"So is something different today, or is it just me?", the wizard finally ventured.
"What're ya on about now?", Hook returned testily. The dwarf was busily making preparations for a campfire, splinting wood for kindling. It was, Ben sometimes reflected, as if dwarves felt embarrassed to acknowledge the existence of magic. They had excellent mages, true, but what they usually did was enchant existing tools, or make feats of engineering cheaper and faster than was usually possible. No self-respecting dwarf would establish a two-way permanent portal to another dwarfhold, if they could instead laboriously dig a railway tunnel there. Never mind that they used portals to move all the dirt out of the way as they dug.
"Oh, I guess I'm imagining things. You know", Ben tried, "I could just light that for you..."
"And there's this service you can subscribe to, quite cheap, where you get a rune that will heat up any medium-sized rock to cooking temperatures. See, they harmonically link your rune to a master rune in a volcano-"
* * *
He ambulated towards the others. Ciria was sharpening her sword, Nimble was setting up his usual array of traps. And Whats-her-name was skinning a rabbit she'd shot. Ben frowned slightly upon seeing her. Granted, rabbit would certainly be tastier than ration root, and honestly he WAS getting tired of the salami sandwiches - but the presence of an unvetted individual, shielded from all but the crudest aura measurements, still itched in his mind. You don't get to be an old wizard without developing good risk assessment skills, and having a person along who could at any point quantum-collapse into an enemy struck him as Bad Business.
Nimble, of course, positively thrived under such pressure. He was humming a jaunty tune while working, and the play of his emotions suggested he was figuring out one scheme or another to dig at the motivations of their temporary member.
"Hey", the thief said, "Care to enter the betting pool?"
"About our newest addition?"
"Yeah. ten will get you two on 'spy', three on 'saboteur', four on 'opportunist liar', five on 'illicit lover', seven on 'burglar striking it lucky' and twenty on 'werewolf assassin'."
"It's been a while since we had one of those", Ben remarked.
"Yeah, we're due. Oh and 'Just as she seems to be'", the thief added belatedly, "will get you thirty." Ben snorted. "As if."
"Hey, it's gotta happen sometime."
The mysterious ranger in question spoke up: "I can hear you, you know."
"What, you'd prefer we gossiped about you behind your back?", Nimble shot back.
"Hm. Come to think, this is a refreshing change of pace. Do go on."
A click, from inside Nimble's mind, as another data point slipped into place. Ben sighed theatrically, and went over to Ciria.
* * *
"There's probably a spell somewhere to keep your blade sharp and rust-free."
"I guess", Ciria conceded, pausing in her polishing. "If it's cheap and effective, though, why don't more people do it?"
"I could MAKE a cheap efficient spell for it, if I had a week or two." Ben stroked his beard - it gave off a mental purring sound - and speculated: "But no, it's probably about something else. Getting to know one's blade, maybe. Respect for one's tools? Building up some kind of sword-fighting karma?"
"Yeah. Until I have some more experience, I think I'll go on assuming other people have reasons for doing things the hard way." She resumed her sharpening.
"Fair enough. Speaking of monotonous excercize, though..."
Hm. Come to think, the sword was being slowly imbued with her aura, as she worked. The question would be whether this had some actual effect in combat. He'd have to get a look at the thing after a battle. Of course blood would imbue object with an aura all its own... Then again, they had had several battles without, improbably, any overt bloodshed. It really made you think...
"Ben? You were saying?"
"Oh, sorry, distracted by a shiny object. I was going to ask, how did your mental training go?"
Ciria demonstrated the technique - decent for a first try - and Ben helped her refine it somewhat.
"Good, good. This kind of training is really important for a beginning mage. I can honestly say my skills in Mental Resistance and Flexibility is solely responsible for my continued sanity."
A six-sided red-green-purple square wheeled by in two directions, Ben following it with his eyes.
"Did you see that thing? That would have upset me SEVERELY as a youth."
"...Right. But about this mind-reading thing, it's really kind of offensive-"
"Oh, don't worry, it's nothing I haven't seen before. It only takes a year or so before you get used to being the only sighted person in the nudist colony."
He was distracted by Ai's voice: "Ben, care to help with these roots?"
"Oops, sorry, Duty calls."
* * *
Ben strolled over to Ai, who had returned from a brief tour of the forest. In his arms were an assortment of edibles, foraged from the surrounding woods.
"No Ration Root, I hope", he ventured, joining Ai near the water bucket.
"Your portion will contain none."
"Good, good." He started shelling wild carrots with a cantrip. "Why DO you suppose the Divinities created a perfectly nutritious plant, common in near every climate, near undetectable by non-adventurers - and then had it be so bland to the taste?"
Ai rolled his eyes. "Because if it tasted GOOD, Nimble and Hook would make a fortune doing nothing but picking and selling it to restaurants." The martial artist started channeling Ki into the roots one by one, causing most of the dirt to drop away.
Ben couldn't fault his logic. The other two in their merry little gang had a somewhat mercenary attitude, and would take shortcuts if they were offered. Ben himself had started adventuring before adventuring even existed, doing the lighter kind of mercenary work for a chance to practise his spells and amass money for new ones. By now, though, he was in the business mainly because of habit. A quest done was a quest done, and the money didn't matter unless it ran out. As for Ai...
Ai said little about his quest, but thought of it a lot. And while his mental defenses were good, he didn't have the awareness of them that a trained wizard had. (Ben reminded himself once again to nag Ai about getting some basic mage training. A talent for theurgy was but one step away from that of wizardry, after all.) One day, Ai would finish his quest, and then he would leave.
Being a puzzle-minded individual with a penchant for prophecy, Ben had of course made a shrewd guess as to how it would play out. That guess had been summarily locked away in his vault for disturbing thoughts - most of his mind seemed to be in there, these days. All he could remember was that it was heart-breaking on multiple levels...
"You are shelling the salad leafs", Ai noted.
Oh. "So I am."
"This distractedness is why you do not get to cook anymore."
"I thought it was because of the Noodle Incident."
"And the Trouble with the Dwarven Bread. And the Sushi Misadventure. And the Eye-of-Newt Problem. And-"
"Yes, yes, fine. But the Sushi Misadventure wasn't STRICTLY my fault."
"You were the one who prepared the Wasabi."
And the banter continued, and Ben's mood lightened. Not long after, dinner was had, to everyone's satisfaction. And all was well, the first day and first night of what would be known as the "Princess Trouble" Adventure.
|This strip is also in my deviantArt gallery, for those who would like to read my comments, or discuss it :)|
Mini-Forum (Actual forum is here):
People who've linked me (back) :
I put up a new April Fools strip, this time with a snazzy FORMAT change.
But now, what you're REALLY here for - the new, worthwhile pieces of media I've found since last time:
Strong Female Protagonist (webcomic)
The story of a superheroine who decided life meant more than the cape.
Max Overacts (webcomic)
A bit like Calvin and Hobbes, if Calvin had big plans as an Actor.
The Bright Side (webcomic)
A girl makes friends with Death himself. They sit about having philosophical discussions. There are many comics riffing on this concept, but I think this one is my favourite.
The Property of Hate (webcomic)
Dreamworld fantasy, starring a 7?-year-old girl and an ambulatory TV, going through some sort of imagination-based environment, battling abstract concepts on the way. I'm not sure what this comic is about, or who exactly the characters are, or what they're supposed to be doing... but it's pretty awesome.
Specimen B-28 (webcomic)
After the alien abduction algorithm beamed Mitch Hansen onto their ship for the 30th time, the aliens decided they might as well befriend the guy. Now, 20 years later, they're extending him a fabulously expensive invitation to their big intragalactic... poker tournament. Hidden motivations? What hidden motivations?
Kubera (korean webcomic)
In a world torn by struggles between humans and monstrous Sura, Kubera Leez was given the name of a God when she was born. Now, that God has sinister plans for her...
Ran to Haiiro no Sekai (japanese manga)
Ran is a energetic 10 year-old girl with lots of magic and little control over it... The reader gets to see her grow up to an adult... in 3 seconds... with her magic sneakers... thus VASTLY extending the range of trouble she can get into.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (fanfiction)
Harry Potter-Evans-Verres lives in a Potterverse where wizards have on average 150% higher IQ, where Professor Quirrel is the best Dark Arts teacher in a decade, and where his stepmother REFUSED to marry someone who wanted to name his first son "Dudley". Steeped in Logic and Rationality from early childhood, he now stands ready to make his mark on the world, For SCIENCE! The Wizarding World will never know what hit it...
Big Human on Campus (Rosario+Ranma fanfiction)
Ranma gets booted from Furinkan high, but before he can start on the martial-arts obstacle course to reinstatement, he gets invited to Youkai Academy - with all the OTHER high-powered destructive individuals who need to learn to coexist with human soceity... All I can say about this one is: Spider Jesus Ranma is BEST Ranma.
Mother of Learning)(Original fantasy web-fiction)
In his third year of magic studies, the introverted and studious Zorian gets the unexpected opportunity to do better in his first month of studies - over and over again...
Worm (original superhero webfiction)
Taylor is a thoughtful teenage girl who just acquired super powers. But the very night she sets out to become a hero, things take an left turn, and she finds herself in the unexpected position of the city's newest Supervillain. And, well, things don't exactly get better from there on...
I've started on chapter Two now, and things seem to be going well. The storyline is basically plotted out - I'm fuzzy on many details, but then again, that's what makes comic-makinging stimulating...
The latest news on the webcomics front:
First, with a newly uploaded beginning chapter, The Wormworld Saga, by Daniel Lieske. I've had my eye on this one for a while, since hearing that he was making a webcomic detailing the story behind these two gorgeous art pieces.
Next, Tailsteak has started a new comic, Leftover Soup, which updates regularly, has a huge buffer, and is pretty good so far. (I'm still holding on hope for his other comic "Band", though because, dammit, I want to know where that little Alien-thing comes from... )
Ow my Sanity is the kind of comic you get if you combine the Cthulhu mythos with the "Magical Girlfriend Harem" genre. I definitely approve, and enjoy watching the antics of definitely-doomed art student David Bartlett, as he tries to juggle an ever-increasing entourage of cosmic horrors incarnated as women. Updates 5 times a week, large pages, and has a respectable archive already.
In Underling, we join teen genius and all-around slacker Lazarus, as he finds out precisely WHY it's a bad idea to assist demons in their plans to establish a portal linking Hell to Earth.
And in the comic Think Before You Think, a girl must face the most intimidating guy ever - an actual, literal mind-reader. ...And then she develops a crush on him. The comic is pretty much a humiliation-conga for the poor girl - and this is something I find fascinating, because while I normally hate that kind of thing, I'm able to read this one with barely a facepalm now and then. I think it's the lack of obvious moronic mistakes on the girl's part.
Oh, and I noticed I hadn't linked A Girl and her Fed before, which is a bit odd, because describing the setup is a hoot. *Ahem*
"In order to unravel a government conspiracy, a psychic journalist with ADD must team up with a cyborg FBI agent, a smack-talking Koala bear and the fairy-shaped ghost of Benjamin Franklin."
It's recently started on Part 2, and its creator is also updating the early strips to match the high standard of the latest ones.
Actually, I should do that with mine, they're pretty horrible...
In other news, the next edition of the RPG "Nobilis" is coming out in a few months, and it's showing all signs of being utterly awesome. From the various spoilers, and prior knowledge of Nobilis 2, I can confidently state that it's got THE most fun character generation I've ever seen or even heard of.
I'll start the second chapter of GA in a month or two. For now, here's the latest haul of webcomics I've discovered:
Sandra and Woo
Cool/funny series about a girl, her various friends, and a talking racoon.
Reminds me a bit of Ozy and Millie, only a bit more mature.
Ensign Sue Must Die!!! is a hilarious short comic, about 30 strips, about the reactions of the Star Trek cast to encountering the dreaded Mary Sue.
God of Destruction
Raphael leads the life of a normal teenager - until a well-connected conspiracy of crazed cultists declare him to be their reborn God. Problem is, they look to be right...
Funny and instructional comics, giving life advice mingled with snark and hilarity.
Manly Guys doing Manly Things
Buff time-traveller "Commander Badass" leads a posse/support group of unbelievably macho guys from games and movies, as they strive to somehow integrate into society.
Wasted Talent is the continuing tale of an engineering student as she studies, graduates, and finds a job.
Cute, quirky, and funny.
A Magical Roommate
What Aylia wanted was to go to a magical university and become a great wizardess. What she got was a minor university on newly discovered Earth, and instructions to keep her magical talents hidden. Hijinks ensue.
Simplistic graphics, but nice, LONG story.
I made some fanart for this one.
OMG, Homestuck. The epic scope. The musical score. The delicious trolling. The incomprehensive fetch modi. The Time-travel Shenanigans. The animations. The update schedule. OMG, the update schedule.
How to put this... If you've ever enjoyed watching someone else play "Monkey Island" or similar RPG:s, you need to check this out.
Also, this just in: Avallanath is a newly-started comic about a fantasy author who is forced to face his cliché creations, when wizards from his world, "Avallanath", magically grab an entire fantasy convention in their attempt to confront their cruel creator.
I'll be doing comics focusing on my life for a while, probably until summer. I have roughly 40 strips on the theme, that have bounced around in my head for a while now.
In other news:
I now have a DeviantArt Account as well as a TvTropes Entry. Both languish in obscurity, but I persevere!
Girls Next Door is a very amusing fancomic, starring Sarah from "Labyrinth" and her roomie Christine, from "Phantom of the Opera", living in a house with many other fictional characters.
I consider DeviantArt to be an awkward place to read a comic, but in this case, it's worth it.
Galaxion is a character-focused sci-fi comic that used to be in print at one time.
The ship Galaxion and its crew is sent to test a new experimental stardrive - ending up in a strange place. Lots of flashbacks lets us get to know the cast better.
Spacetrawler a newly-started funny sci-fi comic by Chris Baldwin, the creator of Bruno and Little Dee. Six people are abducted from Earth - to become its representatives in the galactic senate.
Lumia's Kingdom A young woman is suddenly presented with Queenhood of a magical kingdom she never heard of.
This comic's cast includes nudist royalty, psychotic seamstresses, libidinous squid women, overly sensitive bird people, and other odd folk...
The style and general mood remind me a bit of "Thieves and Kings".
The Meek is an intriguing low-fantasy epic. I've read the first three chapters on the author's livejournal, in sketch form, and am looking forward to seeing how it all turns out - though it'll take years... Note: Some NSFW nudity warning in the first chapter.
Keychain of Creation is a comic based on "Exalted", an RPG I have no experience of. Still, it's managed to catch my interest.
Another Gaming Comic is, yes, another gaming comic - about a dysfunctional gang of characters, the various RPG:s they run, and the ways they ruin their DM's day. The art is one step above clipart, and they discuss game mechanics and exploits a lot - sometimes for NON-EXISTING games. But yeah, I dig it. Good jokes, good plot, intriguing personalities; that's all I need. And that Matrix-parody RPG sounded pretty cool...
Atomic Laundromat: When supervillains and superheroes wrestle in toxic waste, who cleans their suits afterwards? That's right. these guys do.
Chasing the Sunset reached 500 strips today. Very nice humouristic comic about two young elves wandering the world along with an equally young dragon; best read in large chunks so you get the back-references.
Minus has ended, on a weird and whimsical note.
So has Casey and Andy. It shall be missed.
On the other hand, Sea of Insanity - one of my favourite webcomics - has finally started updating again. Yay!
Subnormality: Text-rich funny one-shot strips.
Nobody Scores!: Continuity-defying over-the-top absurdist satire, with characters who end up dead or locked up in something like half of the episodes.
Afterlife Blues: The next project by the makers of Miracle of Science, it hasn't caught my fancy yet, but I'm giving it time.
Good Ship Chronicles: Humorous well-drawn sci-fi comic about a dysfunctional ship crew, filmed for a TV documentary. The author has left stories unfinished in the past, but I'm crossing my thumbs for this one.
Knowledge is Power and Dumnestor's Heroes, both by Irony-chan, creator of Get Medieval. (Where does she get her energy, anyway? Because I could need a resupply, myself...)
The first story is a well-made mon-wed-fri-strip about some students who are granted super-powers. It's my favourite of the two, but Dumnestor's Heroes, a five-day-a-week RPG-session-as-comic, gets a bonus for the friendly Necromancer (though I was first with the concept, so there ;) ) and for several other just-right original touches that raise the comic above the standard.
I've been working on another secret project recently, part of why I'm late with my comics.
Trying to make a web 2.0-style concept I came up with into reality.
...I don't suppose any of you readers happen to be web-programming geniuses? Probably could use a bit of help with this one.
Narbonic, one of my long-time favourites, has ended.
...It feels weird somehow, NOT reading it first thing in the morning anymore.
Also, A Miracle of Science is in its epilogue phase, and will probably end any week now. With Casey and Andy still in hiatus, this means my Mad Science intake will become SERIOUSLY impaired. I don't think I could make it, were it not for Girl Genius.
What's happened since last update? Quite a lot.
Gods of Aar-Kelaan came out of reruns.
Elf Only Inn ended its hiatus.
Cheshire Crossing updated with a new chapter.
NeverNever got a new artist.
The archives of Killroy and Tina became free to read again.
So did those of FANS!
New comics discovered recently:
GM of the Rings, a story about what would've happened if LotR had been a D&D campaign.
Minus, a quirky and cute tale of a little girl possessing godlike powers.
In other news, I'm really starting to like YouTube, which is providing me with stuff I remember from my childhood, as well as new interesting TV shows I'm too lazy to catch on Nickelodeon. I quite enjoy Avatar; it's surprisingly good stuff - I might even turn on the TV one of these days.
Finally gathered enough new stuff for an update:
The Dreamland Chronicles
As a child, Alex regularly visited a magic dreamland nightly - until the dreams suddenly stopped.
Now, 20 years old, he gets to resume those visits by mystical means - and he finds his old friends there are similarly grown up. Beautiful CGI comic, crossing over to webcomics from print.
One stormy evening, a wheelchair-bound girl with declining health gets struck by lightning. This is, of course, a good thing. However, her life does become rather more complicated after this. Good urban fantasy comic, reminds me a bit of early Clan of the Cats.
Funny one-shot strips, threading the line between one-panel and three-panel gag; the image is the same for the panels of each strip, but speech bubbles differ. Can be quite amusing.
Casey and Andy is currently on its final storyline. However, the author has unveiled a new comic: Cheshire Crossing.
Alice (Alice in Wonderland), Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz) and Wendy (Peter Pan) get together and compare stories. From what I've heard, this is not quite as original an idea as it would seem at first glance. However, there is certainly room for another interpretation, especially since the tales seem to differ markedly in genre.
Also, Andy Weir put in Mary Poppins in his comic, too. That's practically perfect in every way!
AND HEY, CHECK THIS OUT: The Narbonic archives is free to browse once more!
Now I can finally stop right-click-and-saving it six times a week.
On the other hand, I'm currently occupied with storing the archive of Goblins...
Also, I hear Pewfell is free again, too. I've got to get around to reading it one of these days.
My internet access will be spotty this next week, so I put up the unfinished strips in the meantime.
In other news, welcome to those people coming here via the recent comment on my comic, which Reinder Dijkhuis posted over at the snarcoleptics community.
I've finally updated my Link List! (So far only the version without banners, though.)
Also, another update on the Webcomic World:
Angel Moxie is finishing up - oh, and it's got a theme song now.
Dragon Tails is updating once again, now with a video-game spoof storyline.
Avalon also shows signs of life.
I just noticed that Rogues of Cwlyd-Rhan made it's archives available to the public again. Good for me - I think it's more suitable for reading in large chunks than day-by-day, anyway. Oh, and reruns of early strips? I like that too.
The Angst Technology comic archive seems to work once again.
Girl Genius now have both my favourite scenes from volume 2 online:
The Falling Machine Episode ("several pages) and the "keelink everybody plan is no goot" scene.
Among new comics, I've found Goblins, a riveting story of some poor monsters who try their best to live peaceful lives, and not get killed by adventurers.
Also be sure to check out Get Medieval, a seven-days-a-week comic centering on a family of galactic fugitives who get stranded on medieval Earth.
Anyhow, what's happened in the webcomics world since last I posted? Lessee...
Sea of Insanity is updating again; the author is back from her year in Japan.
Great comic, in case you haven't read it yet.
And speaking of Japan, Tsunami channel also seems to be reemerging from its hiatus.
Girl Genius, one of the few comics I read outside the web, is moving to the internet, one strip at a time: at this point, the first volume is almost fully uploaded.
Mad scientists, steam-driven robots - this comic is too good too miss.
Compensating for this good news, Reman Mythology seems to be moving out of the web.
Gossamer Commons is shaping up to be a good urban fantasy strip, about a struggling writer who rescues a fairy, and the not wholly nice consequences that follow.
The author also has a blog commenting comics, web and otherwise, which has gained popularity of late. I myself have become a regular reader.
Vexxarr deals with the subject of alien invasion from a humorous perspective, positing that aliens are rather incompentent (which is a reasonable hypothesis to why they aren't freaking here yet, I must sadly agree).
Oh yeah, and my secret project is finished and was uploaded to the 'net a month or so ago.
What, you want a link? That would defeat the "secret" part, now wouldn't it? Come on, I've certainly given enough hints. OK, subtle hints, but still...
Anyway, those of you who nostalgic enough to care, probably know already.
|Some webcomic links:
Good comics you ought to know about already.
Good comics you might have missed
Good comics you probably did miss, go check them out!
And my comic you certainly DIDN'T miss. If you want to make sure other people don't either, here are my first few banners:
More will follow if I find the time.
Also, the rest of my webcomic links can be found here!
Site usage is tracked with Google Analytics, which - sorry! - entails putting cookies on your system. Also, your IP address is tracked. But hey, y'know, in Google we trust... |
|Golden Age and all characters are © 2001-2009 Roland Hansson. |
All rights reserved, as are the wrongs, which are by far more numerous.