A new story starts with Rhanis, the leader of a mysterious cult.
Made with Blender
Crazy fact about this one? More than 1.5 million individually rendered strands of fur/hair (mostly on the two rats, but Rhanis has a fair amount of fur too). I think I've had my share of fur for a while...
The Exile - part 1 - the Rat Cult
Story begins here...
(minor spoilers for Tales of the Demonic wars)
After the fourth, and last, demonic invasion that ended in 910, the constant storms surrounding the continent calmed down and many adventurers built ships to explore what lies beyond the seas. Naval construction techniques were crude in these days, as humans had been limited to river navigation, but their enthusiasm allowed them to make incredibly fast progress.
As there was no one left from the royal family, the Demons had made sure of it, the kingdom was split in several “Free Duchies”. These were years of relative peace since, humans being humans, there were still border conflicts regularly.
Among all that, there were us, the Shadows. We were the only Demons left in the human world after the destruction of the great portal. Despite our physical differences, we shared common habits and culture with humans. Eventually, we blended in and were accepted. We even realized that we could have children with them. Those children were called half-demons; in truth, they were little more than humans with horns, and anyways most half-demons had them cut.
I am Sareena, one of the Shadows. I sold my services to the highest bidder, putting my outstanding skills at scouting and spying to the service of one ambitions duke or the other. That was all routine work until one particularly disturbing event, in 962. My mission read:
“We heard reports of a new cult rising in the southwest, calling themselves the Rat Cult. We thought them harmless until a virulent plague broke out. The whole population of the city of Teakgate was decimated in a few days, except, from what the rumors say, the members of the Rat Cult. We think they're behind it somehow but no one dares enter the city now for fear of the plague. We need to know what happened, how they are involved and whether other cities are in danger. You have a week until we purge the city by fire.”
Teakgate was indeed desolate. Rotting corpses littered the streets and the stench of death was everywhere.
I walked in the empty streets for several minutes until I spotted a living human attempting to hide from me. She wore a mark on her forehead that I had never seen before. As she tried to flee, I ran after her and caught her:
“Okay, now what happened here? Why don't you fear the plague? Answer!”
She stayed silent. As I was about to lose my temper, she gestured for me to follow her and led me through corpse-filled alleys to an improvised throne room inside an old building. At the center, a woman was sitting, surrounded by human followers wearing the same mark as my guide, and several black rats.
“Welcome to my demesne. I am Rhanis, the Rat Queen. What may I do for you, Sareena?”
She knew who I was? She didn't even give me time to answer.
“In fact, I already know. You're here about the plague. And I will give you your answer: when it started, a rat spirit visited me, urging me to protect people from it. That is what I did. I did not cause the plague, I saved those who were willing to commit their lives to the Rat spirit.”
“Then, who started the plague?”
“I do not know, but I know that blood and night will have the answers you're looking for”
There was no point in insisting. As I left Teakgate behind me, I had the feeling that Rhanis was playing with me and that she knew more than she would tell me.
Copyright: you may reuse the image as is, cropped or resized, as an avatar in a forum or RPG, provided you give credit. For other uses, you must contact me first (I'm most likely to accept).
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First of all, um. Wow. Those rats look real, particularly the one on the left (our left, not hers ). The subtle gloss and depth to the fur, the little, beady eyes, the whiskers: you nailed it. Her hair (and fur) is realistic, as well. The highlights and the detailed strands are perfect. The braids and their ornaments are also very well done. Her claws are a nice touch to the "rat queen" theme, too.
I do think the highlights on her crown and armor should be a bit sharper. However, I'm not familiar with Blender's renderer, and as such, don't know how well it can simulate metal. Her skin looks too smooth, as well. I think a bumpmap would've done wonders (or a stronger one, if you were already using one). And her eyes seem a little flat. Maybe you could try for some, brighter, sharper highlights? Some detailing (such as veins) and coloration on the sclera would probably help too.
That being said, this is still a great render. The rat motifs on her crown and breastplate are wonderful additions and attest to how thought-out this is. The fire has just the right amount of light, and I really like the subtle bloom it casts. I also like the intricately designed window in the background; it really does look like the lair of a weird, insane cult.
Overall, you did an awesome job. Really. It's clear that you put a lot of time and work into this, and it really makes it stand out. This is definitely going in my favorites.
Sharpening the metal would be easy (Blender can do it) but I left it rough on purpose. She's basically the least "noble" of the four Awakened (Adariel, Zabrina and Emelyn (not yet finished) being the others) and I wanted it to be reflected in her outfit. Crude, rickety assembly of low quality metal pieces with only the engraved details and the crown noticing her status.
You're right about the eyes, the cornea didn't render correctly somehow. I think that's because no light source is placed in such a way that it is reflected on it. It's tricky to solve because I need to rethink the illumination of the scene.
And you know what about the rats? They started as a little side project to practice sculpting from scratch, then became a big project, and then inspired me to do Rhanis