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Strop
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Right, so I pulled out of the previous GFX round due to not being able to finish on time. Since then I've been working on the image on-and-off and now it's finished only about a week late.

The picture shown below is half the size, the fullsize one can be found by clicking on the picture.

http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a268/dongstyle_ltd/Not%20photos/technologyfinal.jpg

The full resolution pic (1280xs1024) is low quality...the high quality version is 1.1Mb and doesn't fit on photobucket xD Lame. Except I feel justified with the size...this was hand-drawn from start to finish.

I should have tidied up the sketchlines more, but wasn't actually intending to spend this much effort on it. Meh.

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Strop
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Wheee thanks. Here's page 11 of SoS:

http://i438.photobucket.com/albums/qq105/strawpony/stropepic11.png

Yay for finishing the first exam. Not that it counted for anything...

Strop
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Posting page 12 early, because I stayed up all night watching over my mother, who is very ill.

http://i438.photobucket.com/albums/qq105/strawpony/stropepic12.png

Morning...now I might see if I can catch some sleep.

Cenere
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AHHHH POSTING FAIL AGAIN AWAWRAWRAWRWARAWR


I am actually making fashion with that, huh...?
Anyway, all too epic. I might kick you out of the tournament for drawing too well. Naaah....
Strop
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Yeah, the awarwrawrawrawrawrawr is so much fun and also so easy to type! Much easier than ROFLROFLROFLROFLROFRLFORLFOROFL

Page 13

http://i438.photobucket.com/albums/qq105/strawpony/stropepic13.png

Oh noes, is Stroppers in trouble!?

I will now finish page 3 of Strop's MWT entry.

hitmanvp95
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OMG!!!!awesome stuff strop!!!jesus...

Strop
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Page 14:

http://i438.photobucket.com/albums/qq105/strawpony/stropepic14.png

Yes, definitely trouble.

Zophia
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*smiles because of knowing what happens next* *not because of what happens next, just because of the knowledge*

Strop
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shhhhhhhhh! 8D

Zophia
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XD
But it is so neat. 83

howlett
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This is really cool Strop, how do you come up with such great ideas?=3

raigeki
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strop. is there any naruto theme or styles on the ninja strop?? just want to see ninja strop do the multi-shadow clone jutsu or a ninja strop ransengan style..

Strop
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Haha, I'm thinking about doing a bit of that, but not sure yet. I was thinking about Strop being able to do summoning jutsu for his equipment, and various things that would reflect the abilities of moderators on AG.

I've now finished exams (some funny stories to do with that), so I will be getting some more things underway. Lots of backlog to clear up...

Strop
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Okay, page 15!

http://i438.photobucket.com/albums/qq105/strawpony/stropepic15.png

Quiet Zophia and Cen, just coz you know what happens next hehe.

Strop
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Shoot, let's try that again.

Here is a chapter from MWT: Orlestat's 2nd Round

The damned city seems to never end, but after some time the narrow alleys change to broader, more comfortable streets similar to those of a bigger city. Stores filled with stuff, dirt and a lone newspaper. Still no other than him, but at least there seem to be no enemies either. Except the feeling of being watched by someone far away, and the luring dangers hidden in this unknown universe. A slight snapping sound is heard behind him, and something big and red flies over him, its beak making a sound much like bones breaking. It looks hungry and wicked.


There Will Be Blood

Moreover, there was that something tickling Orlestat's fancy again, or rather, desires. Much as he relished the exercise of his mastery over these baser elements, the air around him was saturated, swimming through his world and filling his lungs, sending a pulsing urgency through his body, a tingling rushing down his spine and within his loins, setting his muscles quivering and peaking his senses. Calm, calm he chanted to himself, the voice echoing into meaningless noise that was drowned by the throbbing of his temples. His vision was tinting red, distorted by the glacial beat of his heart as his consciousness dangled over a yawning abyss, the infinity below swallowing him, dominating him, driving him maddeningly into a single, orgiastic moment that made him inexplicably wish he would explode.

Then he felt the redness very close behind him, and a whisper caressed his cheek. You know you want to.

In an instant the ground had dropped a mile away below him, along with the walls that taunted him so. He puffed his chest out, sucking in air deep through his nostrils, even feeling the air stream around his turbinates(1), and letting loose a bellowing shriek, the heady sensation of energy washing away music to his soul(2). Free again, and loving it.

And of course there was the culprit, the miserable being responsible for this redness, circling around, flapping towards him, the crunching drawing ever closer. In his state, Orlestat could not help but indulge himself.

"I have some questions," he clipped mockingly. "But I know you can't answer them."

He didn't wait for a response; he didn't care for a response. Towards a certain death he bolted, wings beating a path of whirlwinds in his wake, the creature filling his view faster than he could comprehend. At the very point he knew he would collide no matter what he did in the split seconds thereafter, he felt alive.

And then the creature was gone. Orlestat snapped his beak, and as his tongue instinctively roved his mouth, he tasted blood. He shivered right down to his tail feathers.

But damn it all, where was the bloody creature? Orlestat braked and wheeled around, just in time to see globules congealing and reforming. For the first time, Orlestat perceived bat wings, a long neck and reptilian limbs and jaws. A dragon.

Even before it could register the arm of God itself had come crashing down upon him, grinding him into insignificant specks. In a moment of absolute calm, Orlestat noted stone rushing up to meet him but he could not be bothered to move or protect himself, smashing straight through a building and through the floor and foundation, the pile of rubble he collected cruelly halting his plunge. He felt shattered to pieces, regardless of whether or not he actually was, and it was all he could do to lay there while, strangely, the floor and the walls slithered up around him.

Get up.

Orlestat was not even capable of ignoring the voice.

You haven't even begun. Get up.

Annoyingly, inevitably, a little spot of life crept back into him. He took it, focusing, drawing the little beads of his scattered being together, coalescing until it insinuated his limbs and his core and finally, his mind.

Calm, calm, he chanted once more, and once again he was alive. The world was no longer red, but instead gloomy and eternally stark. But then again, that urgency also lived on.

Orlestat sprang towards the wall, setting his talons deep in the joins of the brick, and tore it apart. Stepping through to the alley, he looked up to see the dragon had resumed its circling. The smell permeated his nostrils again, so he chanted the mantra, shutting it out.

It looked like there could be some answers to his questions after all. He launched, shooting high into the air, until he drew level with the dragon again. Once again, it circled around and faced him. Once again he rushed forward, and this time he saw a flash of motion right before it hit him, but fast! He banked sharply, twisted and tucked, and the dragon's tail sliced through the air above him.

Orlestat allowed him a moment to study the dragon, only to realise his fatal misjudgement almost too late. Somehow, the dragon morphed into a new direction, seeming to elongate as it turned the corner and stretched, jaws almost snapping his legs off. Instinctively he kicked out, and he hit something hard, the impact jarring him.

It didn't add up at all. He turned, folded his wings behind him and dived. Orlestat rued this travesty to the hunter's code, for peregrines were those without predators, but at this precarious juncture, he knew he had to treasure this rare moment as the prey, treasure it and use it to study this impossible being, so that he might turn the tides to his favour.

Where the walls taunted him before, they shielded him now, closing around him protectively. Flapping desperately through the dead air, Orlestat kept an eye fixed behind him, where the dragon loomed, snapping at his tail. He flared and arched, swooping through a sharp corner, and the dragon snaked around without even slowing, the jaw snapping ever more threatening. He pulled a half loop, his eyes almost popping out of his skull, yet the dragon seemed to compress and magically reverse, and he had to jinx repeatedly just to avoid that wet crunching noise becoming a gruesome reality.

Way too close, but magically...there was an idea. He came back to the present just in time to fold his wings, twisting through a window, bouncing crazily through a corridor and smashing through the far wall, taking a shower of mortar with him. He noted how the dragon seemed to twist and turn and change shape as it followed him through. It was clear to him now.

He gripped the bricks he had snatched from the wall in his talons, and with a mighty heave, hurled them at the dragon. Even falling to the ground, sparks flying as his talons left deep scour marks in the pavement, he saw the dragon brake, but unable to dodge, the bricks passed through its body with a splash, the body reforming in their wake. Then the dragon was upon him, and this time he knew to focus, inner strength blossoming and countering those steely jaws as they lunged, freezing the dragon.

Corporeal, not quite pseudopod but certainly not vertebrate either. Physics here was distorted but still fundamentally consistent, so this blood dragon, this form of living being was most certainly impossible in the reality Orlestat knew. Somebody powerful was pulling some twisted strings, and the realisation chilled him. It also thrilled him, for there was now a method to this madness.

Without thinking, Orlestat raised his other talon and neatly caught the tail. He recognised this flow, in fact he could visualise the trillions of cells and the energy that bound and moved them. The beauty of the symmetry to his own methods of inner strength seduced him, layering his bloodlust with extra flavour. It shamed him that this dragon had him outdone on those natural properties he secretly took so much pride in, but it had been programmed simply, and so he would pay his respects and exact his vengeance simultaeneously by defeating it with his best methods. He breathed, then twisted away, releasing the dragon but building his energy while breathing. The dragon lunged forward again as he landed but he stood firm, blasting it with the full force of his voice(3). As predicted, the dragon reeled back, ripples forming over its chest. Orlestat dove in through the opening, a talon slicing deep into the chest and the other slashing the base of the tail as he slid out on his back, from underneath.

For the first time the dragon shrieked, the guttural cry a heralding call of hellish demon spawn. Orlestat felt his guts squash into a tiny knot and he doubled over, nauseated to the core. Through blurred vision he saw the dragon writhe as it sprayed blood, then seemingly shift again, the head and tail dropping away, bathing the streets in crimson, and another body rose up, wings unfurling from a cocoon that melted into a waspish body, and another dragon head reared back.

Before Orlestat could piece the events together, a series of blades lashed out. Instinctively Orlestat knew better than to parry, but he was barely capable of dodging. The blades slashed him, no wound appearing but deep burning numbness radiating through his chest and his thigh where the blades passed through. Where the dragon was previously quadruped, it was now anthropomorphic, and unleashing upon him a furious barrage of his own techniques. That somebody had been watching him as he watched others was boggling enough, but even more so was that some internal alarm was preventing him from countering as he always would have.

And on top of that, the air was thick with the rising mist of blood, obscuring his view. As he struggled, stumbling backwards over the slick stone, it dawned upon him that the mist was not blocking his view, but that it was reforming on the creature.

Eons of experience prodded Orlestat to the initiative. He took to the skies once again, laughing inside at the cruel irony. Despite becoming whole again, it was unlikely this dragon would change back to original form for it was too predictable and therefore simply defeated, but the body it was now was like his own. Alien, unsuited to any of the worlds from which his parts came. He had reduced this thing to a whole that was somehow less than the sum of its parts, and thus it had become kin.

But unlike him there was something curious about those bladed limbs that reminded him of the snapping jaws. Parts of the dragon had yielded, other parts hadn't. It was all to do with the flow and their priorities. Just like he could prioritise his flow, but somehow this was...different.

He did not have the time to think further, for the dragon must have finished regrouping. One moment a mere speck, the next it was upon him, slashing at him with alarming dexterity for one with such misplaced wings(4). But he still had its measure, drifting back just enough to keep out of its range. Sure enough, this dragon did not, and therefore probably could not extend itself. Those limbs had become dedicated attacking points, and in being so configured, the defence was neglected.

Just then, pain shot through Orlestat's body and his muscles spasmed, acutely reminding him of the damage he had taken. The time for complacency was long past, so drew in his breath again and hurled his energy at the dragon. To no avail- the dragon flailed with its limbs, scattering the attack, and rushed forward. But Orlestat simply wasn't there anymore. In an aerial zigzag, he had already darted behind the dragon, for he knew it would no longer be able to turn quickly, and without hesitation, speared forward. He could see the vital point, the heart of the flow, and knew that it would simply not be enough to disrupt it, but to destroy the material itself.

The hooked beak tore past the wings and burst through the chest. At the critical moment, he wrapped his shoulders, pushing the energy out through to the extremities of his wings, turning them to steel, and spun. The dragon gurgled, then sighed its death rattle as it was rent to pieces by propeller blade, the cells sheared to pieces and scattering uselessly.

Then Orlestat loosened, spent, his limbs flaying limply as globules of blood rained around him, dissipating into the air, seemingly reclaimed by nothing. As for him, he remained, plummeting back to ground, bouncing off the walls and crashing to the stone floor in a heap, where he lay still, breathing hard.

Orlestat had won, barely. Even while the blood creature was superior to him in ability, the contest between it, and him, had never been in question. More worryingly, he had almost been defeated by himself. His bloodlust, his arrogance, these things he was so susceptible to that impaired him even as they drove him.

Painfully, Orlestat picked himself up, limping to the nearest wall and collapsing against it. One of his legs had lost its strength, and he could barely move the shoulder on the other side. He would have to meditate, meditate deeply not to repair his own broken gates(5) but also to repair his mind. In this dark place, more than ever he would have to remain vigilant for every corner he turned, every new thing he faced, for his reality and those controlling it would mock him and tempt him from the way, and despite the harmony it created within him when he succumbed, it was a forbidden song he knew he would forever regret singing later.

Perhaps the fuzzy blue apparition was right. Perhaps he would be the death of him before this night was out. But somehow, somehow he doubted it.

---

Footnotes:

1) Turbinates- the cone-like structures within the nostrils of peregrine falcons that maintains a planar air-flow throughout the airways. This is essential for aerodynamics, especially when the falcon dives. My guess is that while he should be able to feel the air rushing through his nostrils, he should not be able to attribute this to the airflow around the turbinates themselves, hence I'm actually subtly hinting at an abnormally heightened sensation.

2) By now you may have recognised that when Orlestat gets really excited, his sensory modalities tend to merge into one, hence the predominance of cross-modal descriptions. This vaguely makes him appear schizoid.

3) This is in fact a version of the kiap, a martial-art method of projection that can subdue opponents without contact.

4) I know it's a stretch by any form of justification, but I'm assuming that anthropomorphic beings with wings already have significant anatomical challenges, but these are far more significant for those who have wings and arms, like the blood dragon's second form, as opposed to just wings, like Orlestat.

5) Practicioners of the inner martial arts who are familiar with the concept of ki/chi/qi commonly talk of the flow of energy through bodily 'gates', or bodily points where the energy flow is regulated. The hits Orlestat took from the 'blades' inflicted the same kind of damage as he had dealt to the dragon in order to defeat it.
Cenere
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Oh, how I am going to enjoy writing your next introduction to the next chapter.

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