The Way to Kumas Part II

      Below the canopy of the trees, the sparks struggled through the kindling. Growgash snorted in frustration at the mercenaries' attempts to light a blaze large enough to roast their dinner. They had refused help from her and the priest and apprentice, not that their employers had really offered any. Jaxom spurned their company as he did not trust the look of them.
      With the blaze finally lit and the small game they'd caught eagerly devoured, the company settled for the night. Growgash drew first watch and Jaxom stayed with her as he was next. As she unsheathed her sword for cleaning, she noticed the blonde man inching towards her.
      “You're a brave one, to approach me when I have my sword out,” she eyed him.
      “You think I wouldn't notice you staring at me earlier. You orcs have curious taste in mates...” her ears pricked at his hot breath. “But you're attractive enough, and a good fighter.”
      “Unlike some I could mention...” she looked across into his dark eyes. Very few human men were equal to her height, let alone taller than her. The canopy of the dense forest trapped the heat from the day and her leathers were chafing badly. A bead of sweat dropped from the man's chin onto her hand. On the other side of the fire there was movement.
      The priest and his apprentice awoke and took up positions on opposite sides of the fire. Then steepling their fingers they began to mutter in unison. The younger mercenary peered from under his blankets nervously while his companions buried themselves in irritation. Abruptly the chanting stopped but the two worshipers remained at their posts. From the corner of her eye, Growgash saw a spider's silken web stretch and billow outward without aid of a breeze. Indeed, the air all about them seemed deathly still and the fire seemed dimmer by the moment.
      Beyond the ring of protection black shapes formed and lumbered closer. Growgash and Jaxom lept up, swords ready as the older men rubbed sleep from their eyes and crawled to their weapons. No matter how tightly the younger man held his sword, the blade quivered in his grip. Now the shadow figures towered over them, still obscured by the darkness despite the rapidly dwindling fire.
Simultaneously the priest and his charge jumped to their feet.
      “Leave! Now! We cannot hope to fight these beasts!” and they did so, dashing away from the fire. For a moment the shadowy figures arched over the blaze, then swallowed it in pursuit. There was still light, however. Ahead of the soldiers, Growgash saw the bag slung over the priest’s shoulder. It glowed brightly with the same blue light from before. What's more, it was moving, as if a knot of snakes were writhing inside.


Let's Play Broderlands Episode 2

"Mad" Matt Winchell and I continue on to Skag Gulley. What will we find there? Treasure? Weird alien creatures? Rogue human elements? Yes!


City of Heroes Profiles: Vellum

“A shadow slipping from corner to corner.
A glimpse of darkness in the night.
A curious little stranger in this strange world.
Only Vellum knows his own might.”

      I've been leveling Vellum for quite a while now. He is a Dark Melee/Dark Armor Tank created in 2009, around the same time my friend Bob created the super group House of the Wayward Soul. A living shadow visiting from a distant void, Vellum fit right in with the House's theme of strange and off the wall characters. He's been raiding the fridge, “borrowing” salvage supplies, and teleporter hopping ever since.
Vellum atop a building in Steel Canyon

      Vellum was created during a time of turmoil and altitist. Restlessly, I moved from character to character, experimenting with different power sets and trying to stay alive in a city that wanted my heroes (and villains) dead. I remember the first build, a haphazard application of slots to powers I didn't need. In particular, I selected the stealth pool power, which was later overshadowed by a similar invisibility power in the Dark Armor set, making it redundant. This was in addition to a myriad of enhancements that, while they fit with the powers, didn't play well with each other. In other words, while Vellum could do damage, he couldn't hit, couldn't block, and suffered from a massive drain of endurance every time he activated his shields or threw a punch. Vellum couldn't survive, and thus, was a failure of a tank. Out of frustration, I shelved him and moved on to other characters.
      Then “Drenivian” came to the rescue. Dren, also known as “Ed Boy” or “Edward” is a real life friend of mine (as well as that of Matt, Bob, and “Namiru”), whom I first met at the University of Wisconsin Anime Club in 2003. Dren was able to walk me through a quick repec of the character and also took me and Matt through some missions to learn how to tank properly. I also started crafting Set Invention Origin enhancements to improve multiple aspects of a power at once.
      But now we get to Vellum's origin. He is a living shadow from another dimension where only two light sources exist amongst the darkness. Every now and then, these two light sources cross over each other and wipe out most of the darkness between them.

      Vellum's people have been visiting Earth and other similar planets for quite some time now. His interest is in studying human society, and where better than Paragon City? Here, he can observe humanity at its best, and its worst, as well as how humans deal with attacks by outside forces. The Rikti are invading, although what they want is yet unknown to our hero.
      Being a living shadow, Vellum can take on various shapes and forms, including a flying beast. 

He's even able to manipulate darker colors to create his near human angelic female form.

 At first he was only able to travel and explore his surroundings at night, due to the brightness of an Earth day. 

Even then, he had to be cautious about traveling through underpasses and under street lights, for fear of disappearing. There is a solution, though. Vellum has begun pouring himself into human clothing and wearing a rubber mask. He hasn't quite gotten certain aspects of the human body down, particularly eyes.

      During his travels at night, Vellum has had his share of run ins with the Clockwork, in many of their forms.

 He's also had to tough it out with Trolls, villainous societies bent on world domination, and centurions. Civilians have nothing to fear from him, although his appearance maybe strange. So if you see an odd looking man with eyes black as a void, don't be afraid. It's only Vellum, and he's just curious about you.