April 10, 2011

Weekend Workshop: Flight to Clandestine

Another weekend, another workshop! As you may have noticed, there was no weekend workshop last week. This was due to some personal issues (Cyrus' sex change was a little rough on him/her) so we decided to call it off. So, we've changed the titles to reflect the date since instead of the actual number of the project so as not to confuse you, the wonderful viewer. :)

This week, Cyrus laid out the theme. It had a very Final Fantasy feel to it, which was interesting for me because I've never played a FF game in my life. But, having watched a few cinematic sequences and hearing friends talk about it I decided to merge some of the visual elements with some story elements from The Legend of Zelda, basing the piece off a story I've had in my head for a while. The story is intended for a yonuger audience, as you can tell from the word substitution (I decided to take a break from big words). 

Anyway, now that I've given you a walk-through of my side of things, here is what Cyrus came up with, accompanied with the parameters and the resulting story, "Flight to Clandestine". 

THEME / PERIMETERS
  • sky pirates
  • a mix of high end and low end tech - but lets not refer to it as 'steampunk' 
  • think airships, propellers, final fantasy games etc etc
  • not massively epic in terms of numbers - but potentially epic in terms of scale
  • if this was a game, this would be the escape sequence 
  • feel free to add any 'sword and sorcery' elements you want
  • a minimum of 750 words AND 90 minutes work - that is, if you have done writing before then, spend the rest of the time refining the little bugger. feel free to write as much as you want though.
  • i in turn will do a minimum of 90 minutes postprep - that is, after finding any reference images etc or creating any custom brushes i may need. im also looking at some screencap vid software - so i MIGHT be able to do a vid of me working - depends on whether my system will hack it with ps on the go too
See the step-by-step process on Cyrus' blog!

Flight to Clandestine

The city of Tristen, one of the greatest cities in all of the land, was one of the most prosperous, fair, and good places you could ever imagine. Every day, its streets were filled with friendly townspeople who visited the market, their friends, or simply stood and gazed at the magnificent shining sea that bordered their fair town. Standing watch majestically over them stood the castle Cloudtop - perched atop a great, green hill like a stalwart stone guardian protecting them from danger. The day had started out as wonderful and welcoming for all just as countless many before it had… except for one small soul who darted through shaded alleyways for fear of his life as the castle guards chased him.

“Hey you! Stop there!” the guards shouted as they pushed their way through the crowded streets in pursuit of the young boy wanted for crimes he did not commit. Marcus was his name. He ran across the cobblestone streets as fast as his nimble legs would take him, darting through the alerted passerby looking for an escape of any sort. More guards made their way down from the castle atop the hill, shoving people aside to get to him. He found himself caught in the middle of them, with few options left.

Think! Think! He urged himself as his eyes darted around the town in search of an escape. The alleyways were overcrowded with crates and jars full of goods for the nearby markets and the rooftops of the nearby buildings were at least two stories tall – too tall to climb onto. He was sure that they would catch him now and feared what they might do to him. It was then that suddenly, to his left, he spotted his salvation.

The dock!

He took off; the fear of capture giving him the strength he needed to outrun the guards who drew closer and closer by the second. When he reached the dock, he ducked behind a crate out of sight of the guards knowing that, in seconds, they would be upon him. But he had bought himself a few more seconds that he did not intend to waste. His eyes passed over the ships docked before him, bustling with busy deckhands and dock workers. He knew they would stop him immediately if he tried to run aboard, but he had to get on one of those ships. It was the only way out now.

Then, out of the corner of his eye, something caught his attention. An open container sat alone on the dock, waiting to be filled with goods and loaded onto one of the large boats docked in the city’s harbor. He gathered all of his strength and dove towards the crate, tucking into a roll as he hit the ground before it and disappeared inside. He could hear the heavy footfalls and yells of the guards from beyond the crate’s wooden planks as he pulled its lid closed over the top of him.

“Did you see him? Where did he go?” a guard barked at one of the nearby dock workers.

“I didn’t see nobody come through here.” One of them responded.

“Search the dock – he couldn’t have gotten far. Check those crates!” the guard ordered.

Marcus swallowed hard at the sound of crates being torn open and searched near him. They would surely find him now, and there was nowhere left to go. He heard heavy breathing just beyond the crate and tensed, ready to leap out and dash away at a moment’s notice when suddenly, he heard another voice.

“You there! Who gave you permission to search my cargo?”

“I did – by order of the king!” The proud guard proclaimed.

“Then I presume he no longer cares for the condition of his spices to be delivered to Pelaham? The same voice questioned him.

“His spices?” the guard repeated the words, sounding puzzled.

“Yes. He urged me to get them there are quickly and in as good of condition as possible. I would hate to inform him that his goods were spoiled by a careless guard.”

“Er… uh…” the guard stammered stupidly.

“Now that that’s settled, I must load up this shipment and be off or he’ll have my head... and maybe yours too.”

Marcus sighed heavily, feeling safely concealed inside of his hiding place once again.

The guard grunted with annoyance.

“Search the water. Maybe the little bugger dove in and is swimming away right now!” he ordered the others.

The guards’ footfalls grew more distant as they walked along the length of the dock on a hopeless search for him.

Marcus barely had time to celebrate before he felt himself being hoisted up suddenly. He braced himself against the sides of his hidden sanctuary as he was carried aboard the ship. The air beyond the crate grew cold and the light, dim. He peeked through a small slit to see that he had been taken to the underbelly of the ship. The men carrying him sat him down in a stack of crates and then exited, leaving him alone with his thoughts.

What a mess I’ve gotten myself into. He thought, reflecting on the events that had gotten him here in the first place.

It hadn’t really been his fault; but his longing for adventure that had gotten him in this mess. He was prowling around the castle late at night, looking for secret rooms and treasure that he was sure existed when he noticed a strange light coming from one of its tall towers. So, like any good adventurer would, he went to investigate it. Using the grappling hook he had brought with him, he quickly and quietly hooked it on the window sill above him and climbed up the tower wall. When he reached the top, he peered inside and saw what he thought at first was a shadow, but later realized was actually a man in dark robes standing over the king as he slept.

He watched for a few moments as the man muttered things under his breath and colorful magic crept from his fingers. He was fascinated by it, having never seen any magic beyond the occasional tavern trick, but then he witnessed something that startled him. As the man reached towards the king his hand became exposed. Marcus gasped when he saw its skinless hand reach towards the king, probing his face with a bony, white finger.

“Stop!” he blurted out suddenly.

The creature turned towards him, startled. The king awoke suddenly, sitting up as he began to search for the maker of the sound he had heard. When he saw the shadowy figure standing over him and Marcus staring back at him through the window, he must have thought Marcus was some powerful magician who had conjured the shade to do his evil bidding.

“Guards!” the king shouted as the robed creature evaporated into a cloud of black smoke and he grabbed his sword.

“Your majesty! I saw the man in your room and-“ Marcus began, urgently.

“What are you doing up here? Trying to kill me in my sleep?” the king accused him.

“No your majesty! I-“

“You will not get away with this!” he said as he ran towards the window. Marcus slid quickly down the rope as the king swung his sword at him and dropped into a bush at the bottom of the wall with a thud.

“Assassin!” Marcus heard him shout from the tower above him.

Before he knew what was happening, guards appeared out of nowhere in pursuit of him. He had been hiding from them all morning, flitting from shadow to shadow like a mouse. While he was hiding, the guards had posted wanted pictures of him all around town, offering rewards for his capture. It hadn’t taken more than a few minutes after he had come out of hiding in search of food for someone to recognize him and alert the guards. He didn’t know what the robed creature was or what it was doing in the king’s chambers, but his overwhelming sense of curiosity urged him to get to the bottom of this so that he could return to Tristen a hero… not an assassin.

Suddenly, Marcus could feel himself being shaken awake. His eyes popped open and a large, white-bearded man stood over him.

“I didn’t do it! It was the robed man!” Marcus shouted and scrambled away from the bearded man.

“Whoa lad! I believe you if you say so!” The bearded man said calmly. “You’re safe now. My name is Kentley – and I am the captain of this vessel. And who might you be my little stowaway?”

“Marcus…” Marcus said as he slowly took in his surroundings.

He looked around the ship’s deck to see deckhands hard at work. They paid no attention to him, being far too occupied with their current tasks. Slowly he began to stand, but quickly collapsed back into the smooth deck of the ship when he realized that it was not ocean that they were sailing through.

Kentley erupted into jolly laughter, throwing back his head and resting his hands on his big, round belly.

“Expecting something else, were you?” he laughed as he extended his arms outwards to showcase the ships surprising ability. “This is a skyship, young man. We’re bound for the Great Spire!”

“The Great Spire…?” Marcus asked, perplexed.

“Aye! It’s our city in the sky. Atop it is sits the city of Clandestine – our home!” he said, proudly.

Marcus rose cautiously to his feet once more and timidly approached one of the golden railings encircling the skyship. To his amazement a colorful, silky wing stretched outward from the ship. Though rigid, it fluttered gracefully as the wind caught beneath it. He gathered the courage to lean slightly over the railing, and was amazed again to see a pair of propellers swirling dizzily away at the back of the ship. Clouds passed beneath the ship like a wispy sea, parting as the ship continued along its course. He had to look away when a hole appeared suddenly between clouds beneath him and he saw the entire kingdom far below him. From this height they must have looked like nothing more than a bird flying high up in the sky.

“We’re nearly there. You may want to hold on to something!” Kentley cautioned him with a smile.

Marcus ducked down, holding on to the railing as if his life depended on it. The ship began to moan and groan as an enormous shadow covered it. Marcus gasped as a large, stone structure emerged from behind a curtain of clouds. The Great Spire!

He dared another brave glance over the side of the ship and found that its base stood atop the very tip of a large mountain he had never seen before. It rose high into the sky like an upside-down needle and, nestled within the needle hole, rested a small glittering city. After a few minutes, Marcus quickly began to realize that the city was anything but small. The small, glittering rocks quickly became large spires that dwarfed the ship and, indeed, anything he had ever seen in all the land. Marcus’ eyes remained fixed on the magnificence as the city, unable to look away as the skyship quietly came to rest within one of its many docks.

Kentley rested one leg on the tip of the ship’s bow and held his arms out as if to hug the city he called home.

“Welcome to Clandestine, Marcus!”

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