Monday, December 10, 2018

Hayate Reflections: A Review of Hisui Hatsushiba

This week, let's take some time to take a look at one of the earliest (in terms of timeline) appearances of the main villain of the final arc. She is none other than Nagi's ultra-violent and super greedy cousin, Hisui Hatsushiba.

Based on appearances and context clues in the manga, it can be surmised that Hisui is probably around the same age or possibly even younger than Nagi. She is the elder sister of "Jenny" who looks nowhere near her age based on Nagi's recollections at the time that she found Tama. Also, there seems to be little family resemblance there. Hisui's face may look menacing, but she's also petite (a little bit shorter than 14 year-old Nagi), has the same body type as Nagi -- and if you really look at her, she's actually pretty cute.

Furthermore, Hisui is an expert hand-to-hand combatant and seems to prefer wielding a scimitar in a fight. She is able to stalemate Hayate when he is actually being serious before she gets her huge power-up in the final arc that basically makes her "the strongest" according to Himegami.

In any case, that's enough about that Hisui -- right now, we're going to look at the Hisui from an earlier time. From a time when she was just Nagi's childhood friend -- albeit, still one with hyper violent tendencies. Still, many people seem to misunderstand her character and count her off as nothing more than a cookie-cutter villain. Therefore, this week, Hayate Reflections seeks to challenge that viewpoint.

For this reason, we're using chapter 529. This is a flashback story and it begins with Nagi reflecting on how much of a weak crybaby she was when she was much younger. Some boys had made fun of her manga and she was walking off alone -- crying. That's when Hisui asks her why she was crying from way up a tree. Nagi is shocked to see that Hisui had climbed so high up, but she replies that the view from there was breathtaking. Nagi tells Hisui about what happened and that's when a group of four boys from the party appear before Nagi and start bullying her about her manga again -- even snatching it out of her hands in order to make more fun of her. When one of the boys shoves Nagi, Hisui decides that she'd seen enough and catches her friend from behind. 

She also quickly snatches the manga away from the bullies and gives it back to Nagi while telling her that if she doesn't like something, then she has to fight. Now the bullies, being bigger and older decide that it's fair game to punch a girl -- and so, the biggest of them smacks Hisui right in the face.

So at this point... this is the point of dissent between myself and most other reviewers of this manga. At the time this chapter came out, all that people were obsessed with was how extreme Hisui's response was. For me however, this was the first time that I saw a more human side of Hisui and this was the chapter that elevated her from being more than just a mere cookie-cutter villain. Also, I believe that the ending -- chapters 567-568 prove my point. Hisui was still Nagi's friend even after she'd resigned herself to being a true villain and she was instrumental in giving Hayate's parents the poetic justice they deserve.

In any case, what happened next is that Hisui basically picked up a giant rock as an equalizer and proceeded to beat the living hell out of those four boys. Hisui reiterates that if you don't like something then you have to fight. Nagi is hesitant because she says that stuff like this will happen (getting punched in the face) if you try to fight back... but what Hisui says next is really iconic. She says that it's fine, then you just have to keep fighting until you win.

So yes, Hisui basically beat everyone up in a very bloody manner off-panel -- however, despite the violence, it should be noted that Nagi's feelings at that time reflect the real message of this chapter. In her own words, watching Hisui beating everyone down by force -- all she felt was admiration.

So allow me to explain -- Hisui represents an indomitable will to fight back against adversity. She was facing four bullies, boys, bigger, older -- and probably stronger than her, but she refused to give in because she knew that her cause wasn't wrong. She did it not only for petty revenge, but in order to show Nagi the value of standing up for one's beliefs no matter the odds.

Certainly, this indomitable will would one day become an omnipresent trait in the spoiled, rich Nagi Sanzenin ojou-sama that we came to know and love in the series.

Of course, Hisui's character development is still shaky at best. Because of how rushed the ending was, various characters and subplots weren't really given the chance to fully develop -- and unfortunately, Hisui was one of the unfortunate victims of Hata's non-stop train ride to the Hayate and Nagi ending. 

Still, it is worth noting that even as she is, she wasn't really a bad character-- just that her potential was never fully explored in the story.

So that's Hisui Hatsushiba for you. A villain through and through -- but also someone who stays true to herself and makes no compromises to get what she wants -- at least that much about her is admirable. Also, she's cute. Even Hata-sensei agrees.

Fanart Corner

Got some new fanart to show off. These are both inspired by Avril Lavigne's new single PV Head Above Water. Heh, I've always liked her music and she's not bad looking either.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Happy Birthday Nagi! 12/3/2018

Naturally, I would never forget mai waifu's birthday. Also, my tweet got noticed by Hata~ Huzzah! Anyway, see you next week. Here's my painting process of a HayaNagi pic for Nagi's birthday.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Hayate Reflections: Watercolor Painting Nagi Again

I've been absent for quite a while due to IRL stuff. Anyway, I haven't had much time to continue my fiction mini-series (conclude, actually) but that might change this weekend. For now, I hope you'll settle for this short video.

Finished product at the bottom

Berkeley Watercolor Pad. I don't think this is artist grade, but I have no idea what brand of watercolor paper I should use anyway.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Tale Of The Prince's Bride Chapter 6: Listen To The Voices Inside

November 11 is Hayate Ayasaki's birthday, btw. Happy birthday, ex-butler and Nagi's lover.

It is very confusing in the forest of lies. It is different for everyone who ends up inside. It is a forest that reflects the inner truth – the ones that most people try their hardest to hide.

At this point in the prince’s journey to find his would-be bride, he found himself in the deepest part of the Forest of Lies. He had been walking for quite a while with his trusty steed by his side. Finally, he understood the words relayed by the knight of red and white.
“Listen to the voices inside. This forest is fickle and it whispers ever so slight.”
The voices were quiet at first – ever so slight, but slowly, they grew louder, like insect wings in flight.
“Who do you love?” The voices asked in mischievous delight.

“It is none other than the princess in black attire.” Was the prince’s prompt reply.
“Why do you love her? This princess in black attire?”

“It should be quite obvious. It was love at first sight.”
“Love at first sight?” The voices cackled in glee
“And so… what is it you love so much about your bride to be?”
“She is funny, and whimsical, and kind as could be. This is why she means the whole world to me. “
“The truth is it now? Funny, and whimsical, and kind as could be? Dear, prince this is a lie, you see.”
“Whatever do you mean, oh voices that I cannot see? Are you perhaps, making light of me?”

“Not at all,” the voices whispered in glee, “For you see, how can you claim to know so much about your would-be bride, when you admit that you just fell in love at first sight? Tell the truth, sweet prince, or perhaps hide it, if need be, but in the Forest of Lies, you cannot disguise your frailties.”
The prince was at a loss. He knew that they were right. Just what is it that he actually loved about the princess in black attire?
At that moment, as if to clear his mind, a single flower floated down from the sky. It was pretty and frail with petals of yellow and white. He closed his eyes for a moment, waiting for the noise to subside.
And that is when it dawned on the prince with a beautiful face; the reality of the truth that he had to embrace.
At that moment, he looked to the path ahead with unclouded eyes. He could no longer hear the voices in whispers so slight. He had found his way past the forest of lies. This is the truth of the Forest of Lies. It is simply a reflection of what you truly feel inside.

Fanart Corner

Here's my digital version of Nagi as Ruby... not too sure if it turned out so well. Should have used a more 2D anime style.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Hayate Reflections: My Impressions of Tonikaku Kawaii

Just finished catching up with all the currently scanlated chapters of Hata’s new manga, Tonikaku Kawaii. It’s now up to volume 3, so if you feel like supporting the author of Hayate no Gotoku!, go ahead and order the manga online through your favourite hobby supply store.

Anyway, this week, I’d like to talk about my general impressions of Tonikaku Kawaii in relation to Hayate no Gotoku!

First of all, I must say that it’s a nice change of pace. There’s the fact that the romantic relationship between Nasa and Tsukasa is established from the very beginning and that no misunderstanding exists between them. The only real mystery is Tsukasa’s true identity and/or what she really is because there are hints that she might actually be thousands of years old. However, as to the two main character’s feelings for each other, it’s established from the start that there is romantic attraction between them, although at this point, I wouldn’t call it love yet. Actually, what they both admit is that they find each other cute – as per the title of the manga.

Nasa himself makes a good point about this. In his own words: “I didn’t marry her because I proved my love. I married her to prove my love.”

He has done a lot to try and prove his love for Tsukasa so far, but at this point, while the couple’s feelings for each other have not been really put to the test, I’d say they’re still a step behind what Nagi and Hayate had for each other at the end of Hayate no Gotoku! It’s not about how many dates they’ve been on, or a matter of how many romantic moments they’ve hard with each other. If an author’s idea of love is that it is to be counted based on quantifying the number of romantic moments that two people have had with one another, then I would stop reading anything ever made by that author – fortunately, Hata is not like that – at least based on my personal perception.

The fact of the matter is that the feelings that bound Hayate and Nagi was put to the test time and time again and at the end of the series, that bond was alive and stronger than it had ever been – that much, not even haters should deny – but they will.

Anyway, moving on, so far Tonikaku Kawaii is definitely a much lighter story to read than Hayate ever was. This is because there is no looming “bomb between them” that threatens to end in tears. With Hayate and Nagi, the misunderstanding between them was established from the very start, and then Hata kept on adding one complication after another into the plot – some of which were never resolved, but most of them, just adding on to that feeling of dread that either Hayate or Nagi would be seriously hurt once the big revelation came about – as it did in the final arc of the manga.

In the case of Tonikaku Kawaii, it seems that Hata took a route that can be pretty much seen as an antithesis to Hayate. First of all, the couple are already married and romantically involved with each other from the start. Secondly, any complications that try to set them apart get resolved almost instantly. There’s Nasa’s neighbour who had a crush on him and was quite dense and thought that Tsukasa was just his relative and that’s why she had the same family name as him. However, in the most recent chapters, she found out that they were married and her moment of heartbreak lasted for about one page. Nasa’s parents already accept Tsukasa and are very glad that their son chose to marry the person who saved his life. Quite the opposite of Hayate’s good for nothing parents. Finally, there’s Tsukasa’s non-blood-related younger sister who was concocting one scheme after another to get them to break up, but in the latest chapters, Nasa used his first-class communication skills (and sincere feelings for Tsukasa) to get her to accept him – possible complication solved.

If you were reading Hayate and got super frustrated by all the complications that Hata threw into the plot just to prevent Hayate and Nagi from getting together, then you’ll find that Tonikaku Kawaii is a breath of fresh air that presents the reader with a lot of similar situations, but which are resolved in a way that just makes you feel good. If Hayate no Gotoku was about building up anxiety under the façade of comedy, then Tonikaku Kawaii is the true definition of comedy, one that gives you a good laugh and also has you rooting for the main couple as they prove their love for each other no matter what complications may come their way – at least for now.

Anyway, this has been Hayate Reflections and this is lordcloudx out.

Fanart Corner

It's Halloween month, so have a dark angel Nagi. Inspiration for this piece came from the video for Ed Sheeran's "Give Me Love." Look it up on youtube and you'll see what I mean.

Bento Picasso Watercolors used.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Prince's Bride Chapter 5: The Knight of Red and White

It had now been quite some time since the beautiful prince entered the Forest of Lies. 

There were rows upon rows of tall trees whose branches filled the sky. What is more, the scenery seemed to look all the same after a little while. Still, with one goal in his mind, the prince kept riding straight forward without even batting an eye.
But even so, even with his strong desire to be reunited with his would-be bride. Even the resilient prince soon grew tired.

“How long does this go on? This Forest of Lies?  I have already been travelling for miles upon miles!”

He shouted out to the branch-filled sky, but only the echoes of his voice came back in reply. Soon, even his trusty steed, could no longer sustain its powerful strides. It slowed down to a walk, it was obviously quite tired. The prince dismounted from his noble ride.
“Old friend, you’ve been with me through all this time. Take a rest for a little while.”
A contented snort came back in response from the horse with fur of black slashes on pure white. The journey had been a long one and its eyes were beginning to shut tight.

“Still, I will not leave you here to die. Not inside this cursed forest of lies… so my friend, rest for a while – and when you have recovered, will you at least walk by my side?”

And with one last snort, the horse keeled over on its side. Within its once fiery eyes, the light had finally died.
“I’m sorry, my friend. If only I had not pushed you to make this long and tiring ride… and yet, if I can’t find my way out, then perhaps this forest will also be my demise.”
“Move, move, move, I say! If you don’t get out of the way, then you won’t even make it through this day!”
Suddenly, a lithe figure with a reddish cape, clad in chain mail of red and white, fell from the sky from such a great height.
The prince jumped up several feet high, and snatched the falling figure from right out of the sky.

“I daresay, miss… are you okay?”
“Huh? Oh? You saved me? I didn’t expect things to turn out this way. Still, I must thank you, stranger – and yes, I’m okay.”
The prince put her down on solid ground. The fallen knight looked all around, but her face was invisible – clad in helmet all around.
“What were you doing at such a great height anyway?”

“Ahem… well, it’s a rather embarrassing story, must I really say?”

The knight hesitated for a moment and she started fidgeting every which way.

“Sigh… I was trying to find my bearings, so I climbed up to one of those branches sky –high. It was to find my bearings, if you need to know why! Anyway, when I finally reached top, it suddenly dawned on me – why did I ever climb so high up?”
The knight hesitated again and fidgeted every which way, it seems she was really embarrassed by the next thing she had to say.

She pointed her finger at the prince with a beautiful face – and then cupped her right hand to her heart with a bow.

“Now, look promise me that you won’t tell a soul about the next thing that you will hear from me, okay?”
The prince could only nod in response.

“Okay, okay… I guess I really must tell you anyway. So there I was, way up in the sky – when I suddenly realized, I’m quite afraid of heights! So great was my fear that I started to shake, and that’s when I fell – and thought the next thing would be my funeral wake.”
“Umm… okay, was that really so embarrassing to say?”

“Yes, it was. It really was, okay?” The knight breathed a sigh of relief.
“But… at least I got that out of the way. So anyway, stranger. I couldn’t help but overhear your plight – your voice was reaching me from such a great height. Let me at least you give you one word of advice. I heard this from a hooded figure of rather childish height.”
“Oh, thank you, miss knight. Do you have anything that might help me conquer this forest of lies?”

“She said that you should listen to the voices inside. This forest is fickle and it whispers ever so slight.”

“The voices inside? That sure seems like a riddle that I’ll have to ponder for a while. In any case, thank you for that little insight.”
The knight nodded once in reply.

“Well then, if you’ll excuse me, stranger. I must be on my way. I don’t know about these ‘voices inside’ but if you ask me, I’d rather just force my way through this forest of lies.”
With that she drew her sword, which glistened in the light. It was bluish and translucent and seemed to shine from inside with a faint glow of pinkish light.
“Wait, before you go, won’t you tell me who you are, miss knight?”
“Oh I’m a hero of justice – just passing by. Anyway, stranger, I must be on my way. Bye bye!”
The prince waved farewell to the red and white knight, the one who was deathly afraid of heights. She ran through the forest swinging her sword of pink light as she slowly disappeared from sight.
Suddenly, the prince’s eyes lit up with delight, his trusty steed had stood upright.

“Dear friend! I’m so glad to see you’re okay…” he paused and looked to the path that the knight had made.

“Well then, shall we be on our way?”

The horse replied with a contented neigh.

To be continued...

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Think You've Got It Bad? - A Vent Post

I see a lot of people vent-posting, so why not? Also, read the whole post before you drop any of your pearls of financial genius wisdom on me -- genius. I'm posting to vent, not to ask for your unsolicited, unwarranted and probably annoying financial advice. Also, please don't include me in your prayers. I am an atheist and your prayers aren't going to change my mind nor "help" me in any tangible way whatsoever.

Furthermore, do take note that I live in a country wherein social welfare is realistically nonexistent and what happens if you can't make enough money to feed yourself or seek medical attention for serious injuries/diseases is that you die. If you live below the poverty line (which I don't), you'll probably die sometime anyway as target practice for the motorcycle assassins currently prowling the streets for anyone who even looks a little bit like a drug addict.

So... this is more or less what my bank account looks like near the start of every month (1 usd = 55 php so what I have here is a little less than 45 USD) -- and it's going to look this way perhaps for as long as I live or even worse, at least from the foreseeable future.

Now allow me to explain. This isn't my secondary bank account -- it's my primary and only one. I do not have social insurance. I do not have third party insurance. I do not have health insurance. I do not have any sort of long-term investments. This bank account is my one and only source of liquid assets. I live off of my salary as a freelance virtual assistant which is 5,500 php a week or 22,000 php a month. Aside from the food, internet, cable, and half of the electric bill, there are also some unexpected expenses that pop up every other month leaving me with more or less around 3,000-7,000 php a month. This month, there were a lot of expected expenses for the maintenance of our car and the renewal of its annual insurance policy, so it fell below the 3k line for a bit.
I once took out some kind of long-term investment/insurance scheme for 3500 php every quarter, but I found that I couldn't handle even that much, so I pulled out and since I hadn't paid off the threshold for the premium, I got nothing out of that. I just ended up paying 10,500 php to the insurance company.
So yeah, the bottom line here is that I'm in a position wherein I'm not realistically able to make any long-term investments for the future since I can't handle any more regular monthly, quarterly, or even annual expenses and I'm not and never will be in the mood to kill myself by working extra jobs on the side just to earn a little bit more loose change for personal expenses.
So what's my next step? I dunno... maybe I'll buy that one video game for the PS Vita I saw online (around 1000 php).
Wait... why am I thinking of buying video games, you might ask? Well, duh? As I said, I'm not in a position wherein I can change my financial situation realistically and none of your pearls of wisdom are going to be of any help to me (really, do you think I haven't thought about what you're going to advice me before? I've been there, done that, seen it all, so shut up and keep reading.) -- so forget about it. The truth is that I'm not at all dissatisfied with my current situation. After all, the financial aspect aside, why would I be?
I work some reasonable and very comfortable hours at my leisure because my employer allows me to do as I please with my time as long as I turn in quality output. We've known each other online for years and I'm a very valued and trusted colleague to her -- even if she can't pay me as much as a larger third-party business.

I can actually afford to eat out every single day and even have money leftover to buy an anime figure/ a video game, or some other premium item every other month.

I don't like brands/brand-name clothing/brand-name gadgets like Apple, Samsung, Oppo, Vivo etc. I'm actually quite satisfied with a Cherry Mobile or some no-rep chinese brand that offers medium to high-spec phones at low, low prices.

I have a good backlog of games to play and anime to watch. I can buy (most) artist-grade art supplies and have ample time to paint/draw the things I want to (mostly Nagi).

My Nagi Sanzen'in figure collection is complete except for some very hard to find garage kits (unofficial third party figures). I have relatively stable internet at home and I sleep in an airconditioned room in a very large house for just two people.

I drive a top-of-the-line (for Suzuki) car that handles very well and that I've customized with a peeking decal (1000 php for two large decals on the side windows) of mai waifu using my own CG art. I wear custom-made shirts featuring my own art every single day of the week.

I don't have a family to support. I don't have a pet, I don't have nor need a social life, I have no friends IRL and I only talk to a select few acquaintances from all across the globe online.

I don't dream of traveling the world nor owning a large mansion -- (our house already counts as one anyway) and I've never really felt the appeal of traveling to other countries. Unlike other otaku, it has never been my dream to travel to Japan nor am I even interested in local conventions.

I can continue to write my stories that no one (actually, at least one person. Thanks, Roop.) ever seems to be interested in reading (or at least even feels like letting me know that they enjoy reading them) and keep deluding myself that I'm actually a pretty competent writer.

I can make more and more videos gloating about the victory of Hayate x Nagi every week because cry all you want, haters but HayaNagi is canon and you were all wrong while I was right all along~!
I can still afford to pay for my domain name ( and I'm even a developer on Google Play with my own visual novels up both for free and for a fee.
Most of all, I'm fit and healthy and I don't have a bulging potbelly like a lot of other people who let their bad habits get the better of them do.
So why would I be dissatisfied? Sure, I could always use a little bit more money than I'm actually making right now -- but the same is true for everyone. It's all a matter of perspective.
-This is lordcloudx out.

Hayate Reflections: Taking A Break This Week

Life has been unusually busy -- and not in a good way. Anyway... have a video and fanart.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Hayate Reflections: Video Version of an old post

This week we have a video version of an older post from here

Fanart Corner

Like I said, I've just recently discovered how fun Mobile Legends can be. I'm pretty  sure other heroes are fun and all, but for now I enjoy using Layla.
Layla Nagi will drive away the darkness!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Tale of The Prince's Bride Chapter 4: The Kindness of Strangers

Six days had passed as the prince followed the trail of the golden fireflies. There was no end to the path in sight. So much so, that he was starting to believe that the girl had lied. Before long, it was already the sixth night.
“This is probably a wild goose chase. I’m being taken for a ride.”

He thought of how much he loved his would-be bride. The princess clad in black attire whom he had fallen in love with at first sight.
Suddenly, on the road ahead, he saw a man lying down… was he perhaps dead?
There was a girl in a thick black cloak by his side. She was ever so slight that the prince missed her form at first sight.
“Hunger is indeed quite a burden to bear, but stranger, you’ll live if you’ll just take a bite from this pear.”

“Thank you, dear lady. You are indeed generous and kind. I think I can manage, but this fruit is expensive. Are you sure you don’t mind?”
“It was the last of my food for the road ahead, but I’m glad to part with it if it means you don’t end up dead.”

At this point, the beautiful prince had heard enough. He approached the kind lady for it was his turn to speak up. He reached into his satchel and…
“I’m truly touched by your sweetness, oh lady so kind. Won’t you please take these sweet treats and some wine? For your travels, I mean… that is, if you don’t mind.”
“Uh… oh-“ Underneath her cloak, the little lady hid behind.

“It’s alright. No need to be shy.”

“Thank you, then I’ll take them and I’m sorry that I can’t stay, but I must hasten and be on my way.”
In his heart, the prince would really have desired, for the kind little lady to stay for a while. With that said, he knew that he too had to go forth and ride. And continue his quest for his elusive kidnapped bride.
On and on he galloped on his steed of black stripes and pure white; chasing the trail of the golden fireflies.
Before long he had finally arrived. At the entrance to the Forest of Lies – although it was not much of an entrance all entangled with vines.

Meanwhile, at the castle on the hill past the forest of lies. Some chatter was going on between the witch and the princess in black attire.

“Pardon me, miss witch, but might I inquire as to the cause of your mischievous smile?”
“W-what do you mean? Where do you see a smile? I’m just quite amused with the prince you so desire.”
“Ara, but let me correct you there, I do not see him as an object of desire.”

“Eh? What do you mean?” Said the witch quite surprised, “Didn’t I abduct you from him on your wedding night?”

“True, I was to wed him on that night, but don’t misunderstand. It’s not like I would tremble if he held my hand.”

“So why would you allow him to become your husband?”
At the witch’s innocence, the princess smiled.
“I was simply bored out of my mind. We met just hours before and he said it was love at first sight.”

“But… you never loved him from the start?”

“If I did, then right now we wouldn’t be apart.”
The princess’ eyes had a mischievous spark.
“You must have had a really boring life – to agree so readily to be a stranger’s wife.”
“Indeed, I was. So bored, I could have died. But the prince, I wonder what  his so-called love… is truly right.”
At the Princess’ musings, the young witch smiled.

“We shall see soon enough, Princess in black attire. He has finally reached the forest of lies. The path ahead will be filled with trials…”

The princess looked into the young witch’s eyes.

“Ah I see… now I understand what it is you truly desire.”

To be continued...

Fanart Corner

I like how this one turned out. This is a hand-sized card and painted with Bento Picasso watercolors. I've been playing Mobile Legends Bang Bang (lol at that "Bang Bang") lately, so you might see Nagi in Layla cosplay next week.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Tale of the Prince's Bride Chapter 3: The Path To The Forest of Lies

On his steed, the beautiful prince rode in haste, to find the Forest of Lies without waste.
He rode for awhile, for days on end, until he came to a foreign land.

“Excuse me, sir. Might you lend me a hand?”
He asked this of an old, silver-haired but somewhat well-built man.
“Yes, of course. Ask away, lad.”

Deep inside, the prince was quite touched – at the fact that he had been called a lad. After all, as you may be well aware, he was always being mistaken for a lady with his feminine face and skin so fair.
“Can you tell me anything about the Forest of Lies?”

“Oh, it is known to all, but to travel there would be unwise.”

“I fully understand that monsters may lurk inside, but sir, if you would please tell me where to go, for I have to find my would-be bride.”

“Well, now that is a different matter altogether. Fine then, young man. To the tavern, let us step inside.”
And so, the two chatted for a while and before long, morning had given way to the night.
“I see, that is indeed a terrible plight. So a powerful witch abducted your would-be bride and on your wedding night?”
The prince nodded to confirm that this was right.
“Well, I understand that you have to enter the Forest of Lies to get to the castle on the other side but… what if your information wasn’t right?”

“What do you mean? Why wouldn’t it be right?”

“Well, the information came from the witch who took your bride. Wouldn’t it make sense for her to mislead you with lies? But in any case…”

“In any case?”

“There’s one more reason why you shouldn’t enter the Forest of Lies.”

The old man stared at the prince with scrutinizing eyes.

“Umm… this is getting kinda creepy, I hope you’re not into guys?”
“Oh perish the thought. I was just looking at your hands. I understand that you are an extraordinarily strong young man… but that will not help you in the journey beyond. There is something that you should know about the Forest of Lies. It preys upon the weakness of the heart, and those whose convictions were wrong from the start. If you lack the strength and resolve from inside, then you could even lose your mind.”

“And you think that I will have trouble in this Forest of Lies? If you doubt my convictions, then please tell me why.”
“Then answer me this…”
But the old man had drunk too much wine, at that moment, he fell asleep and bade the prince…
“Good night.”

Suddenly, a wooden cup flew by and hit the old man on the head, which did not disturb him, he was sleeping quite tight.
“H-hey! Don’t fall asleep before you get to the best part! Oooh, I knew I should have done this myself from the start.”

It had come from a lady, or perhaps a mere child. Who was clad from top to bottom in a cloak of red and white.
“Listen up, stranger. I’ll tell you the best part.”

But at that moment, the owner of the tavern held the prince and the girl by the cuff.

“I’m sorry, but you’re both underage and I’ve had enough.”

And thus, they were promptly evicted, because drinking for minors is strictly prohibited.

“Ahem anyway, stranger about the best part.”

“Wait, a second…” The prince responded, “don’t I know you from the start?”
“O-of course not.” Was her prompt reply.

“Now if you won’t listen to me, I must say goodbye.”

“ No, please wait, go on and tell me… what is the best part? You see, I must enter the Forest of Lies. I implore you this time, tell me what I need to know, to find my sweet heart.”
“S-weet heart? Well okay then. I’ll tell you the path to the Forest of Lies. See these?”
The prince turned his eyes to some buzzing lights.
“These are pretty. Quite an amazing sight.”
“Aren’t they? Anyway, Just follow the trail of these golden fireflies. It’s three days from here to the Forest of Lies. The only problem is that  you can only see them at night.”
With that, the girl hopped on top of a giant rock to supplement her lack of height.
“Well then, farewell stranger… and I bid you good luck.”
“Thanks but…” the prince kindly smiled
“Aren’t you really the witch with powers beyond my mind?”
The girl seemed to shake from her knees for a while but then she recovered and said, “Of course not. I’m going now! Good luck and goodbye!”

To be Continued...

3 chapters left until the finale~

Friday, September 14, 2018

White Nights Watercolor Painting - Nagi Sanzen'in

Just a video of me using my White Nights watercolor set to paint Nagi using washes for a negative painting technique and finishing up with hard outlines.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Hayate Reflections: For The Hina Shippers!

So it has come to my attention, that a lot of Hina shippers, which of course, doesn’t necessarily apply to all Hina fans, are quite dissatisfied with the ending of Hayate no Gotoku! Because they claim that they at least wanted to see Hina’s confession scene. The way Hata handled it was apparently quite disrespectful to her character... well, ok, I’ll give you that. In fact, I agree with you. So for this week’s Hayate Reflections, I’m going to give you exactly what you want, enjoy!

Yeah, like she said, how does that make you feel? Are you satisfied yet? I sure am. Hahahaha! 
This is lordcloudx and this has been Hayate Reflections – sort of. I’ll see you next week for the third episode of the Prince’s Bride.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Tale of the Prince's Bride Chapter 2: Love At First Sight

Chapter 2: Love At First Sight
The beautiful prince traveled to the lands beyond. On and on he rode on his steed of black slashes and pure white.  Before long, he came upon a palace, or perhaps more accurately, a mansion of grand design.
The place seemed abandoned, so he dismounted and carefully set the rusty iron gates aside. Perhaps the garden had a well for both he and his horse were thirsty and somewhat tired.
He went around the building and circled to the right side, from there, he saw a well but something else filled his sight.
It was a maiden of golden hair in a royal robe of the blackest of attires. His heart skipped a beat as their eyes met for the first time.
“Oh my, who might you be? What a curiosity to find such a fine lady in this lonely royal mansion of mine.”
“You’re mistaken, milady. Ahem,” the prince sighed as he stifled a look annoyance that even his pretty face could not hide, “with my admittedly feminine face aside. I assure you that I am a man – and a prince, nonetheless, who has fallen in love with you – at first sight.”

“Ara-ara,” the beautiful lady responded with a mischievous smile.

“That is quite interesting, this love at first sight. Might it be some kind of affliction? How may I help you with this plight?”
“Will you marry me?” The prince replied. For he was certain such a fine lady clad in pure-black attire, had to be a princess and was more than fit to be his bride.

“Hmm… you amuse me, so certainly, let’s get married tonight!”
The journey to the black princess’s kingdom took them quite a while – and because this is a lore in medieval style, naturally, some bandits had stalked them and blocked their path with sly smiles.
There were five of them and each with a dagger – surrounding the couple from all sides. The prince dismounted as his bangs covered his eyes.

“Stay put, milady. He said with his usual kind smile.”

The black princess stared back at him with a look of surprise. This was the first time after all, she had seen his winsome smile.
“Now then, ladies, hand over all your goods and while you’re at it, leave the horse behind.”

“Hey boss, I like the fair-haired one with the beautiful face, but I really can’t resist the buxom one in the black attire,” said another bandit as he ogled the couple with lust in his eyes.
And of course, this remark had pushed the prince over the edge. With a kick, and a punch, and even a poke to the eye, without drawing his sword, he let his fists and feet fly.

Ah yes, I forgot to tell you didn’t I? Actually, the prince can take care of himself in a fight with his feminine looks and charm aside. What is more, he was quite filled with rage at being mistaken for a girl all the time.
And soon the prince and the princess rode away, leaving five half-dead bandits in quite a state of disarray.
At the kingdom of the princess with black attire, the beautiful prince was accepted and well-liked. The kingdom had been ruled by the princess all alone for quite a while, due to an unfortunate accident that killed her parents in a fire.
“Well, my prince. As promised, we shall get married tonight… but this journey has actually left me quite tired, so if you’ll excuse me, to my bedchamber I shall retire. Oh, and the guest room is on the door to the right.”
“Hah, not so fast! You princess with obnoxious breasts and black attire! You’re coming with me right now. Dare to refuse and you shall invoke my ire!” Said a loud, high-pitched voice, which came from a figure of small stature wearing a hood of thin animal hide.
“Ara… an intruder has crept inside? And what of my guards, do tell me child.”

“C-c-child? I’ll have you know I’m a powerful witch with powers that will blow your mind! As for the guards, why not draw your curtains and see for yourself.” Said the witch with a glint in her eye and her witchy face concealed in her hood of animal hide.
“Indeed, my guards are on the floor – all dead.”
“N-no! I didn’t kill them. There’s no blood as you can see! I ran in-between them and they just tripped over their feet and clashed with their heads.”
“Ara-ara… such powers, you possess. So why have you come here? Pray tell, do confess.”
“Hehe~ you don’t seem to know very much, so I will tell right now. I have come here to kidnap you, oh princess of black attire.”

“But why?”

“W-why!? I can’t tell you that… let’s just say that it’s to fulfill my wish – my greatest desire.”
“Oh my, how sinister, oh powerful witch with powers that blow my mind. Well come then, let us descend together. My carriage will take us and leave my prince far behind.”

At this point, the prince finally spoke a line.

“Wait! Don’t I get a say in this, oh princess of mine? We were supposed to get married tonight!”
“Ara… we were going to do that. You’re right. But as you can see, I’m a bit preoccupied. This witch has powers beyond my mind. I am powerless to stop her rampage – so my prince. I’m afraid I must leave you behind.”
The princess uttered this with an amused smile.
The prince sank to his knees cursing his own helplessness from the inside, as the princess, his would be-bride, casually walked away leaving him behind.   With that, the princess and the witch slowly disappeared from his sight – but not without turning back to wave bye-bye.
“See you next time, prince.” The witch said with her high-pitched voice like that of a child.

“At the castle on the hill past the Forest of Lies.”

To Be Continued...

Fanart Corner

Greetings! To break it up a bit, I might do a regular Hayate Reflections next week instead of continuing this tale. In any case, see you next week for sure.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Rivers of Blood Chapter 2: Hazel (Original Fiction)

Read the first chapter here

“I’m not sure what to call it… intuition might be close, or maybe it’s more of a wild guess. I suppose, if a wild guess, and I mean totally wild, based on nothing but first impressions is consistently correct, I guess it becomes a sort of skill… or talent. Something like that.”

Eric Williams raised his eyebrow at his companion’s dubious claims. Raising the straw to his lips, he took a long sip from his frozen latte with his right hand while raising up his other hand to signal that he had something to say.

Half-closed, jade-green eyes stared back at him. A sly smile formed on her lips in amusement.

“Ahh… that was good,” placing his 20% finished latte quickly onto the glass table between them, he continued, “but anyway, Sheena, you mean to tell me that’s all there is to it? No fancy techniques? 101 rules for profiling a suspect or anything like that?”

Sheena Baker bit her lips stifling a smile.
“No, of course the basics are important. There are plenty of rules for profiling someone – and not just a suspect, mind you. I mean, in this line of work, you should be able to tell a number of things about just about anyone at a glance and you have to base that off of technical knowledge about a number of different things from technology to science to engineering and don’t even get me started on body language… but you know, I don’t think anyone can actively think about these things all the time.”

“Well , that’s a bit disappointing I mean, that time when you arrived at the scene after my father’s murder… you really saved me.”

Sheena’s eyes lit up.

“Oh yeah… that was really horrible. And I don’t mean just for you, I mean for me as well… umm… what, why are you looking at me like that?”

She adjusted her dark-rimmed glasses a bit before continuing.

“Yeah, yeah I get it. You want me to tell you how I managed to identify the culprit, right… which reminds me, it would have gotten ugly pretty quickly if I hadn’t exposed him at that moment.”

Eric nodded in approval.

“Well, it’s a bit hard to explain, but it’s like what I said earlier. I basically make a guess based on first impressions and then I proceed to find evidence that would support that guess – and my guesses often turn out to be correct. Here, let me demonstrate. See that lady coming out of that store over there?”
Sheena pointed to a Forever 21 store across the street.

“Yeah, that girl who is obviously a fashionista?”
“Lawyer. She looks young but she’s Asian, so about 36 years old. I’d say she’s been in practice for about 6 years or so…”

“And this is based on?”

“She’s wearing a $1000 Prada bag. It’s pretty much a status symbol for female lawyers nowadays.”

“Wait, that’s just blind speculation. You mean to tell me that your entire technique is based around confirmation bias?”

Sheena clutched her chest and grimaced hard as if she were having a heart attack.

“Ugh… that really hurts, rookie… just for that… how about a wager?”

Sheena winked coyly at Eric.

“If I’m right, you pay the bill.”

Eric raised his hands to his side

“Well, I figure you’ve got about a 30% chance of getting it, right. So I’m up for it.”
Sheena grinned with the look of a cat that just ate the bird and got away with it.
“Can I borrow your smartphone for a sec? My 3310 can’t display pictures.”

“Sigh… I have no idea why you insist on using that ancient thing. But… shouldn’t one of us go up and talk to her? You know, just ask if she’s really a lawyer like you said. She’s getting into her car now… oh, nevermind. I guess the bet is off. She got away.”

“KA-CHING! Aaand, I win. Here she is. Here’s her name on the roll of attorneys. Government website, no photohsop, no filter, no editing. And if you need further info, she’s pretty active on social media. Even has a Google+ account. I thought nobody ever uses that?”

Sheena showed him the woman’s social media profile. Indeed, the face matched that of the woman who had just sped away on a Pearl White Hyundai Genesis. Atty. Linda Parker, joined the roll of attorneys back in 2012.

“T-that’s simply amazing. You knew all that from just a Prada bag? That’s some intuition.”

“Haha! Hahahaha! You’re so gullible, Rookie.”


Eric stared dumbfounded at the woman before him who was guffawing so hard that the other patrons of the outdoor café were starting to glare at their general direction.
“Pfft! Sorry about that… and I mean sorry about that EVERYONE!”
This caused the prying eyes to look away… whether it was disgust or embarrassment that they felt at that moment, Sheena did not seem to care.

“Anyway, there’s no magic trick to it. Linda is an acquaintance of mine. That’s the real secret, rookie. You don’t show your trump card until you’re sure you can win…oh, and in the same vein, you don’t take a case unless you know you can resolve it. It may be difficult, it may take some effort, but you should at least be certain that you can actually resolve it before you accept it. As private investigators, we have a responsibility to our clients to resolve the case and not just try our best.  The people who try their best are those who have given up from the very start and are only hoping to win by mere chance.”
The young woman before Eric stopped smiling. She readjusted her glasses and looked straight into his eyes. Her pools of jade reflecting the look of amazement plastered on his face.

“Listen up, Rookie. Fate is a bitch, so you never leave anything to her whims. If something isn’t certain, then that just means you need to find more clues that will lead you to the definite conclusion – that is how we resolve the unresolved.”

“When she said that… she was really amazing. You know how in those movies when a dramatic scene comes up and epic music starts playing? It felt just like that.”

“I see, she was really something, huh? This Sheena Baker?”

Eric turned to the young woman seated in a relaxed yet elegant manner on the barstool next to him. She had long straight, black hair even-cut bangs barely touching her eyebrows and two long fringes at each side of her face that just about reached her collarbone. Sharp, hazelnut eyes spoke of Asian descent, although it was pretty hard to tell beneath the heavy foundation she was wearing.

It had been two weeks since Sheena Baker’s death and Eric was very glad for any opportunity to talk about the meager but very vivid memories that he had of his former mentor – even with a complete stranger that he had met just a few moments before. If he had been more sober, he might have found the woman, who had introduced herself as Mai Sakata to be quite a beauty. Of course, drunken with depression and about five shots of cheap whiskey, he wasn’t exactly in the best mental state to even notice the femme fatale in front of him. What mattered is that she was a living, breathing person who was willing to listen and she was right in front of him at that moment – he needed that.
 Sheena had been cremated unceremoniously – as specified in her holographic will, which was found neatly folded inside her purse, handwritten, dated and signed by her. Sheena had no living relatives and very few people in the police force wanted to be associated with someone in her line of work, so not even the ones she knew came for her funeral wake.
Eric understood this clearly. After all, his father had been a police asset and when the current administration took over nearly a decade ago and began a massive bloodbath based on the premise of ridding the city of drugs entirely. The police officer who had been using his father as an asset to infiltrate a particular criminal group turned out to be the same person who would eventually take his life in an effort to clear his own name. His father died alone in the streets – shot in cold blood. He was an unsung hero who exposed more than six different criminal groups as an insider – and yet, the authorities would never acknowledge his accomplishments. In fact, not a single police officer turned up for the funeral.
“So, tell me more about this Sheena woman. Was she… more than a friend to you perhaps?”

Eric downed his sixth shot of whiskey and signaled for the bartender to bring him another.

“She was… amazing. But, we weren’t like that. I looked up to her. She was the one who solved my father’s case back when she was just a rookie officer. The irony is that the perpetrator was her partner all along. The investigation took place at our house and she just casually named him as the perp and then proceeded to assault him with a boat load of facts that all pointed to him being the killer. Of course, everything she said was merely circumstantial, but she delivered it so convincingly that the guy just broke down completely in front of her. He didn’t even put up a fight. He just put his hands out and instructed her to cuff him and take him in. “

There was a glint in Eric’s eye even as he continued to reminisce his past from his drunken state.

“ I didn’t even know her name back then… but what I could never forget were her cat-like green eyes. I… joined the police force hoping to follow in her footsteps, but I’d heard she already left the force when I finally earned my badge. I didn’t stop though, I kept searching and searching and then… and then… I finally found her.”
“And now she’s gone, is she?”

Mai asked this question in a deliberate manner. No signs of sarcasm or even pity in her voice.

“But… she seemed like such an amazing woman. It’s hard to believe that someone like that could be killed so… unceremoniously.”
Eric took another quick gulp downing his seventh shot of whiskey. The truth is that he wasn’t really much of a drinker. The first time he’d encountered alcohol was back in high school. It was just after his father had died and his friends convinced him to drink some kind of gin mixed with lime juice and a whole lot of ice. It took no more than half a glass of this before he started feeling light headed and just slightly dizzy. He threw up all night after that incident and woke up with a splitting headache that lasted all day.

Eric had sworn off alcohol since that first encounter, but being a man down on his luck, of very few interests and an even weaker will, he needed something to help ease the pain of Sheena’s death and currently, he found the whiskey very comforting.

He took a quick glance around the room. There were very few patrons inside. He’d deduced that most of them were office workers looking to unwind a bit after a hard day’s work. There were a group of kids by the window: two girls and three guys. They were clearly underage; of course, it was none of his business so he left well enough alone. He felt sure that she would see it that way as well.

“So, Mr. Williams…”

“Eric is fine.”

“Did you ever check the corpse yourself, Eric? I mean, as an investigator, you confirmed her death yourself, right?”
The young man took another swig at his shot glass, but was rather disgruntled to discover that he’d already emptied it a few moments earlier.  He motioned the bartender for another one, to which the man behind the counter firmly shook his head. The bartender, 58 year-old John Morris had been in the business for far too long. He’d seen this pattern countless times before and he understood fully-well that the customer is always right – unless that customer happens to be dead drunk and wants another one.
Eric raised one finger from the back of his balled fist at the gentleman and flipped him the universal sign of strong disapproval. Of course, he knew himself better than anyone else and he was a former private investigator with a criminology degree for heaven’s sake. He understood the levels of intoxication better than some bottle juggling old man.

“The medical officer on the job confirmed it for me when I arrived. It was more than an hour since she’d been shot. Her body was already on the ambulance stretcher – still wearing the same clothes from when we last saw each other. They asked me to confirm her identity.  Apparently, she had no living relatives or close friends – or anyone who wanted to be associated with her for that matter.”
“Ah, so that means you never checked her body yourself?”

Mai Sakata smiled sweetly as she said this.

Eric shook his head.

“No no no, that’s not how it works, miss. The medical officer is a professional – they don’t make mistakes. I saw the gunshot wound on her forehead myself. It was unmistakable.”

“I see… that is quite a shame. So Miss Sheena Baker is really dead…ah, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to stir up any bad memories. It just seemed like you really wanted to talk about it.”
Eric remained silent. She was correct. Until now, he had been a mixed cocktail of dangerously volatile emotions keeping things all bottled up inside.  While the whiskey helped to dull his emotional pain, it acted just like an anesthetic. The pain was still there, it just didn’t hurt as much. In contrast, talking things over with someone like Mai offered him some sense of actual relief.
Sheena had warned him before. In this line of work, you have to operate from the shadows. You need to kill your presence and your identity entirely. You must not exist. You must become no one.
This led him to question more than a few times whether the name “Sheena Baker” was itself nothing more than an alias.
Still, these things were far from his mind right at that moment. When he discovered that Sheena had left the Baker agency in his name, he had been overwhelmed with a flood of emotions – emotions that overloaded his senses so much that in the end, he just felt hollow and empty inside. At that moment, Eric knew that his career as a private investigator was over. As for the Baker Agency, he had planned on selling it off to someone else eventually without ever revealing the real secret beneath it – about the ace detective who clandestinely resolved the most unresolved of cases beyond the watchful eyes of the law.
Eric fiddled with his empty shot glass. Time seemed to slow down as his eyes focused only on the transparent container held between his thumb and forefinger. He noticed that there were actually many tiny scratches on it – indicating that it must have been used countless times before. The glass was thick, which usually spoke of low quality production methods. It bore no particular manufacturer’s trademark or indicia He surmised that the owner must have bought it at some backyard auction or as a set at some thrift shop.
“So… was I wrong? Am I being a bother after all?”

Mai’s voice snapped him back into reality.

“Uh… no, you’re right. It feels… comforting to have someone to talk things over with.”

The young woman smiled sweetly. She lightly tapped the space between her eyes.
“By the way, did you ever catch the killer?

“No… it was a drive-by shooting via motorcycle. You know how it is in this city. It happens every day. I just never expected someone like her… someone so smart, so amazing to die just like that.”

“It really does seem quite unlikely, my friend. This Sheena person was really special based on what you have told me… but rather than that, isn’t it a bit strange?”

“Eh? Strange in what way?” Eric asked genuinely perplexed.

Mai scratched her chin for a bit before answering.

“Well, if you think about it, the victims of almost all the drive-by shootings have all been homeless people or people living below the poverty line – mostly small-time drug pushers working for the big fish. I don’t think there have been any incidents at all of any drive-by shootings happening inside of gated villages or targeting white collar workers, or just about anyone who didn’t look poor. I do not think your mentor would look like a possible target by mere appearance, would she?”

Eric buried his face in his hands. His reply came in a faint, almost unintelligible mumble.

“No… I mean, sure she did dress a bit like a slob but like a nerdy slob. Nothing that would make her a target. I mean, her fashion sense could have used a bit of work, but it’s not like the clothes themselves were cheap. She certainly couldn’t have passed for some hobo.”

“Do you not think it’s worth investigating? You were a private eye until just a few weeks ago, were you not? What’s the use of all your skills if you can’t even help the person that you cared for the most? As a man, you should at least avenge her death.”

“Hey, hey! That’s overstepping the line lady. You make it sound like she was my lover or something. Didn’t I make it clear that we’re not like that?”

Mai giggled mischievously.

“My friend, I didn’t say anything like that at all. You said it yourself… but don’t try to change the subject here. I’m no detective, but even I think there are a lot of contradictions with the circumstances surrounding her death.”
At that moment, Eric would have turned red with embarrassment, but fortunately for him, his face was already as red as it could get from all the alcohol he had ingested.
Mai did not let up.

“With that aside, even if you have no plans of investigating her death, I think… that there will always be people who will need someone like you. Someone willing to resolve the cases that no one will ever bother to resolve.“

Her words did not sink in immediately, but gradually, beyond the tunnel vision, beyond the dizziness he felt from having had one drink too many, beyond the intoxicating smell of the whiskey coming from his own body, a realization was starting to form within the muddled, dormant brain cells of Eric Williams… until finally, the idea came to fruition.
Eric turned to face her. He stared long and hard at her visage. There was a quiet strength emanating from Mai Sakata.

“Say… if I were to continue being a private investigator, would you be interested in a desk job at my office? I mean, things are probably all in shambles in there right now, but you seem like someone who would be a perfect fit for this line of work. I could really use a new partner.”

Mai smiled her sweetest smile yet.

“I would be honored, Mr. Williams.”

“Then,” Eric dismounted  from his bar stool, “If you’ll excuse me, Miss Sakata. I think there are a few people who need my help in here right now.”

Mai raised an eyebrow and then gave a nod of approval. Of course, at this time, Eric had already left her side.

It wasn’t exactly easy. He was clearly far more intoxicated than he had bargained for. So he had to steer himself carefully so as not to fall over on his way to his intended targets. The corner table by the windows seemed so very far away – especially for someone who could barely keep his balance.

They say that walking is merely a series controlled falling, if the person who made up that definition could only see Eric at that moment, they would have been quite proud.
After spending around five minutes and nearly planting himself face first into the wrong table quite a few times, the former detective finally arrived at his destination – the table with the group that he suspected to be underage.

One of the youngsters, a brash teenager, who was much bigger and definitely taller than him, stood up to face the older man.

“What do you want, pops? I think you’re in the wrong table.”

The two girls who were seated in the same booth together giggled in unison while the teenager’s two other male companions glared at Eric from their seats with a dead eye gangster’s stare.
“No, I think I’m exactly where I want to be.”

“HEY! Don’t you cause trouble in my establishment, you drunk idiot! I’m warning you, I’m calling the police.”
John Morris, the old bartender shouted from behind the counter.

Eric raised his hand.

“It’s fine, Bartender. I just want to show these kids a little magic trick… unless, you know, you really want to call the police. In that case, I’m not the one serving liquor to minors am I? Just saying…”
With a grumble, the bartender replied, “Hmph! I… uh… I didn’t see a thing. Carry on, sir.”

“Right, so where were we…?”

“Pops... I’m warning you. If you try anything stupid, I’m going to knock some teeth out.”

“Yes, yes, of course you will, umm… I’m Eric, by the way. Eric Williams. You might say I’m a traveling magician. I do magic tricks. Reveal the unrevealed. That sort of stuff.”
“We’re not interested in your magic tricks, old man.”
“Well… well… just give me a moment, will you? I promise... entertainment.”

He tapped the brash teenager standing in front of him on the chest as he said this. This earned him a good shove, but almost miraculously Eric managed to retain his balance.
“Hey, hey. Don’t be so mean, Chris. Let him show us what he can do first.” Said the girl seated by the window. She had brown eyes with matching straight brown hair tied up into twin ponytails.

“Yeah… hmph! You can beat him up after he entertains us for a bit.” One of the male companions chided -- a delinquent with a red bandana on his forehead. Eric could not help but muse inwardly that this guy was dressed for the wrong decade.”
“Th-that’s a bit mean.” The other girl added. She was a brunette with nondescript features and a rather shy demeanor.

Eric shakily regained his footing.

“So… with that out of the way, let us begin.”

Eric grabbed the five glasses of alcohol that the kids had been drinking from. He eyed each one carefully, especially the girls’ glasses. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that the glasses were almost full.

“Hey – that’s!”

Eric raised his hand right at Chris’ face.

“Shhh! I promise I won’t ruin your drinks. I just need them for a little bit… so… observe the glasses carefully, do you notice anything?”

“Umm… the drinks are different? The guys all ordered some kind of clear liquid, while we girls have this funky colored drink.”

“Bingo! Good job, shy girl… um what’s your name again?”

“It’s Emily, Mr. Williams.”

“Excellent… but if you please, would you try one of the guy’s drinks, Emily? Here’ I’ll wipe the lid if you’re worried about an indirect kiss or something to that effect.”

Eric took a piece of tissue paper from the table and carefully and meticulously wiped the lid of the glass of alcohol and offered it to Emily.

Taking the glass, the girl took a tiny sip. She licked her lips and furrowed her eyebrows.

“It’s the same. It tastes the same as ours. It’s the same drink, isn’t it?”

“Bingo! You got it right again. Good job, Emily.”

“Wait, if it’s the same as ours, then why does it look so different?”

“Ah, excellent question, miss twin-tails.”

“Mary. The name’s Mary.”

“Well, Mary… as to your question, that brings us to my little magic trick. Observe…”

Eric quickly dropped two small capsules into the two remaining drinks on the table that didn’t belong to the girls. Immediately, the capsules dissolved into bubbles and emitted a dark blue-inkish powder that spread all over the liquid. When the capsules had completely dissolved, the drinks were indistinguishable from that of the girls.
“Ta-dah! You see, I just added a little substance called Rohypnol into these two glasses. If that name didn’t shock you, then perhaps you’re familiar with a little something called ‘the date rape drug?’ Oh and if you’re wondering where I got that from. I stole it from your good friend Chris there when I gave him that little love tap on his chest pocket.”


Chris, clearly infuriated, suddenly threw a massive left hook at Eric. Clearly, this youngster was not without training, Eric thought. Boxing, perhaps?
Chris’ punch was strong yet cleanly executed. If Eric had been a fraction of a second later in moving his head slightly downwards and to the right, he would have been floored in an instant.

“Hey, kid.  Have you ever watched this old Jackie Chan movie called Drunken Master? Nah, I guess not. Anyway, the more drunk the protagonist became, the stronger his kung fu got.”

“Shut up, pops! I’m going to fucking murder y--- AAGH!”

Chris screamed in pain. Eric delivered a vicious inside leg kick into his thighs before he could complete his sentence. The exclamation point came quickly via an overhand right from Eric delivered into the sweet spot just below his chin. Chris doesn’t expect drunken busybodies smaller than him to do that. Chris is a bully. Chris fell back to his chair on top of both of his buddies unconscious.
“Will I be expecting any more trouble from you boys?”

Eric beckoned them to come hither in the best Bruce Lee pose he could muster.

“N-no sir!” They answered almost simultaneously.
“Well, I guess that’s that. I trust you ladies will be more careful in the future?”

“Th-thanks a lot, Mr. Williams. What should we do about these guys?” Mary asked.

“I leave that up to you, Emily.”

“It’s Mary. Emily is the shy one, remember?”

“Right, I leave that up to you, Mary.”
“Ok… just one more question: who are you really?”

“Me? Well… I’m just a private detective passing by, I suppose.”

Eric smiled and then turned gracefully on one foot, but he crossed his legs over while doing so and fell flat on the floor face-first.  It’s not a wise idea to attempt a pirouette while drunk after all.

“I’m ok… I’m ok!”


Three days after that incident, footsteps once again rang out through the narrow passageway that led to the Baker and Company Security and Consultancy firm. It had been quite a while since this had happened. Eric Williams, the new owner of the agency, adjusted his necktie. He had decided to start anew after all and if he was going to play private eye – he had decided that he might as well look the part.

The front door creakily swung open.

“Welcome, I’ve been expecting you.”

She sat down on the small sofa in front of him. He immediately understood that she wanted him to ask the questions now.

“Why did you do it?”

“Someone was watching us ever since we entered the crime scene. They would have gone after both of us, so I had to prove that we weren’t a threat. The rest can be explained with B-grade movie prosthetics and pulling a few strings with the local TV station.”

Eric turned on Sheena’s old mmx PC. In hindsight, he regretted waiting until now to do it. Now he’d have to wait at least 15 minutes on minimum before it finished booting up
“Who did it?

“It’s a crime syndicate. What I know so far is that it’s a weapons dealer with massive connections to China and quite a few friends in government.”

“That’s not much to go on, is it?”

She smiled sinisterly.

“Nah, we also have this.”

She tossed a small vial at him. He caught it crisply with one hand.

“Careful with that. One drop is enough to kill an elephant if ingested. It attacks the nervous system directly. Once inside the body, it just turns the off switch.  It’s also highly corrosive on skin.”

Eric opened a drawer from behind his desk and carefully placed the dangerous vial inside.
“Bill Taylor and Cindy Garcia’s deaths are definitely connected. It seems the boyfriend stumbled upon a hornet’s nest. Had some lab rats examine that vial. It’s poison. It’s not some kind of party drug. It’s a new type of chemical weapon that they’re manufacturing. This version is not yet perfected, but once it’s fully-developed, it’s apparently going to be more lethal than Sarin.”
“I see… well then, I suppose it’s a mere formality at this point, but welcome to the team… Mai Sakata.”

“Glad to be on board, boss. So, what’s our next step?”

“We need more evidence, Mai. Three people have died so far in a case that was never formally accepted by this agency. It began with the death of Bill Taylor, that led his fiancé Cindy Garcia to seek help from this office, but Cindy was killed shortly after and then they went after Sheena Baker as well. The deaths of these three people are strongly connected. We need to gather all the pieces of the puzzle and expose the people behind these murders – or else, this city- maybe even the entire world will be drowned in rivers of blood.”
At that moment, the windows 98 startup tune chimed in. The old mmx clone PC had booted up.

Rivers of Blood Introduction: END
Thank you for reading the pilot chapters of Rivers of Blood. This is as far as the story goes for now until I can get more chapters ready. I'm currently writing the 4th chapter of this piece. Do let me know your thoughts on this -- the story I mean, and not your unwarranted "constructive critique," thanks~

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