Monthly Archives: April 2012
[Note: This story is NOT ELIGIBLE for contest entries, but if you'd still like to comment that'd be great.]
Everyone was fine, in a manner of speaking. Or they were until Jaylee hefted up the fist-sized pearl she’d procured from the clam and used its power to unbind them.
Then everyone wasn’t so fine, except Rei who treated the situation like an interesting puzzle that needed figuring out.
“Who’s that?” Mr. Ellis asked, peering at Albedo.
“I saw a huge rockslide,” Jared said. “Seemed fine before, but I’m pretty sure rockslides don’t just happen randomly, especially without mountains–”
“My sincere apologies,” Albedo said, politely ignoring Mr. Ellis’s stares. “Lancer and I were having an altercation, but it’s been resolved.”
Jared nodded, accepting this explanation. Mr. Ellis wasn’t so easily convinced. “What’re your intentions with my daughter?”
Jaylee, whether to keep Albedo spherebound or because Albedo kept pressing towards her, had her arm wrapped around his while he combed his fingers through her hair. “Daddy, it’s not what you think.”
“It’s not? I don’t need to think to see what I see, and the sight’s not suiting me.”
Demons didn’t break loose from the underworld then, but Albedo’s bindings shattered, which was nearly the same. “Insignificant fleas! How dare you spherebind me. As if I’d ever feel love, even affection, towards a juvenile girl. You shall pay for this.”
Albedo raised his hands, ready to strike. Mr. Ellis reacted faster. In the blink of an eye, sprockets and gears and gadgets galore surrounded Albedo, spinning and lifting him off the ground. Without dirt beneath his feet, he seemed to lose control over the rocks. The cogs zipped forth, removing themselves from the wagon and Mr. Ellis’s clothing: wheel spokes, transformed zippers, belt buckles. In the end, Albedo was trapped in a constantly spinning clockwork prison.
The well-dressed man screamed until a pair of screws attached themselves to a bit, spun tight, and clamped his mouth shut.
“Jaylee,” Mr. Ellis said, “you’re too young to date him.”
“Daddy, I don’t want to,” Jaylee said.
“I know he might seem appealing, being more mature and handsome, but–”
“He wanted to kill us, daddy.”
“Makes no difference. I’m not losing a daughter to the likes of him.”
They argued, each confusing the other. Mr. Ellis wanted to keep him trapped so he’d stay away from Jaylee, and she wanted Albedo constrained so he wouldn’t be a threat to anyone. Neither budged, until they realized they wanted the same thing(though they still refused to accept the other’s viewpoint).
“So,” Rei said. “How was it?”
The commotion between the Ellis family had distracted him. “What?” he asked.
“You and Jaylee? The water? Did you kiss?”
Lancer stared at her, his expression blank. “Are you serious?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
So she was serious, which seriously bothered him. “Look, Rei–”
He would’ve said more, set the record straight, but then he remembered the giant clam. Isabelle, too, but the clam seemed more immediately important. Could clams live out of water? Agh! What if he was dead already?
“Gotta go!” Lancer ran as fast as he could towards the reservoir.
The upheaved ground made the search more difficult than necessary, but he found the clam. Tilted sideways, shell cracked open, the clam looked so horribly out of place. He jogged up and patted the shell.
“Hey, buddy?” How did one address a companionable clam? “You alright?”
The clam gurgled, water spluttering out of his shell like a drowning man spitting up water during resuscitation. “Lancer–” the clam said, voice dying.
“What do I do? Hold on, hold on, I’ll save you.”
Lancer turned to run to get help, but crashed into Rei. Her and him, wood and flesh, fell to the ground.
“Rei! Are you alright? This is horrible. Two in one day. Don’t die, Rei.”
Rei clicked her eyelids, blinking. “I’m fine. Stop trying to put me back together! I haven’t fallen apart. I don’t even think that’s possible.”
Lancer stopped prodding her arm, moving it around its socket. “Oh. Sorry.” He glanced at the clam. “Look, Rei. This clam can talk. It saved us. It’s going to die.”
Rei surmised the situation, eying the clam. “I don’t think he’s dying,” she said.
“What do you mean? Did you hear him?”
“The girl’s correct,” the clam said, cheerily. “I can live away from water for days. It was a joke. Did it lighten the mood? I’ve heard of jokes, but I’ve never done one.”
Lancer stared at the clam. Maybe the clam stared back, but Lancer didn’t know how that worked. He assumed they had the equivalent of a mollusk staring contest, though.
“I’m going to drown you,” Lancer said.
“That’s a joke?” the clam asked. “Because I can’t drown–”
Lancer grinned. Was he joking? No one needed to know.
“Did you need that woman?” the clam asked.
Lancer stopped, confused. “What woman? Jaylee?”
“The muddy one. I hope not, because she’s escaping.”
Lancer spun on his heels, looked towards where Isabelle should’ve been. In her place stood a goopy pile of mud, the seductress nowhere in sight. He stomped, angry. Argh! Well, they had Albedo, right? Double checking, he calmed a little bit. Not a happy calm, but with Jaylee around Isabelle shouldn’t be a problem.
“Let’s roll you back into the water,” Lancer said to the clam. “You were a big help. I appreciate it.”
“No problem,” the clam said, a hearty chuckle coming from somewhere. “I always wanted to go adventuring. Three hundred years without any fun gets you down in the dumps. Your friend can keep the pearl, too. She looks like she enjoys it.”
“Thanks,” Lancer said. “I’m sure she’ll like that.” To Rei, he added, “Help, please?”
Rei nodded, helping maneuver one side of the clamshell. Between the two of them they slid the clam into the water just fine.
“Is it bad that woman escaped?” Rei asked afterwards.
“It’s not good,” Lancer said. “Not good at all.”
Hopefully they could deal with it, though. This trip into Garde was too eventful by far.
[Note: This story is NOT ELIGIBLE for contest entries, but if you'd still like to comment that'd be great.]
“I daresay,” Isabelle said, “you’ve chosen the wrong adversary.”
She lifted her dress enough to retrieve a wand of lipstick tucked into a belt buckled around her thigh. Popping the top off the wand, she applied red color to her lips and pressed them together.
“You’ll never best me, and there’s few ways your friend can best Albedo, so we’re at a standstill.” Gazing at Lancer, an alluring look in her eyes, she returned the lipstick to its concealed spot beneath her skirt.
“I don’t see how you could beat me either,” Lancer said. “You can’t control rocks,” he added, regretting it afterwards, feeling childish.
Isabelle stared at him, then broke into harsh laughter. “You’re scared of a few rocks, is it? Your fear is misplaced. You know nothing, my little boy.”
Lancer knew enough to end this here and now. He gave her the benefit of the doubt with the lipstick, but no more. Sure, his parents taught him not to hit girls, but they also told him to think for himself and be willing to re-evaluate his beliefs depending on the circumstance. Seeing as Isabelle planned to spherebind Jaylee and him and use whatever screwed up concoctions to test charm experiments on the people of Garde, he felt validated in his reconsideration.
“A rock,” Isabelle said, Lancer approaching her. “may only harm your body.”
Closer, a few more steps, and he would sprint and tackle her to the ground.
“While I,” she said, zealous, “will wreak havoc on your soul.”
Lancer crouched, preparing to stampede into her. At this, Isabelle brought two fingers to her lips and blew him a kiss.
Lancer’s senses tumbled like the wave of earth Albedo shoved forth minutes before. He staggered, dropping to his knees, and clutching his chest. His body shook. He felt like his heart would explode at any moment. Everything seemed awful and he knew, in his core, the center of his mind, that nothing would ever be better.
The world, his existence; none of it mattered. The reservoir to his right looked appealing, a means to end his torment and pain, except it was too far. He couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to throw himself into the water and wait to drown.
“You see?” Isabelle asked. Her voice was a bright beacon drawing his eyes. “Love is only one emotion. Simple, easy, wonderful and enjoyable. Love is not absolute, though. The smell of pleasantries and amazement entertains everyone all the same, but what of life’s other offerings? Do you think anyone cares about the scent of despair? Depression, anger, anxiety, bravery? Boredom has a smell, did you know?”
He remembered now. Isabelle had that ability, a sphereshift for love and affection. If she could exhilarate, it stood to reason she knew how to do the opposite, too. Except what did it matter? If Lancer pulled through, he had no chance afterwards. Jaylee might control Albedo for awhile, but she was inexperienced and Isabelle held vast knowledge. Just looking at her, mature and womanly, Lancer knew she was better. People denied it, but a person’s looks said a lot.
“The problem,” Isabelle said, strutting forwards, her heels clicking against the cobbled ground, “is I dislike violence. It amuses me to seduce a man and entice him to act a certain way for promises of more. This–” She kicked his shoulder. “No fun. If you’d fetched the pearl and given it to me, we could have avoided this altogether. You’ve forced my hand.”
Lancer nodded feebly. He’d brought this upon himself, deserved it. He should’ve listened, should’ve thought. Now it was too late. Forlorn, knowing no alternative, he hit his head against the ground, cutting his cheeks and forehead on a few stray rocks. Someone called to him, but it made no difference, because soon it would end. His neck struggled to raise his head again.
The rocks beneath him burst into dust. When he slammed his face down, it scattered into the air. Chalky clouds surrounded him, filling his eyes and nose. Tears streamed down his cheeks and he closed his eyes to protect them.
He sneezed. Once, twice, more, until the dust settled, leaving him with a congested nose and watery eyes. He jumped up to get away from the ground in case that happened again. What a dumb thing, though, to hit his head into a pile of rock powder.
“Thanks, Albedo. You’re really nice,” Jaylee said.
Through hazy vision, Lancer saw Albedo gushing. “What are you talking about?” Lancer asked.
“If you can’t smell, pheromone sphereshifts stop working. Albedo crushed the rocks into dust so you’d sneeze.”
Lancer blinked, both confusion and dust and tears. “Uh?”
“Serious?” Jaylee huffed, looking like she wanted to hit him. She pushed Albedo instead. “”Look, Lancer. The sneeze got her scents away from you, and now you have a runny nose so she can’t do it again. Go be useful instead of standing there.”
Oh. That sort of made sense. He wanted to wipe his nose with his shirt sleeve, maybe wash his eyes in the reservoir, but in light of Jaylee’s explanation it appeared that’d have to wait.
Isabelle backed away, a sensual smirk on her lips. “Just a game, boy. You win. That’s it. You and your girlfriend are free to go.”
Lancer sprinted, wrapped his arms around her waist, and tackled her. Plowing into her and lifting her up in the process, he slammed her into the reservoir. Sputtering, Isabelle spit up water and flailed in the shallows.
“Would you please?” Jaylee said sweetly to Albedo.
Mud oozed up, coating Isabelle in a layer of muck. The sludge continued until it covered her entirely, leaving a spot for her head. She stood poised in the water, an inert mud monster, unable to move. Her reddish brown hair trailed behind her in the breeze.
“Let’s find my dad,” Jaylee said. “We can’t leave these two here.”
Lancer nodded. “I hope everyone’s alright.”
This is my review of the kinetic novel, Juniper’s Knot. If you’d just like to check it out without reading my review, then there’s a link at the bottom of this page.
(There are some spoilers in this review. If you’d rather not read them, then please don’t. I’ll change the font color of the spoilers to one that shouldn’t show up easily, with a *SPOILERS* tag before it in regular color. Highlight the “hidden” text if you want to see what I wrote)
In case you don’t know what a kinetic novel is, it’s sort of a mix between a graphic novel and a visual novel. Think of it like a comic book. If you’ve played RPG games, it has many similarities to the dialogue sequences in those, minus the choices you’re sometimes offered.
Overall, it’s pure story, though. The characters’ expressions change depending on what they saying, and the scenes shift at times, but you should think of those as nice additions as opposed to the main focus.
First, I’d like to say I have no idea what the title Juniper’s Knot means. It’s a catchy title and I like it, but from what I can tell there’s nothing in the story that mentions it. I tried to look it up and see if maybe it was the name of those logic problems that are fairly popular(i.e. like the one about a farmer who has two sheep and a fox and needs to get them all across a river, but he can only hold one other animal in the boat with him at a time. How’s he do it, then?). Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything, so I don’t think that’s it, but maybe there’s something more to it.
The story starts from the perspective of the fiend. She’s never given a name and always referred to as fiend, so for simplicity’s sake that’s what I’m calling her. Anyways, Fiend is thinking to herself, going about her everyday business(which is none too happy, somewhat depressing), when suddenly she hears someone. As it turns out, it’s a boy(who is also never named, except as person, so…).
In the context of the story, Person has reason to be scared of Fiend. Like many other stories, in this one fiends are often treacherous and evil and enjoy eating souls. When Person first mentions this to Fiend she laughs it off, but later she admits to them doing it *SPOILERS* (But apparently they only do it for pleasure, and only when the soul of the person is seasoned through experience and things like that. Some fiends apparently obsess over it, though it seems Fiend does not. I guess it’s similar to a person enjoying a food delicacy. Some people are gluttons while others are content with never having rich food at all, and still more are somewhere in between)
The story progresses from there, with Fiend begging Person to stay for awhile and tell her a story. He does, though in an interesting twist he tells her a story of a fiend who tricked a man and and then ate his soul, afterwards moving on to go to a farm. The rationale behind a fiend going to a farm is unknown, and both Fiend and Person seem confused about why one would do that. A nice little bit there that gives some great perspective on how they both think. I imagine them both contemplating it in their heads, Person thinking how the fiend intends to trick the farmers so he can eat their souls and Fiend wondering why a fiend would want to go to a farm randomly after inhabiting a nice spot in a city.
The more interesting part comes when we learn Fiend is trapped in that area, doomed to stay there forever, because of a punishment bestowed upon her. She can’t leave a circular area on the ground, which keeps Person feeling relatively safe staying around her.
About halfway through, the perspective switches to that of Person, who holds our attention for most of the remainder of the novel. It does switch to Fiend again at the end, but that part is a lot smaller than her initial part.
I won’t go into too much more personal detail after that, but the story was artfully told and the expressions throughout were nicely done. Every time you move on to the next bit of text(which you’re allowed to control at your leisure, and rewind if you missed something), there’s a good chance one of the character’s expressions will change.
I actually had a gripe about this, though. The text is easy to understand, especially as to who is speaking(color coded with a chat bubble arrow style thing going on), but the text is always in the bottom center of the screen and the characters faces are quite a bit higher than that. Perhaps it’s because I went through the novel in fullscreen, but I found myself rewinding often to catch the expressions. What I ended up doing eventually was keeping my eyes on the two characters first whenever I moved on(which entails hitting a mouse button or enter on your keyboard) and reading their dialogue after, but this was still a little awkward to me. I’m used to reading subtitles in anime, but for some reason it’s easier to catch both the reading parts and the action parts in those, at least for me.
Aside from that, I loved it. The story had some really interesting sequences. It’s not a high action story by any means, but there is action in it, along with drama and emotion. The characters are somewhat stereotypical, in that Fiend is an attractive demon girl who is somewhat tsundere and Person is a young, naïve boy who’s got to prove himself and tries to act like he’s not scared of anything, but I enjoyed that aspect. Both characters are different enough from the norm that I didn’t find them cliché in a bad way.
I think the best part of the story comes at the end, with the reader allowed to consider the events before, the lines said, and what they think might’ve happened. The story eludes to more and shows off this interesting, lush background for the characters, but much of it is never flat out stated.
*SPOILERS* At one point, Fiend goes into details about what she’s done, both good and bad, and then says that none of that is the reason why she’s trapped in the circle. I don’t know if my thoughts are in line with the author here, but at one point Fiend mentions tearing down an olive tree that grew upon a grave she dug for a human girl she loved. The olive tree was “ugly,” she says, and so she tore it down but didn’t want to destroy the roots for fear of disrupting the human girl’s grave. When she came back again at a later time, the tree had regrown, uglier than before. I think this might be the reason for Fiend’s punishment, though as it’s never said this is just theorycrafting by me.</span
*MORE SPOILERS* Another reason I believe this is that at the end, in his quest to free fiend, Person brings back an olive sapling to plant in her place so something will be there(to leave the circle someone has to take her place, and Person theorizes that maybe it just has to be something alive instead of an actual person). Fiend seems surprised at his choice of tree and Person shrugs it off as her thinking of it as irony or a taunt against her, but he assures her it’s because olive trees are sturdy and if anything can grow in the circle, it’s this(another bit about fiends in this world, they sap up the life energy of the land they stand upon, which isn’t so bad except that if they stay in one place for a long period of time the land becomes barren).
Juniper’s Knot isn’t very long. I read/”played” through it in less than two hours. It’s still very deep and interesting, though. If you’re into psychological/emotional stories with interesting characters that grow a little along the way and have intriguing backstories, then you’d probably like this kinetic novel. It offers quite a lot for what it is. It’s also free and independently made, so that was great incentive for me. Seeing as my serial story goes along the same lines, I thought it’d be fun to check it out and put up a review.
Saying all of that, on a scale of 1-10, I’d definitely give Juniper’s Knot a 9. I might be biased, but it really worked for me and hit all of the points that I enjoy in a story. The art was completely in the styles I enjoy, the story was interesting and easy to read, and the loose ends it left open to make me think were all very entertaining to me. I enjoyed the music and sound effects too, though I honestly can’t remember a great deal about them because the story captivated me so much. Perhaps others might rate it a little lower, but I still feel, regardless of your inclinations, if you’re willing to give it a try then you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how good Juniper’s Knot is.
And here are the promised links:
[Note: This story is NOT ELIGIBLE for contest entries, but if you'd still like to comment that'd be great.]
Lancer and Albedo squared off, entering into an old-fashioned bout of fisticuffs. Albedo swung time and again, a smug look on his face. Lancer did everything he could to duck and dodge away, using his craggy surroundings to fend off the blows and save him from danger. This did little good. Albedo missed Lancer, that much was obvious, but each punch that hit a rock splintered the thing into countless shards. And some of those shards―as if a gauntlet of rocks wasn’t advantage enough―stuck to the mitt, forming an amalgamation of smooth glove and spiked additions.
Everyone said, Lancer thought while avoiding a grab for his elbow, when the gloves were off it meant someone was serious. Albedo seemed more serious with his on, though. People said the dumbest things and he never understood why.
Lancer countered with a punch, a testing blow to see what would happen. His knuckles eluded Albedo’s guard after the man sent a reckless assault towards his torso, then crunched against the hard sheet plating covering his chest. Albedo laughed then, twisted and malevolent.
So much for that. Maybe Jaylee had some good ideas?
And then it occurred to him while Albedo stood mocking him: Isabelle had spherebound him with a pheromone sphereshift. Jaylee freed him, of course, because Jaylee was wonderful and beautiful and amazing, except he hadn’t always felt this way. In fact, he distinctly remembered not feeling this way an hour ago. That whole schoolwork thing and how it bothered him when she rested her chin on his shoulder to survey his answers.
Suffice to say, this upset him.
Albedo could wait. The man wanted to insult him anyways, doing nothing but laughing for a good ten seconds thus far, so Lancer returned the favor and turned his back on him. He strode towards Jaylee, dashing over jagged ground.
She and Isabelle were arguing. With comparable sphereshift specializations, they apparently had little they could do to one another except catfight or partake in a verbal spat. Neither looked willing to start the former, what with Isabelle’s primmed nails and Jaylee’s innocent inclinations.
“Look,” Lancer said, interrupting them. “I know you used sphereshifting on me. Now, I still love you, alright? I want you to know this. But you can’t go around doing that without telling me, you know?”
Jaylee stared at him like he was blitzed. Isabelle regarded him with one upraised eyebrow.
“Really, now?” Isabelle asked, amused.
“Lancer, I–” Jaylee frowned. “It’s just, um. Watch out, watch out!”
Lancer knew this, what it meant; Albedo. He jumped to the side, assuming a fifty-fifty chance of picking the right direction, and hoped he wasn’t wrong and about to take a massive blow to the spine. As it so happened, he chose correctly. Albedo swung downward, an overhead strike, hands pressed together, but he floundered when he hit air.
“Look, Lancer,” Jaylee said, about to say more.
“I don’t think it’s time to apologize!” Lancer said, kicking at a slightly unguarded section of Albedo’s thigh.
“Alright, but–” She bit the edge of her bottom lip. “Oh, oh, oh! I know what to do!”
“Sure,” Lancer said. “I like that plan.” Details were extraneous.
Lancer did what he needed to do while Jaylee did whatever she intended. Albedo had stumbled after Lancer kicked him, but he found purchase on a near boulder and halted his fall. When he returned to standing, the things on his hands looked more like the ball of a morning star than any regular gloves.
Lancer didn’t even know if he could outmaneuver Albedo’s attacks anymore. The man strained somewhat while wielding the gloves, but he also used sphereshifting to make them less unwieldy. The range at which Albedo could attack had increased, along with the area. Maybe Lancer should just run, but he didn’t want to leave Jaylee behind.
No more options, all out of–
“I love you!” Jaylee screamed. “Please don’t hurt him!”
Yeah, yeah. Maybe Lancer loved her, too. He didn’t know because of that whole sphereshifting business, but it felt nice and tingly and he could go with it. Except―wait, what? Don’t hurt him! Argh, that made no sense. Jaylee, a traitor? Doubtful, but this day was too strange by far.
“I won’t!” Albedo pleaded, crawling on hands and knees. “I’m sorry. I won’t hurt him. Please, forgive me?”
Lancer puffed out his cheeks, huffed, looked confused. Well, whatever, if the guy loved Jaylee there wasn’t much he could do. He was a bit old for her, though? Kind of gross when he thought about it.
Isabelle stared at Albedo and sighed. “Idiot.” To Jaylee, she added, “Right. So you can play love games with the pearl. Do you think you can keep it up forever? I tire of this.”
Ha! Oh man. Jaylee was good! Lancer grinned. She’d never sphereshifted like this before, at least that he knew of. Except, wait, hrm, had he ever felt odd feelings towards her in the past? Maybe? She smelled nice sometimes, and her hair was bouncy, but no ew probably not.
“Lancer, you take care of her and I’ll take care of him,” Jaylee said.
Lancer nodded. He could do that. This seemed a better idea. Isabelle didn’t have rocks and rocks were his newfound mortal enemy, so this would work.
Isabelle smiled when he went to face her. “Ready to play, little boy?”
*An essay written by Evander Roche, one of the lead sphereshift analyzers of Garde’s Sphereshift Realization Directorate*
Doll sphereshifting is a specialty sphereshift that the Sanford–otherwise known as the Archaic–discovered after a decade of practice.
It should be noted that no one can create life. Doll sphereshifting, as Sanford performed it, does not produce life, but speeds along an already established organism utilizing advanced techniques in water and earth sphereshifting. As an additional engaging note, the earth and water spheres are considered extremely basic under comprehensive sphereshifting. This makes this variation of both impressive in terms of pure scope.
Doll sphereshifting requires a key component as its catalyst: namely, the seed of a plant, preferably a tree. After much deliberation, trial and error, Sanford determined that the acorn of an oak tree was best suited, though it is possible this sphereshift could be accomplished using a variety of seeds, keys, or acorns.
Now why an oak acorn? I have acquired a list of the benefits. They are, as follows:
Easily cut and shaped when new/”green”/unseasoned
Great strength and hardness following aging
Resistant to insect and fungal attacks
Highly attractive grain markings
Common and simple to attain
As noted, these are all beneficial(superficially or practically)in the execution of doll sphereshifting, the initial two being key to the process.
Before I continue, please be cognizant of the fact that doll sphereshifting is controversial. It is not a sphereshift the median citizen should attempt on a daily basis. Doll sphereshifting irreplaceably cripples the body and recreates a new, outer oak shell in its place. More on this will be discussed further on.
Now, the simplified process.
First, the acorn(or your desired seed) must be inserted into the chosen person’s body(the subject). This is best accomplished through whole consumption. Sanford’s methods involved coating the acorn in chocolate to make it more palatable and easier to swallow, though other methods surely exist.
Second, the sphereshifter must use a water sphereshifting and earth sphereshifting to coax the acorn to grow, and at an exponentially accelerated rate. The theory behind this is to utilize earth sphereshifting to break down minerals in the subjects body(flesh and otherwise) and water sphereshifting to seamlessly combine the minerals into their body’s water and bloodstream. During this time the acorn will feed off of the subject’s flesh and blood, attaining nourishment from both and supplanting the former as it flourishes. This process is extremely delicate and if executed improperly may, in a worst case scenario, result in the cessation of life. The oak acorn works admirably during this step because of its malleable nature in its younger state.
Third, the sphereshifter must continue the aforementioned process while at the same time urging the rapidly growing oak tree to encompass the same form as the subject’s body. This is when each intricate detail is contracted. Like any other movable doll, the subject must retain a wide range of motion. This is done by a rudimentary pruning process wherein the sphereshifter thins and expands the growth of the oak depending on preconceived norms for each bodily component. When performed properly this results in the subject acquiring similar appearance to a ball-jointed doll or a marionette.
In the conclusive stage, final touches are added. With the oak having supplanted the subject’s body and hardening, the replacement of flesh with wood, there is still a need to supply the oak with a sustainable source of nutrition. Immediately, the process is halted with the goal of conserving a thin layer of flesh beneath the oaken shell. The body’s natural reaction to a loss of skin is restoration, and doll sphereshifting relies on this as the natural replacement process will provide the oak with a constant source of nourishment(along with the oak nurturing itself off the water in the subject’s blood). Once finished, the cycle should remain self-sustaining and the subject may begin living their new life as a “doll.”
A further interesting note is that a person who undergoes a doll sphereshift should, theoretically, attain a higher threshold for pain than the median citizen. With the skin shielded by an oaken shell, no nerve endings will be easily accessible and in general the person should be unable to feel most regularly painful stimuli. As an addendum, due to the manner in which the oak sustains itself, there should exist the occasional dull ache throughout the body while the tree nourishes.
Additionally, theoretically, because of increased weight gain from the oaken shell, a person who has undergone a doll sphereshift will likely notice an increase in physical stamina prior to their muscles and body adjusting to compensate. The long term effects of this are unknown, though it is doubtful the muscular strength will increase past the necessity of adapting to the oak’s weight.
Other side effects are unknown at this time. Unfortunately, because of the symbiotic nature of the oak tree sustaining itself through subject’s body and the body adapting to the oak’s protection from its now otherwise insufficient quantity of skin, it is unlikely a doll sphereshift can be reversed without incurring fatality.
I found this on another site and it looked fun, so I figured I’d try it out
This is the Lucky 7 challenge according to author Julia Kavan:
1. Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript
2. Go to line 7
3. Post on your blog the next 7 lines, or sentences, as they are – no cheating
4. Tag 7 other authors to do the same
Skipping step 4, but oh well. And this is for the manuscript that I’m currently editing(my first novel). I might add others, depending.
After warming up, she decided to do rounds of sparring. Not only did she find it useful to know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, but she really wanted to hit something. Excitement fueled her. She watched and allowed others to fight first, but when her own chance came she flattened her partner to the ground in less than ten seconds. It made her wish Kurtz was present so they could show them how things were done. Wishful thinking, yet it made her happy.
Satisfied with their performance, she dismissed everyone when they finished showing their skills. A lingering soldier on the outskirts of her training grounds approached as everyone left. She saluted them and smiled.
These are 7 lines from page 77, 7 lines from the top. (I’m not sure how I feel about this, it’s not that exciting of a part)
Albedo’s rage was something Lancer would have preferred not dealing with
Preferences didn’t calculate into this situation, though, only needs, and at this exact moment he needed to dodge the rock projectiles swarming towards him.
Chunks of rock at Albedo’s feet rose into mighty stalagmites, ready for him to rip into pieces and hurl. And he did just that, grabbing the burgeoning tips and sending a barrage of jagged daggers at Lancer.
Lancer thought he might have an advantage here, though. Or at least he could recognize Albedo’s deficit and act upon it. No matter how quick the man conjured rocks, he could only throw them so fast. Albedo was thin, obviously not used to physical exertion. Lancer avoided each missile with relative ease.
Unfortunately this angered his enemy further. Albedo abandoned his throwing and flung the rocks in monstrous waves instead. Sphereshifting, swelling the ground up and heaving it forward, he sent it crashing towards Lancer.
This, Lancer had no answer for. He ran, sprinting for safety. The ground rose high above, shadows overcoming everything. When he thought he couldn’t run anymore, the rocks slowed and fell from their lofty height towards the surface where they belonged. Slag and crust smashed down. Narrowly avoiding his own destruction, Lancer dove forward. A wave of rocks shattered behind him as he crashed into the unmoving earth up ahead.
With skinned elbows and cuts on his hands, Lancer struggled to regain his footing. He couldn’t take much more of this, didn’t know how he should deal with someone whose pure potential outmatched anything he could muster. How did you fight a man who could pit the ground you walked on against you?
As dust from the dirt wave settled, Lancer spotted Albedo. The suited man breathed hard, straining to stay upright. Whatever control he had over the earth, it seemed to take its toll whenever he exerted his full sphereshifting ability.
“Are you quite done?” Isabelle asked, her voice a seductive trill through the crunch of tumbling pebbles. “Do you need help?”
Albedo tossed his hand in the air, a frustrated gesture towards Lancer. “Get on with it, will you?”
Isabelle favored Lancer with a delightful smile.
Lancer ran. He wanted to run. He crossed a distance of no more than ten feet when the delirious smell of vanilla with a hint of jasmine swirled up his nostrils. Curious, he thought. Odd. It smelled so nice and pleasant. He wanted to―oh yes, there it was.
Isabelle called his name, sensual and alluring. “Come here, my sweet boy. I’ve a present for you. You won’t leave me, will you?”
He wouldn’t. He couldn’t. A string of fervor pricked his heart then thickened to rope and bound him in full-fledged captivation. He wanted to see if she loved him, too. If he listened, did as she bid, how could she not? That’s how it worked, right? Ideas flitted through his mind, details of tokens of affection and heartfelt actions he could use to ascertain she acknowledged his love.
Lancer walked towards her, enthralled with her face; heart-shaped and lovely with radiantly red lips. No flowers blossomed here, but he would promise them to her, promise her a million red roses if she’d only wait for him to pick them.
Lovestruck, Lancer paid no heed to Albedo’s newest attempt on his life. The ground surged up and took the shape of hands on either side of him, ready to clap him in the middle like a man squishing a fly.
He stopped, halted. Something―what was that? He couldn’t tell, wasn’t sure, but his head filled with dreams. Nothing abstract, no curious ambiguity. Simple, to the point, and the most wonderful ideas he had ever dreamed. He saw Jaylee standing next to him in a dress as pure and white as snow with a lace veil covering her face. People sat in seats in rows at either side of them with a kindly man standing at an altar before them. He looked at Jaylee, saw a shyness in her eyes he’d never seen before but knew he wanted to see forever after.
“Lancer!” Jaylee’s screams shot through his daydream. “Run! You can’t die on me!”
Lancer would do anything for her. If she ordered him to live when he was on the brink of death at the age of ninety-four while poisons coursed through his veins, disease wrecked his body, and a guillotine stood poised to remove his head at any second, he would have overcome it all and stayed alive. Her disappointment was the worst thing he could imagine.
The earthen hands clapped. Lancer sprinted between them to safety, advancing on Albedo and Isabelle.
“What happened?” Albedo asked. “I thought you had him spherebound?”
Isabelle huffed. “I did! It should have stuck. That girl, though. That atrocious reprobate. She’s got the pearl and she’s using it to overwhelm my charms.”
Lancer frowned. Why would anyone insult Jaylee? He turned to comfort her, offer her a smile to let her know none of it was true and everything about her was wondrous and beautiful.
She looked at him―she looked at him!–and flashed an awkward, amazing smile. Panic soon overrode her happiness, though. “Lancer, you idiot! Don’t look at me. Look at them! Look at–”
A gauntlet made of stone pounded into Lancer’s chest. He staggered backwards but managed to keep his feet.
“You’re useless,” Albedo said to Isabelle. “I’ll finish this. The child can barely stand. A few hits will break him. You deal with the girl and then we leave.”
Lancer looked up to see Albedo clad in stone armor. Thick gloves and greaves, with thin sheets of rock for a chestplate and legguards, and a burnished winged helmet resting on his head.
This wasn’t looking so good.