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    Nora Hill
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The gift is finally revealed! Why is it glowing? Drake will have to explain (he loves explaining).

Thank you to everyone whose stuck around during the sporadic updates these last years. Life is settling nicely for me this year, so I'm trying to make a point to start working on it regularly again. My goal is to make it back to the weekly updates I had at HF's peak.


re Xylas_Incarnum: you seem to have anticipated Joan's next though. Sadly, Solifidians are influenced by humans, and have picked up some of our idiotic traits like bigotry.

re man in black: thanks!

re pfmoi: Drake hates politics, but is deeply invested in family status, so he hates being on the council, but won't allow himself to be removed. @books: Its always conflicting/disappointing when a series that is doing good things in terms of new ideas and/or representation fails to deliver on what its trying to do. Its like I want so much to like you but... just don't

re Eva Emaria: Whenever I think "snobby Solifidian" my brain always says "elves!" I'm raving Romulus' reveal for later.

re StellaFrost: Fate would probably be the most neutral of all the patrons (kinda part of her gig I guess), so I suppose things could go either way. I suppose I'll see if there's a nice little moment for her.

re Arrikanez: I'm trying to emphasize their jerkiness since I want to deal with the political situation they create without approving of what they're saying.
Updates are are still limping along. My summer break starts soon, so I hope to return to some level of regularity. Thanks to everyone who has patiently stuck around!

Drake's political allies are basically elitist, racist jerks.

re Onasaki: Not this time, but he does have a similar falling out with someone else who will be showing up shortly.

re pfmoi: ooh, what was that story? sounds like something up my alley

Eva Emaria: I was very happy with how she came out on that page!

re man in black: thanks!

re Imola: I had fun drawing it!

re StellaFrost: I'm looking forward to it too!

re Arrikanez: I hope to give you satisfactory resolutions to all those questions!
Archie, you gossip.

re man in black: both are very clear on their priorities

re Xylas_Incarnum: and their political pressures were quite nasty, as we shall see.

re Imola: He might be ok. Looks like Drake more didn't realize it was something he should mention instead of wanting to keep it secret.

re pfmoi: The gift box gets some suspense before its reveal

re Eva Emaria: a glass sword could either be terrible or leave some really terrifying wounds

re StellaFrost: gossip is his only source of stress relief
D: missed the Friday update. Going to try to make it next time.

re Stardreamer: ominous and delicious!
re Onasaki: I feel like the fluctuating temperatures make it worse. One day its heavy coats, the next, t-shirts or you die if heat stroke
re Eva Emaria: Maybe its a flower sword made of glass
re Imola: Archie is all about the manners
re Charoi: Going to try to keep the updates going
blackpickles: And most of my friends in other states are freezing, but that just makes me jealous. I couldn't wear my awesome Christmas sweater :( it had robot dinosaurs
re Allteair: I've also been working on it since I was in high school. I'm glad you've stayed with it so long.
re Charoi: oh no! I'm going to have to find my backup disk. Drake was intimidating the villagers into backing down.
re StellaFrost: Its good to be back!
re neonmalice: Thanks you!
Going to see how Friday updates workout.

re AJL9324: glad you think so!

re Stardreamer: New Years was solid and 2017 seems to be off to a good start! hope yours is going well too!

re man in black: thanks!

re Skittsue: I'm trying to set a good pace. So far things look good.

re Onasaki: Just had to turn my air conditioning on in the middle of January. Seriously missing Cali

re LtVonRozen: thanks!

re Imola: Its good to be back Nr. 67587568

re Eva Emaria: thanks!

re tygermon: We should be seeing a few of them soon.
Well friends, I've returned to bring some life back to my poor neglected comic. My New Years resolution is to try and get back to posting weekly updates. Lets see how I do!

re Andera: and then I went a disappeared again >_< I'll try to do better this time.

re Kadtie: Thanks! I always get nervous posting pages like that.

re Larscis: Thanks for sticking with it so long. I hope I haven't lost you this time!

re neonmalice: Sorry to make you wait so long for this one!

re StellaFrost: Thanks! Not sure about the forum. I'm going to try to build up some momentum on the updates, then work on polishing up other parts of the site like the forum.

re Arrikanez: Hanging out with the vampires is always tense.

re silverdragon1: oh nifty! I guess the whole shadows, claws, and shapeshifting thing got us thinking in similar ways.

re Onasaki: Hope you had fun in California!

re doom Bubbles: thanks!

re pfmoi: >_< Sorry about the long wait!

re tygermon: Life is hard when you're a scary vampire.

re blackpickles: Thanks!
re man in black: Dragons are quite formidable beasties

re Skittsue: her powers are going to keep growing, but luckily she will get a bit more control too.

re Imola: thanks for the catch!

re Eva Emaria: Dragons could be extra testy, but they were much more direct about it.

re Arrikanez: Glad to be back! hope you continue to enjoy it.

re StellaFrost: its like the biggest no no
A bit of a text heavy to end the encounter. I'll try not to do too many of these, but since I know my updates are slower, I'm trying to increase the pace of pages.

Joan's nerves are manifesting in a dangerous way. Mina is the individual who Joan has felt the most worried about. Teddy was never than intimidating, and Archie has made an attempt to be friendly. Drake started off pretty aggressive, but she has gotten used to him.


re Aline1: poor Joan is not used to being at the bottom of the food chain.

re man in black: wise indeed

re OtakuNeko2499: glad to have you back!

re StellaFrost: she made the mistake of upsetting a psychic

re Kadtie: Glad you like it! I spent some time thinking about how to show psychic powers since they're invisible.
second update of the summer, on track for another update in a week.

Drake is ready for some exposition on the next page or so, but I'm curious to see what you all have gathered/think about this little encounter.

re LtVonRozen: The comic may limp along at times when life gets busy, but I've spent too much time on this comic to ever abandon it totally, never fear!

re man in black: thanks!

re Stardreamer: honestly, I'd be pretty ok with it, but interacting with any speceis that eats humans is tricky

re Skittsue: yup! one of the traditional vamp powers is some form of psychic ability, and Mina has really focused on developing those abilities.

Imola: Mina is all about the practicality.

re Eva Emaria: Joan is showing quite a bit of moral inflexibility. Coming to terms with a species that eats people is kinda tricky.

re tygermon: I'm glad you kept checking in too! I was really worried about loosing folks who had been around for so long like you.
I return from the void!

I'm very sorry about the long silence. Life has been very busy, but all in good ways. I will be using my summer break to try and do regular updates and build up a bit of a buffer. Updates may slow down once the school year starts, but I won't be making my lessons from scratch this time around, so I should have enough free time to keep the updates limping along. Thanks to all of you who have stuck around during the long hiatus.

I'll have more to say about this conversation after the next page.

re Imola:its been a long 10 years :) Despite her rather severe attitude, Mina devotes a lot of effort into avoiding the darker vampire tropes.

re Xylas_Incarnum: The blood basically ties them to Bahamut. Animal blood doesn't have enough of a connection, and Solifidians have too strong a connection. In addition to whatever special properties the Solifidian species might have, the blood basically overloads their systems. Human blood falls into the "Goldilocks zone:" not too weak, not too potent.

re Arrikanez: too much purity power. It would kill them all :(

Kadtie: Mina is more than capable of pushing against Bahamut and tropes when she doesn't like the path they ere pushing her down.

re doom Bubbles: If only I weren't anemic. Wonder if I could get a medical exemption.

re Crowfeatherwolf: yup, storytelling traditions are always shifting, and recombining, so Solifidians are likely to come under all sorts of influences. However there are also the limitations of reality. Mina is perfectly capable of pushing back and limiting tropes she doesn't like (such as kidnapping)

re StellaFrost: Mina puts a lot of thought and effort into pushing back against the more destructive vampire tropes.

re Skittsue: thank you for your well wishes and for sticking around for all these years!
And I return. Many apologies for the huge delay. Life got crazy but not in a bad way. I started my new teaching job, and I got a puppy! I am having a blast with both, but they are huge time sinks. I'm starting to get a handle on things again time management-wise, so hopefully updates will get a bit better, but they may be spotty for a while yet.

A lot of you anticipated something along these lines. Mina takes a very methodical approach to things. Anything that might tap into the more monstrous side of her or her subjects is avoided as much as possible. We'll have to see what Joan thinks of all this.

Both Mina and Archie are mildly sunlight tolerant. They won't burn up, but it weakens them considerably. Archie gets to be there for the signing of the contracts because he is the super bureaucrat (and has the most recognizable hand).


re troblsomtwins829: Sadly, I've removed that option for out dear vampires. They're going to have to go a little darker to survive.

re man in black: As much as she tries to avoid that fact.

re Onasaki: They're a little wary of volunteers. That often is a warning sign of some odd mental issues.

re Xylas_Incarnum: yup, pretty much

re Arrikanez: Looks like you and Mina are on the same wavelength.

re StellaFrost: I hope Mina's solution lives of to your high expectations of her.

re Kadtie: Drake is looking a little nervous about the direction the conversation is taking.

re Eva Emaria: I agree about the animal blood being a cop out, so I've made it not an option here.

re Imola: yeah, it started off so strong, but the updates have certainly trickled over the past few years.
sorry to worry you guys. Started a new job and got a puppy, so I am actually doing quite well, but swamped. Going to try and get the next update done soon
And Joan addresses the elephant in the room.

Stories with "friendly" vampires always have some sort of non predatory feeding method for them. With modern settings its usually raiding a blood bank or something. That doesn't really work with this setting, and I never liked that approach because there's a blood shortage, so they're still hurting people by using up vital medical supplies. I'll be interested to see what you think of Mina's system.

I'd also like to hear what you guys think of Mina. what sort of impression has she made so far?

I qued up this update before going on vacation, so no replies until I get back (sorry!)
Joan is a little concerned.

Poor stressed vampire bureaucrats. Not all vampire stories have them combusting in sunlight (Dracula for examples goes out, he just can't shapeshift), so some bloodlines in Hurrocks Fardel deal with it better than others. For even the sunlight tolerant vampires though it still has some negative effects, so they kick up a fuss. They're often used for patrols because its not as much of a problem if they are stranded without shelter.

re Onasaki:Cower before Drew the mighty dragon! Phoenix is good at playing politics to get what he wants (he's not super powerful and doesn't have any other phoenixes to ally with, so he has to work through manipulating others). Elves are even more touchy than he is, so some manners go a long way towards getting what he wants.

re Xylas_Incarnum: Oh yes. they were going to watch the Lion King, but Abali objected to how the hyenas were portrayed. They settled on Wall-E since it lacks dubious animal representations.

re StellaFrost: He's playing his little politics game. When dealing with elves it always pays to be polite, and getting their support for his war is a big deal.

re Lusewing: Oliver likes testing Drake's temper. He knows he wont come to any serious harm, and riling him up is a lot of fun.

re man in black: Good thing vampires keep their buffet table well stocked.

re Kadtie: Drake loves his family time, even when his popcorn gets stolen.

re Arrikanez: They're all felines, feline like (as I draw my dragons), or canine, so a cozy couch pile is right up their alley. Food always perks up Drake.

re Eva Emaria: Phoenix is in political mode (so yeah, its a good idea not to trust him). With elves it always pays to be polite, and he does need their help to pull off his little war.
a few minutes later Drake punched Oliver and popcorn spilled everywhere. Nei sat on the two of them until things calmed down while Abali made more popcorn. Oliver and Drake's relationship is probably closest to the bickering sibling standard out of all of Drake's surrogate family.

the first panel took a while, lots of people all crammed together is a pain, but I'm pretty happy with the result.

I decided to put Drake with family units on the team.

We've got Oliver and Nei, who are brother and sister. Nei is in her true form because I felt like drawing it and I was running out of room on the couch. I went with a fully lion body for the sphinx, but she ca also take a midway form that follows the human head design.

Abali is with her husband and two children, who we haven't seen before. Her husband, Seamus, is a Grim/Black Dog. Before the Shadows War, Solifidians didn't see themselves as a unified group, so intermarriage between different races/species was rare. During the Information Age there was more interaction and an increasing identity as a larger group. Intermarriage became more common, but was not without tension from more conservative Solifidians. Because all Solifidians have a human form, there is possibility for mutual attraction and romance across all Solifidian species, but not necessarily children. There have to be some similarities in their true forms for that. Abali and Seamus are both mammalian (and though hyenas are classified as felines, not canines, there are strong similarities) with psychopompic abilities. They essentially represent the same mythical type, just from different continents, hence kiddies. The kids are named Styx (boy) and Lethe (girl), but often are refereed to as Styx and Stones. I drew Styx in his true form to show that too (darker than standard hyena coloring and more canine ears and tail but with the hyena mane and spots). Lethe's true form is darker (almost pure black, so the spots aren't as visible) but with more rounded hyena ears.

Some generic elves for the war table. They're a numerous group, so getting their support was a big boon for Phoenix and co.

Re Eva Emaria: Sail on majestic crack ship. I've designed Drake and Phoenix to have a lot of similarities, which will become increasingly important over time, but the key difference is their interaction with others. Despite his prickliness, Drake is fiercely protective of those he forms attachments to, while Phoenix doesn't form emotional attachments. For me, that's a major determining factor in the capacity for redemption.

Phoenix has gotten slighter in my drawings over time. I'm trying to get a bit more variations in builds, and it matches his avian origins and his role as planner, not muscle.

Drake could get very scary when one of the group was in danger. Talking him down was Mina's primary responsibility, Oliver's too once they built a rapport.

Re Xylas_Incarnum:
Trickster is probably one of the safest bets for hanging out and having a good time, but woe betide anyone who upsets him. He is probably the nastiest (and most creative) when he's in a vengeful mood.

The fantasy genre generated some power for Solifidians, but make believe isn't as powerful as true belief, and those games/books don't always cover a wide variety of mythological creatures.

Re avian-reader:
It is a little Matrixy now that you mention it. They're not as controlling as the machines, but disabling human tech prevented any substantial rebellion. I think setting it from the Sol point of view helps a lot with the grey area element of the story. I'm glad you like it.

Re man in black:
indeed it would. lots of fire and big pointy teeth.

Re Arrikanez:
Aylis and Oliver seem to be cut from the same cloth. Having Oliver around was very helpful for Drake's mental state.

Re Mina_Linga:
I like drawing the tattoo when I'm in a patient mood, but otherwise, yeah Drake needs to keep his shirt on, or at least face to that I don't have to draw his back.

Re Opal Rowan:
I'm glad you've found it again! its lovely to have you back. I'm honestly not sure if going back to grey scale will be faster. I'm trying different approaches to try and find a more efficient approach. I'll be getting a tablet in a bit and may try drawing directly on the screen.

Re Onasaki:
I'm trying to imagine Drake as a blond. I'm pretty sure his tail is a remnant of my DBZ phase all those years ago.
Felt like drawing Nei's wings and Drake's tattoo, so here they are.

Didn't have enough time to get an extra time before going out of town this week, but I did que up this regular update.

replies (apologies to anyone who responded after Saturday, I'll reply when I get internet access again)

re Xylas_Incarnum: true, although whether "personal" is positive or negative probably varies on the archetype.

re man in black: I think most folks are scared of death, but its an inevitability for everyone except Phoenix. That makes it extra scary for him.

re Onasaki: The middle fellow is just a generic Solifidian (I felt like going in an elven direction). Archie was a little goth even before turning. I though a long time about Phoenix's post-regeneration age. I decided that his true form reverts back to a baby bird, like in the traditional stories. However, he retains his memories, and since human forms are artificial constructs by the Solifidian, he keeps the appearance of an adult (this also is easier from a storytelling point of view).

re Arrikanez: I need to show more of Phoenix's dickish side. People are liking him too much.

re Eva Emaria: oh you and your phoenix crack ship. At least he's got someone on his side since I think he's a big bag of dicks. He's back to his elitist self on this page (even got Nei to pull her wings out, which she only does when she's really irritated). I spent a lot of time practicing drawing feathered wings. I think they're the hardest of the varieties.

re tygermon: He's just a generic Solifidian (sorry Julius). I ended up feeling like going in an elfy direction. I'm glad you like him!
Shadows war stories! Drake already covered thus briefly a while ago, but I felt it deserved a quick recap/expansion.

Gotta put those books back so you don't upset the vampire librarian.

Also, I noticed that a kinda crazy looking "you're all going to hell" website was using the add space here. I've blocked them from advertising here again and I'm sorry if anyone was offended by them.

I' going to try and get one of those bonus updates I owe you guys done this week too.


re Onasaki: I was gonna make some of them serious, but it didn't feel right, so happy it is.

re Eva Emaria: I think a lot of us have that in common with Joan. At least we get to live in a world with more available books that Joan. This library is a huge treat for her.

re tygermon: I'll have to check it out. I haven't tried drawing ponies before.

re Arrikanez: Joan is certainly one of us book worms, and the poor girl lives in a world where there is a serious shortage of books.

re DirtyLittleSecret: I'm glad you like the comic (and Drake :) )

re man in black: Medians have a strong tendency to be bookworms. That's why Archie dropped her off at the library.

re Xylas_Incarnum: While all worshiped gods exist in Hurrocks Fardel, Solifidians and other magic users tend to worship the Archetypes (like Fire and Trickster). Like you were talking about, these gods are amalgamations of similar gods across many different pantheons.

re Crowfeatherwolf: From what I can tell, there are a lot of varieties of runes. Given that Hurrocks Fardel is all future and post apocalypticy, my main consideration when choosing runes was visual. The other main magic related thing I've used so far is Drake's seal. Its based roughly on the Key of Solomon.
and I was doing so well updates wise for a while. I think I should be back on track.

Also, I'm planning on going to Houston's Space City Comic com. I won't be doing a booth or anything, but if anyone is going, drop me an email so I can say hi!

Group photo of Drake's group during the Shadows War, or at least most of them. We've met Mina (in charge of the mental stability of the team and also uses her psychic abilities for interrogation), Archie (sniper and infiltration), and briefly Oliver (tech support and sabotage). Drake was the team's heavy hitter. A brief introduction to the others, moving left to right:

Abali is a bouda (hyena shapeshifter) with psychopompic (think grim reaper) powers. She handles demolitions and can use her psychopomp powers to create a :spirit bomb" that kills the people in a controllable blast radius without inflicting any physical damage. Her husband, Mort, sometimes helps out. Mort is a grim/black dog and is not in the image because he has to watch the kids, who are absolute terrors (also, I was running low on room, so "sidekicks" got cut).

Merneith (aka Nei) is Oliver's older sister. Unlike oliver, who is a "runt" and turns into a caracul, she is a true sphinx. She is more integrated into the pride than her brother because of this, but has decided to come keep an eye on her trouble-prone brother. Her sphinx powers make her highly adapt at warding, and she is in charge of physical base security.

Romulus is a Solifidian-human hybrid. Like most hybrids, he doesn't know his exact solifidian ancestory, but it's wolf related. He handles general jobs.

Bruno is a unicorn. Most unicorns go into medicine, but Bruno specialized in poisons and bio weapons.

Puck (not the Puck, is just a common fae name) is a variety of fairy with distinct butterfly traits. his coloring is monarch-like. He handles illusions for the team.

We kinda know Phoenix already. He's the one who assembled the team and directs operations.

they're all in a relaxed human form, not hiding things like ears, or in Puck's case unnatural skin tones.


re Stardreamer:I think the short answer is every type of book. They aren't well equipped to handle immortality and get terribly bored.

re Xylas_Incarnum: ok, I'll see if an oppotunity for him pops up!

re tygermon: no problem. I like drawing your fellows (and thank you for your generous donation again! I'm going to try and build a buffer so I can do some extra updates). Now that I'm back in an drawing mood I might do another one, anyone you'd like to see?

Julius should come hang out (I've been neglecting it, I'll have to go get Drake active again)

re man in black: safer at least.

re Mina_Lunga: I am taking full advantage of shadowy vampire atmosphere to alleviate background work. I'm going super old school with my Bahamut depiction. The original myth describes him as a giant fish carrying a stack of animals with the eatch on top.

re Crowfeatherwolf: runes are tricky because sometimes they resemble letters and sometimes they are misleading. These say "preserve." Runes tend to be simple, and well suited for carving, which is why I chose them for the shelves. I enjoy studying magical traditions around the world, but don't personally practice any. The magic I use in my comic is ofter things that are interesting, or that best fit the needs and context of the story.
Shadowy shield wolves are not a pleasant way to wake. Poor Kainan.
oooh, I do adore plague doctor style masks.