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Familiar by MarikBentusi Familiar by MarikBentusi
Big picture, lazy background and overused ~oh so pwetty~ effects. Didn't like the lineart anymore and just wanted to be done with it. :d

Talitha and Ferius, two characters of mine. The latter used to be an exceptionally smart crow, now he's a friggin black metal phoenix familiar running on blood magic and potassium compounds.

WE DIDN'T HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY
SO WE REBUILT HIM ANYWAY

P.S.
No, shadows don't work that way. Yes this picture didn't turn out as I wanted it to in more way than one, but this is the best compromise in my opinion
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:iconrhejulmag:
RheJulMag Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
"Kharseth's instincts finally paid off"

...Ah, so that's why the bird looks like that. Ain't that sweet of him.
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:iconmarikbentusi:
MarikBentusi Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2012
Resurrecting your friend's pet with the help of a demonic possessed cat and a being above all gods should be way more common. He's actually done one hell of a job with the actual techniques under the hood of the resurrection.

Also felt great to spit destiny in the face. What with the Iron Age being supposedly even darker than the one where he almost met a meaningless honorless end. Bonus points for breaking out of his destroyer role and into a creator role.
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:iconrhejulmag:
RheJulMag Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Wait... wut? :confused: Demonic possessed cat?
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:iconmarikbentusi:
MarikBentusi Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2012
It's a character I'm experimenting with in the rewrite. I wrote her in to provide another perspective next to the first two protagonists and the antagonist, but her presence would lead to several events taking different turns.

Quick memory refresh, around the end of the Golden Age the protagonist is travelling with a bunch of soldiers, the antagonist's moles pull a quite literal "rocks fall everyone dies" to minimize a certain risk factor, the leader of the group that was growing suspicious - and ironically is the one only one to survive and during treatment of his wounds meet Talitha, which introduces her to the story.
Now, that event alone makes the story quite a bit darker for the protagonist since these fleshed-out and "good" characters with names are killed off-screen in an honorless fashion. He didn't exactly expect things to be quite this gritty. The story has had a bit of light-hearted world-jumping, a "She's not my girlfriend!"-abducting villain, some crazy bossfights, and a fuckton of zombies summoned by necromancers. The only odd thing in that regard so far is that there's apparently good and bad necromancers, but it's not really made important.

After the cave-in, the second event that marks the transgression from Golden to Silver Age occurs shortly after when the protagonist leaves the cave system and spies a suspicious person in black robes just next to the exit. Looks just like another one of those evil necromancer dudes he's already had the pleasure of confronting with his soul-sucking sword.
When the two make eye contact, the black-clad stranger shouts something in a foreign language and runs away, the boy follows and swiftly makes his way through half-summoned skeletons and zombies that are more flesh shields and road blocks than anything else. He's chasing him back into the cave systems he's just emerged from, but before he can catch up, he hears a brief scream and a body collapsing. When he arrives at the scene, the necromancer's dead on the floor and before him is sitting a weird skeleton with incorrect anatomy and two holes in the skull where a demon might have its horns.
Turns out.
*drumroll*
It is a demon!
Well it's kind of a demon. The imperfect summon is running out of time and doesn't have any fighting spirit left in it, but it doesn't have anything against talking either. The modus operandi for necromancers is to install a captured humanoid's crippled soul into an "empty" humanoid body and then create a link between caster and crippled soul that lets the first influence the latter. It's like finding a body without a nervous system, then transplanting an existing nervous system into that body, but replacing the brain with a bunch of cords that lead back to your brain so you can give the commands. Since these necromancers are humanoids, controlling humanoid souls and bodies is also relatively easy. It's like walking in familiar house, which is why advanced users can split their concentration among multiple summonings. They'll mostly run on instinct, but when you got numbers and equipment, that's usually enough.
Demonic souls are a much less understood life form and thus much much harder to control and maintain. But, for many necromancers, it's their weapon of choice when it comes to making a last stand and pouring all your effort into a single mighty summon, since demonic souls are just generally harder better faster stronger than the average humanoid's.
This necromancer right here was trying to do exactly that kind of summon, but in his nervousness he lost control and the demon (who was baited and tricked, just like the drow are always doing it) took charge instead. If we keep the metaphor from before up, the necromancer connected his brain to the crippled demonic nervous system he put into the prepared skeleton body. Since he was so nervous tho, he did a shoddy job at cutting the demonic nervous system into shape, so lower brain functions like instincts and reflexes weren't removed properly. Not to worry, you can still do the whole "my willpower is superior!" thing to ensure the necromancer's body is set to "master" and the demon's to "slave". But if you're backed into a corner and are chased by the guy who just slaughtered his way through your necromancer buddies and did not give a fuck, this bruteforce attack might just fail. And if it does, the "slave"'s remnants will log into your brain. Not to worry tho, it's not like you summoned a demon or anything. A demon would not only have it written into every bit of instinct and reflex that it's gonna possess you right back, it would also be advanced enough to rip out parts of your soul that it's lacking to reconstruct itself. Because if that happened, you'd get a weird being with demonic undertones but the higher brain functions of said necromancer, such as a moral code. I mean, imagine if you thought you were striving for a higher cause and, despite a timid personality, always wanted to be a hero. That demon would swiftly identify its attacking necromancer as a bad guy and want to play the hero by stabbing him. Which of course would be fatal for the demon because without a healthy body, souls start losing their integrity rapidly, so if you're a demon with a half-assed summon, chances are not only that you just burned your own ticket out here as well as your maintenance crew, but also just killed the necromancer's soul off. Even if you are one badass demon that's already collected itself enough to hang onto the parts of the necromancer's soul you're using to reconstruct your vision of "self", there would still be the unused parts of that necromancer's soul that would slip you by and be washed away by the magic flux that's always around us. So then you'd be dependent on half a necromancer's soul that's decaying fast and right before your eyes.
That's a terrible situation to be in. You might just give up all hope and plan on going out with a smile as a hero. You just threw your life away by killing the summoner you've perceived as evil, right?

Then comes in the boy that was after the necromancer himself. Seems like an ally. You're sorry to disappoint that you can't help him any more than you already did, but there's nothing you could - waaaait a minute you detect another demon in that sword of his! With that brainsoup from the necromancer's soul you don't consider yourself a real demon anymore and you do kind of see why people consider you evil, so that might even be further proof the guy before you is one of the good guys. Maybe there is one last service you can render. I mean, your soul is going to slowly and painfully disintegrate here as well, right, why not make lemonade and let him stab you with the soul-sucking sword to absorb your soul? Sounds like a finer end, doesn't it?

NOPE tells the hero the weird creature that's speaking with some crazy creepy child-like genderless voice and, despite having just witnessed that the story's definitely darker than expected, tells the demon to establish a connection between him and it so he can supply it with magic to stop it from bleeding out.
The demon, knowing the only fitting part of the boy's soul it could "tear open" for that procedure would be around the point where it's also open to the magic the soul-eating sword keeps giving it. So basically, the demon would still dive into that sword and try to somehow stay the hell alive. Even if the boy tried to occupy the sword by dripping his own blood onto it, so that it would have to chew through that blood's magic (which is easier to process and thus has a higher priority to the sword spirit's instincts) instead of the demonic soul, the demon would need to stay alive for WEEKS before having a connection secure enough it could just dangle completely off of it instead of having to rely on the sword's body that's currently the only artifact capable of hosting anything like a soul.
But y'know, when you got nothing else to lose and that boy isn't afraid to end up like the necromancer, sure why not. Go ahead and stab me, maybe we'll see each other again.
It's a scene that, after the crazy fun of the Golden Age, makes the boy suddenly feel really damn powerless since he's basically completely relying on the author to make the impossible possible here. He can still do his reality warping stuff, but due to his strong connection to the author, he also has a pretty good idea of what shit would fly and which wouldn't.

Then of course, it's ~*LOOTING TIME*~ for the necromancer. He doesn't have any weapons on him (odd), but does carry a messenger bag with him. Full of worried mail from the friends and family of the necromancers and some of the zombies the boy just gleefully carved his way through. There's not even top secret plans or something, just personal letter.
Waaaait a second that was an unarmed civilian messenger who really DID just summon meat shields out of fear. Maybe that gibberish he shouted in the beginnning was even something like "I don't wanna die, HELP!" instead of "I SUMMON YOU MAH MINIONS!".
Then it also hits the protagonist like a brick that he's just been absorbing souls and powering up through them like it was nothing, but it's essentially not only cannibalism, it's also denying these people any kind of revival or redemption in a world that's clearly capable of eventually developing immortality of some sort sooner or later. The odds of it happening before the dead souls decay are incredibly low, but if the protagonist wasn't here to make the impossible possible, he wouldn't be so sure about rescuing the girl from the antagonist showing the entire world in demons and skeletons.
Plus, he can't even say "I did what needed to be done!" because this is still essentially his dream world and his power fantasy. He wanted to breeze through tons of zombies, crippled souls, and still feel like the badass destined to save the world. And he did, for a while. He didn't regret making this a world where he's Ghandijesus who solves everything non-violently. Until now at least.

But by the time he discovers as much, he's already reached the Silver Age, which is when he's depowered and stripped of pretty much most of his power, especially the reality-warping ones and the deeper bond to the author. He's had his chance. Aaaand he blew it.
That's just the level of darkness the Silver Age starts with.

He does manage to keep the "demon" in his sword alive tho and transfer it to a dead cat he finds in a city destroyed by the demons (or so he thinks, really it was just looters going all out now that the end of the world is on the horizon anyway). That's his familiar and what serves as a blueprint for his revival of Tali's bird. Which is part of the reason why the thing doesn't exactly look like a big white crow anymore. Tho it wouldn't be impossible to have the same end result with a different path if I exclude this character.

This character could also provide an alternative to how Talitha manages to reach and save the protagonist in early Silvernight:
There's a bit of a light-hearted anecdote in the Silver Age before the incident where the protagonist travels to "the one big city that stands the best chance against the demons", which is also where Talitha happens to live in. It's the protagonist's friend that finds her and her cousin and it quickly becomes said friend's priority to get into said cousin's pants ASAP. The protagonist is supposed to play the role of his foil to make him look better by contrast, which the protagonist really doesn't give a crap about until his friend has the GLORIOUS idea of having a friendly duel between them - with live weapons. First person that draws blood looses.
It's a well-established fact between the two of them that the protagonist's sword is of soul-sucking nature, so the protagonist has no idea wtf he's thinking. He also can't simply come out with that fact since those swords... don't tend be be legal. And if he just vehemently denies the duel he knows it'll cause a ruckus, and because of what he did last night in the city, he doesn't exactly want to be noticed by the police so soon before they want to depart.
So he's like "FUCK. Demonic familiar, do something!"
And she's like "DUDE I'M A CAT"
Since the protagonist's other companion, the teacher of him and his friend, isn't minding the duel either, the role of the sane person falls to Talitha.
I mean, who else.
She's picked up something was off about that cat anyway and she's used to having a sapient animal companion herself, so she's not all that surprised when the demon uses its possessive powers to get its voice into her head and tells her what's up.
Meanwhile, the boy is playing the duel completely defensively, even tries to somehow get himself wounded for an easy victory, but his buddy doesn't want that, he wants to deliver a show, so he forces him to take the duel seriously. Since he can't force him not to play it defensively however, he's taking more drastic measures. And by that I mean he grabs his soul by the fucking blade and asks him what the fuck's wrong with him today.
Good thing we have a blood mage on standby who can cut the magic flow within the blood before removing it completely and declaring the duel a victory on the protagonist's part since Nemico pretty much forfeit with that self-injury.
He still gets his girl despite getting trolled tho. He gave her a pretty badass show, his foil just sucked.

That would be a time from where Talitha had made contact with the protagonist and his familiar. In early Silvernight that would solve two things: First, yes Talitha goes way past expectations for strangers, but with that bit of backstory she'd actually have a reason to believe there's more to the protagonist's situation than she can see. So even if the protagonist is being overpowered by some demonic tumor, she might just think it's worth saving a fighter who wants to protect life, and even gambled his life for a "demon" before. Second, using the nigh-almighty antagonist to enable Talitha to reach the protagonist would underline what a gamechanger the survival of the protagonist would be, but there's also a certain allure in Talitha using the protagonist's familiar as a bridge to establish contact to his Archangel and tell it "YOU WILL BRING ME TO YOUR HOST AND YOU WILL LIKE IT."
Tho then it seems like there was always a much greater chance at random people getting mixed up in things, which might take away from the finality that's being built up until Talitha smashes right through it.
DECISIONS.

There's also the decision on whether I want to make the cat survive for that long. Just because Silvernight catches the protagonist, he's being systematically broken down by the antagonist, and part of that involves establishing all of the protagonist's friends were either dead or hired spies to ensure the boy doesn't do a single step the antagonist doesn't want him to take. The familiar would be one of the very few not-spies to survive, and I'd like to keep that number as low as possible for obvious reasons.
A compromise I've been thinking about is killing the demon and having it hijacked by another demon that assumes her identity. It could be the setup for a betrayal that would never come, and would allow me to add information from a demon with knowledge and skills different from the original one while keeping the personality character relationships (but not dynamics) generally the same. On the other hand, that's pretty complicated stuff for a side character, which is why I'm gonna see how the rewrite plays out.

Lastly, the protagonist more or less starts with a sidekick, a bossy little AI that manages his cybernetics. Because when you're in your power fantasy, you gotta have all the cool gadgets.
This AI intended to work in a scifi-like environment kind of becomes useless in a fantasy setting tho, which is why it's eventually destroyed and, if the demon character stays, replaced by exactly her. I would not like to be the guy who makes the wish of "man she's kinda useless, it would be cooler to have a real expert on this setting on standby" and then getting my wish granted. Reality-warpers being careful what they wish for, yadda yadda yadda.
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:iconrhejulmag:
RheJulMag Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeeaaahh. I dunno. Liked the storyline before this one. The layman writing on this one went a little faster than the ones you wrote before so I had to re-read this a few more times. And I might not have digested it all.

I think you already have a possible snide-remark-making familiar character in Tali's bird. But adding another one for Seth could make it interesting, like the two familiars could sometimes have scenes in the background making comic observations of their "owners". It could also produce an anecdote where Lilly goes "When do I get my own familiar?!"

Like I said, I prefer the old storyline. But if you change it, can I see a copy of the new one? :)
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:iconmarikbentusi:
MarikBentusi Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2012
I shouldn't write this stuff when I'm tired, should I?

Basically the character is introduced by the protagonist stumbling across a demon who killed its master because something went wrong during the summoning and the demon basically adopted a human set of morals. Which led to it deciding its own summoner was a dick.
By slaying its summoner, the demon also cut off what connected its soul with that of its summoner, meaning it was bleeding out when the protagonist finds it. It becomes his familiar when the two work out a method to take the demon's cut link and grow it onto the protagonist's soul.
Its primary usefulness is to provide greater insight about the world from a unique "outside perspective", someone that's always seen things from the magic layer until they gained the physical body (and thus senses) of a cat. The "magic world" people have been trying to decipher for so long despite a lack of sharpened senses for it has always been the home world for this creature.
One of the major events the existence of this character may influence is Talitha's big moment. Without the familiar, the antagonist would be the only possibility of her getting to the protagonist. With the familiar she could establish a connection to the protagonist's Archangel and find a way to hijack its world-jumping abilities. That is, if the familiar isn't killed off in the Bronze Age where pretty much every light the protagonist has is supposed to be switched off.
Plus the familiar could assist in turning Talitha's bird into a familiar. But it's not really a necessity seeing how the whole thing really just hinges on Kharseth's Archangel and Kharseth could learn a thing or two about the stuff from the familiar before the Bronze Age.

I'm not sure if the comparison of the cat and the bird would hold up past "animal companions". The demonic familiar is happy with taking a support role. Getting all the magic it wants from its own physical body as well as the master it's connected to is pretty much living the dream for it. It's much closer to a talking pet with superpowers because it's clear who is in charge and who has to obey when things get rough. Tho personality-wise, it's the human-demon mix instead of something animal-like.
The bird doesn't have that link or necessity at all. He's just a sapient bird who likes hanging out with her and she appreciates showing the city to a stranger of the south, who on top of things is something of a minor holy simple. It's a much more equal relationship based on mutual respect, and of course the bird is much less fantastic and useful than the familiar. It's actually highly illegal in the city to be the owner of a sentient creature, tho that law was conveniently places AFTER workforces of slaves had helped build it up from the ground.

Cheer up Lilly, you're the only one without an animal companion, but you're also the only one not in dire need of a therapist. So what, your family is dead and you've been sold into slavery as a baby. Walk it off. Happy backstories are for filthy NPCs.

I actually have isolated text blocks about the familiar since I wanted to experiment with those scenes before the rewrite had caught up to it, haha.
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:iconrhejulmag:
RheJulMag Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I can understand the near incoherent writing due being tired but still... that was a lot of text produced for someone who was near or half asleep. Incoherent or otherwise.

So having this demonic possessed cat actually alters the story in a way that it removes the antagonist from influencing Talitha's meeting and saving of Karseth and also negates or delays Silvernights monitoring of the protagonists. Which would give more time and flexibility of side quests to improve character development and relationships between characters. Admittingly, on second inspection, this plot doesn't sound that bad. Possible improvement perhaps? But then again it's ultimately you decision.

Regardless of the nature of the bonds between familiar/animal companions to masters/friends, there is still the very likely possibility of the interaction and communication of said demonic cat and undead bird. And the comic value of such scenes. Acknowledge the possible hilarity of the scenario. Acknowledge it!

But what if Lilly reeeeeally wants a familiar? Everybody she know has one :3
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:iconmarikbentusi:
MarikBentusi Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2012
Well, what can I say, I'm an incoherent rambler by default and need a brain in charge to sort out the important bits.
---spoilerwarning---
and it's getting late again, so let's see how that works out
---end of spoilers---

Welp, seems like I've gotten incoherent again or you lost me somewhere. With the demonic familiar the antagonist doesn't need to intervene anymore, but it's still all happening in Silvernight, everyone in Silvernight still sees what's happening to Kharseth, Kharseth still gets nearly possessed, and the antagonist still plans on screwing everyone over. The difference is between using the antagonist, who is always very convenient cop-out to use when I've written myself in a corner, or using the familiar, which would make the scene much more mundane, but also pack a bit of tension in that Talitha tries to get the whole idea to work before it's too late.
Tho knowing myself, by the time I've reached that point in the rewrite, I've already got completely different ideas.

Haha, if we're talking about both cat and bird in the shape of demonic familiars, I think Lilly would be scared to get an animal companion of her own. Then she'd think again and try and get the most awesome pet ever and then make it even more awesome by making it demonic.
Never really thought about it tho, nor did I put a lot of time into thinking up critters and creatures. The only thing in the drowish underground I've made so far is this bugger.
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:icononirke:
Onirke Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
i love it, nice lineart ,colouring and contrast. I like that dark bird-thingy ,its awesome ^^
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:iconmarikbentusi:
MarikBentusi Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2012
Thank you! I tried to give the latter a metallic effect, but it seems I still have a long way to go. :XD:
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