I asked my amazeballs artist buddy Brandon Lacey (who designed The Cycle of the Six Moons cover art, check ’em out here!) to come up with some character concept for an upcoming high fantasy “Blood Princess” (working title).
Here are two main characters, Khalida and Lake (with Astra).
Khalida is, well, a princess. A chubby–albeit beautiful–princess. Lake is her mentor who has an animal familiar named Astra. In the exercise below, I wrote her as a “falcon,” but I’m open to changes since, again, this is all very early concept. Brandon drew her with some beautiful plumage, which I am aaabsoooluuutely fine with.
Given Brandon’s previous work with Shantae fan art, belly dancer types, and full-figured women, I thought it’d be a fun idea to get him involved in the creative process for a story still very early in conceptualization. (I’m querying agents for The House with Two Faces, so I’m just keepin’ busy in this very long and slow process.) Plus, Brandon’s just really fun to work with. (Check out my other posts on working with Brandon for The Starriest Summer, An Eclipsing Autumn, and The Last Winter Moon!
I think Khalida’s design was easiest for both of us to come to an agreement. The fiery colors just work for her.
Lake’s colors took some playing with, but I like the result here 😀
As a writing exercise centered around the word “hot,” I wrote this fun piece that, in some way, will probably end up in the final story.
Steaming, jasmine foam trickled down the sides of Lake’s body onto the hot stone slab beneath him. He nearly inhaled a mouthful of bubbles when the attendant splashed cool water over his back. The shock rejuvenated him with all the energy he needed for the nighttime festivities ahead. Lake’s pulse quickened as he mentally rehearsed his performance with Astra. His golden falcon shimmered beneath the bathhouse’s geometric dome ceiling, and her amber eyes blinked lazily as she watched the cloud of soap disappear from her master’s head.
Fully rinsed, Lake ran his fingers over his exfoliated arms. His skin was reddened from all the scrubbing, but it was smoother than he could ever recall. However, the delights were his only, as soon enough, his ceremonial robes would cover every inch of his body.
“Let us dry off in here,” he called to Astra. She swooped down from the ceiling and into the hot chamber next door.
Once he left the washroom, the water on Lake’s body began to evaporate. He threw on his sheer under robes, which immediately stuck to his skin. As he smoothed out the wrinkles and fastened his belt, Astra rose to the ceiling to gulp cooler air. Lake would have to hurry back to his quarters before the heat overcame him and he would want to take another bath.
Thinking of the crimson robes hanging in his wardrobe, Lake waved to his falcon. “Come, Astra.”
A high voice gasp came from above. “Lake, it is you!”
Already startled from a girl’s voice, Lake slipped on the tile when he saw stubby, tan fingers folded through the holes of the geometric ceiling. A pair of large, emerald eyes peered back at him.
“Your Highness!” Lake sputtered.
This time, heat of embarrassment washed over him. He covered himself as modestly as he could, scrambling back to the washroom and out of the princess’s sight. Astra remained by the ceiling of the hot chamber, munching on a newt that Khalida had slipped her. Khalida’s giggles echoed into the room, and the bemused attendant watched Lake with a dripping bucket in hand.
“Your Highness!” Lake spat, more sternly this time. “Do you realize how improper this is?! To climb the men’s bathhouse! To see me in such a state!”
A giggle rang in each of Khalida’s words. “What are you going to do? Tell my mother?”
Lake’s voice deepened gravely. “How much did you see?”
“Oh, Lake, I told you, the only birthday gift I wanted from you was to see your face. I knew you were handsome! Come out so I can see you again.”
Lake could feel his whole head swelling with blood. Anyone could see through his sheer robes, but the princess was so naïve that maybe the only thing she cared about seeing was his face.
The attendant inched closer to him, wearing an expression that said, “Is that Princess Khalida?” Lake nodded to him.
“A very happy birthday to you, Your Highness,” Lake called to her. “Now, please, would you allow me some privacy so you may see me again fully clothed? And please take caution in climbing down the roof.”
Khalida giggled. “Certainly! Thank you, Lake! I’ll see you later.”
The men stood in silence as Khalida blew a kiss at Astra. They heard rustling in the trees overhead as Khalida jumped off the roof and climbed out of sight.
Lake exhaled all the air in his lungs and slouched forward. The under robes adhered so closely to his drenched body that bubbles formed beneath the cloth. Lake started to peel the robes off and told the attendant, “I need another rinse.”
You can find Brandon on DeviantArt as blue-paint-sea. He’s currently open for commissions and is an absolute delight to work with. Give him a holler!