and a small white ermine body greeted her. Slowly, she glanced up at her sister once more.
"What happened to the rest of me?!" she inquired, a small bit of shock creeping into her voice.
"Oh it's over there, I just used your soul."
She glanced in the direction her sister pointed, and she saw herself, her fur falling off and mottled. Her extremities were turned to a dark blistering black from the cold, and her mouth opened with a ricktus scream.
She balked at the gruesome sight, fear forming in her beady eyes, that glowed with an effervescent sky blue.
"I'm-I'm dead?!", she screamed.
"Not quite," Cassandra replied, with mirthful glee. "You wont die, you wont feel pain. You can exist happily forever as long as you keep yourself repaired. I do hope you paid attention as I led you around my shop, my dear little sister."
"I'm one of your little clockwork weasels?!", Cenia replied with a bit of terror slipping into her voice, the obvious nature of her predicament still sinking in.
"One of my Zengre, yes, although I made sure you were a lovely white matching your former self. It wouldn't do to make you a common brown," she spit out the last words with obvious contempt.
She continued with a slight glee, "Only the best for my little sister, you will help me get what I want, you will help me get revenge on that bitch that stole my love! She was supposed to be mine! She will be mine, and if anyone dies on the way, we can have fun with them still, their screams and pain will be so delightful,"she finished with a dreamy sigh.
Shaken, a tremble of fear in her voice, the tiny ermine replied, "You mean, I can't die again, the cold won't get me? I was lost, I should be dead! I am dead! It hurt and burned and then, it was warm and I fell asleep, I couldn't get out. I was too far from our base camp, and-and-a-" she stammers, and takes a deep breath, calming herself. "How long until you found me?"
"Only a few days before we found that awful frozen corpse in the snow, it took me a couple weeks to make sure I properly trapped your soul, and got you up and running again. You're just running off of a tiny crystal embedded inside of you. It wont break and you wont have to worry about that frail fleshy body again."
The thought sunk in slowly for Cenia as she looked down, and she began to cry.
In the following months, Cenia worked with Cassandra, learning to cope with her fate and how to take care of her new form. Over time Cenia started to build bigger bodies for herself, since she was sick and tired of being small, and for other sentient Zengre that came into the fold.
In turn, Cenia trained others to build small minions, massively accelerating their output.
Cassandra's army continued to grow, raising from merely a handful to dozens of sentient Zengre, and thousands of small woodland creatures.
While leading raids, Cenia gradually grew more and more reckless. Her former bodies laid shattered and broken, yet her small weasel-like mechanical form would crawl out and continue on. Death slowly lost its meaning to her. Anyone who died would simply be raised as a new minion.
"Nobody has to die any more," she thought. "Nobody needs to worry about being hurt. Injured flesh can merely be replaced with superior clockwork. With time, anyone who gave up their flesh could join them, and be free of pain and misery. They could live on with immortality, if they gave up their frail and weak bodies to join the Zengre."
And that concludes our villains for the month of march. Next month, well discuss some slightly better behaved characters.