building in a cliff

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Thick Billed Raven

The Thick-billed Ravens and the related Common Ravens have the distinction of being the largest of the Passeriformes (perching birds). Like many corvids, the thick-billed raven is capable of vocal mimicry; however, this behavior is rare in the wild, and is normally recorded only in captivity.

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Calm morning drone flight over sea cliff, Dyrhólaey, Iceland

Dwarves out of the Mountains

A long-term friend of mine had been lamenting that while there seems to be a lot of push to diversify elves and ‘get them out of the forest’ but everybody seems content to leave the dwarves in their mountains. In my campaign world I do have dwarves still in the mountains, but I have a particular reason.

Dwarves, as a fantasy or rpg race typically have the following traits:

  • Short, stocky or round with a low center of gravity
  • Facial hair and plenty of it, sometimes on females as well
  • The Axe. If there’s no axe, there will be a hammer
  • Smiths, craftsmen and great builders
  • Beer, mead, ale… it’s all good as long as it’s not wine
  • Underground. Not just a little hole, but deep underground.

That’s a phenotype you can pick up and move anywhere, provided you can grow something you can then ferment and make into booze. So let’s see how they might fit in different environments.

  • Desert. If you’re going to live in the desert you have to worry about water and maintaining your body temperature, as it can get both unreasonably hot and cold in the desert, often switching from one extreme to another from day to night. Lots of animals have figured out that the temperature is much more stable underground and burrow, and the trees that survive find the water table. There are two very good reasons to build your home underground, and from there you expand your home into a city with networks etc. You can ferment the cacti. Darkvision would be handy as you’re not going to come up in the day if you can avoid it. I imagine they’d build large ventilation columns, a bit like termite mounds, reaching above the dunes, the only evidence of the city below.
  • Sea edge. I’m thinking cliffs, harsh and windswept towering above the churning waters. The windchill can be lethal, and the saltwater of the ocean is all but undrinkable without specialized processing. (Maybe they have that technology, maybe salt is a major export. Everybody needs salt before refrigeration.) Not much lives on sea cliffs aside from some agile birds that nest there, far out of reach of predators. Building your fortress into the side of the sea cliffs is a very defensible position, and there’s a huge amount of energy to be potentially harnessed in the wind and waves. Branching out into ships is difficult from cliffs, it may be easier to use underwater channels, if such a clever dwarf could devise a vessel to travel entirely beneath the waves. The lower tunnels of an sea cliff fortress are prone to flooding, so these dwarves are likely to be better at balancing and swimming than their inland brethren.
  • Ice. Where do you expect to find a phenotype that has a reduced body surface area to volume ratio (approaching spherical), comfortable insulating body fat and extra hair? Somewhere very cold. You can dig down into solid ice, which will be relatively more comfortable out of the wind chill, but if you build up with the excavated ice it will likely end up with snow accumulating on at least one side, eventually looking like a hill. Fireballs obviously strongly discouraged, and layered furs prefered over open flame for heat to preserve structural integrity.
  • Old forest. Nobody ever said anything about getting the dwarves out of the forest. I don’t mean your standard, idyllic, meadow filled forest. I mean the dark, overgrown, ancient, creaking forest with trees so old, massive and twisted that you can’t be certain they don’t have faces. The sort of forest where you can barely see the sky, and the hairs stand up on the back of your neck for no clear reason, but you can’t help but trust your instinct that something, somewhere is patiently waiting to eat you. Here it’s probably much safer underground, where you can at least establish a defensible position. I imagine large halls, edged with the passive roots of the still living trees, and probably a significant mushroom proportion in the diet. Elves above may not even know they’re there.

Really they can make themselves at home anywhere you need a defensible position. Break some stereotypes, throw some dwarves around.

(But you cannot toss them)

Don’t put your happiness in other people’s hands
They’ll drop it.
They’ll drop it every time.
—  (via sturzpoesie IG)
Some dark(ish?) OC drawing prompts

Screw all these cutesy OC drawing prompts, we need some darker, bloodier drawing prompts.

• pointing a gun at someone/at the viewer of the drawing
• fist fighting
• sword fighting
• being pushed off a cliff/building/tall structure
• drowning
• coughing up blood
• being strangled/strangling someone
• throwing a spear/knife/some other weapon
• as a zombie
• tied up and/or beaten up
• black eye
• crying as they fight someone in rage
• blood gushing out of a wound that was just inflicted
• putting bandages on a wound
• getting shot
• dodging bullets
• running from someone who is trying to hurt them
• throwing a heavy object at someone in rage
• hiding in the shadows
• ripped, bloody clothing
• busted/broken nose
• broken limb
• fighting someone using supernatural powers
• protecting someone in a fight

Southwestern Gothic

- you’re on a lonely stretch of the freeway and running out of gas. you come up on a small town and exit. you spend an hour looking for a gas station. there are homes, a grocery store, a dentist, but no gas station.

- you’re ten miles out of a sizable town. you drive around a bend in the mountain and come upon a row of stalls. you walk up to one. behind a table covered in intricate beaded jewelry and beautiful stones sits a smiling Navajo woman. you comment on her work. she nods but doesn’t speak.

- you’re hiking. the sun is baking the back of your neck, and the ground beneath your feet slowly changes from brown to yellow to red and back again. you feel thirsty constantly, and every thirty or so feet a tower of perfectly stacked sandstone rocks tells you you’re going in the right direction.

- it’s night, and you’ve been dragged by your friends to a place the locals call “the narrows”, a slit in a canyon barely wide enough to walk through, horizontally. there’s a rock wall pressed to your back, sandstone beneath your cheek, and air leaving your lungs.
you look up at the sliver of black speckled sky and breath.

- you’ve been driving for three hours and have three to go. you don’t expect to see anything for miles, but you come up over a hill and out of nowhere a town appears. you pass old rusty trucks, a church with a crumbling marque, stores with broken windows, and houses with doors that move with the wind. a ghost town is being born.

- the air is hot, the skies are a stormy gray, and rain would feel cleansing to the dry ground beneath your feet. but it’s not going to rain. you know it’s not. To your west the mountain flickers red and orange, clouds rising from the wreckage into the swirling sky.

- you’re standing just in the shadow of a cliff, eyes glued to the structure in front of you. it’s a building, moulded like pottery from clay clinging to the cliff face. they’ve been her for centuries, weathering the desert, abandoned, and they still don’t know why.

- someone needs to pee. you all pile out of the car, and move the the edge of the road. you stare nervously at the sparse but paradoxically thick grass. Anything could be in there. gophers, lizards, crickets, rattlesnakes… you watch your friend anxiously as they step into the brush, then glance at your feet, praying you don’t learn what’s out there.

- it’s late, you’ve got fast food wrappers in your lap and the air outside is finally cooling. you’re driving out of the city, prepared for the next leg of your journey. you see a motel, the vacancy sign flickering, the song hotel california playing on the radio. you speed away.

- the air is different. you can feel the change in pressure. you watch the skies anxious, ready to smell the rain, and the desert when it rains. clouds roll in. the sky is black. but something is wrong. the air is too tense, charged, not rain you realize. lightning crashes on the mountains, thunder seconds behind, and the around you crackles.

- they call it goblin valley. hundreds of “hoodoos” cover the valley floor in different shapes and sizes. during the day it’s like a playground. but you came at night. it has one of the darkest night skies in the world. you stare up at hundreds of thousands of stars, but it always feels like there is someone watching you.

Wait a second. What if Ronaldo’s theory about rock people putting “mind controlling minerals” into human water supplies has some truth to it? Is it something the gems did when they first invaded to keep humans from trying to interfere with their plans?

Is that why the humans in the show have so little interest in all the gem structures lying around everywhere? You think they’d be crawling with archaeologists and tourists, but they’re always empty and abandoned. The strawberry battlefield, the communication tower, the lunar sea spire, the kindergarten, Pink Diamond’s palanquin, etc… all of them were places Buddy Budwick was able to visit safely and record in his journal. Is he really the only human who ever tried to explore those places? Why? What happened to the human race’s curiosity of the unknown?

Also why the heck isn’t the Crystal Gems Temple a bigger draw for tourism in Beach City? It’s this monumental building carved into the side of a cliff, and I doubt there’s anything else like it nearby. Yeah, the gems wouldn’t want humans climbing around on it and taking pictures, but why hasn’t anyone ever tried? Are we supposed to believe that no one besides Greg ever tried to cross that dinky chain link fence?

And let’s not forget all the corrupted gems running around. They’re all over the world, and some of them must have had run ins with humans before the CGs caught them. What happened in those instances? We’ve seen that humans can fight corrupted gems and win (i.e. Connie, Sadie, the Pizza Family helping the CGs). So how often do humans have to fight gem monsters if the CGs aren’t there yet?

So I guess all of my questions here boil down to this; why are the humans so complacent about all the weird gem stuff around them? Is it natural for them or is there really a mind control conspiracy? It just seems weird that more people aren’t that concerned about all the danger and weirdness that keeps happening.

Sanvers Week Day 2 - Nerd Girlfriends

In all her years of being wined and dined by well-intentioned young men she tried so hard to love, Alex hoped she’d learned a thing or two about how to treat a lady.

But when Maggie first came over to her apartment with pizza and beer, to make all her hopes come true and kiss her for what felt like the first time, Alex had blurted out that she wanted to take her on a date before she even realised that she’d never planned one in her life.

Where the hell did lesbians go for dates anyway? She didn’t think she’d ever seen any at the movies, at a restaurant… Did they just go to gay places? Is that why she’d never noticed?

The doubt must have shown on her face, because Maggie had smiled a little and tucked some of Alex’s hair behind her ear. “Danvers, you really don’t have to. I feel like I should take you out first. You know, to show you how the other half live,” she joked.

“Pfft, thank you, but I’ve got this,” Alex chuckled, eyes flitting anywhere but into the too-warm intensity of Maggie’s. “I can plan a date. I’m the best at planning dates. I’m…I’m known for it.”

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It was a wonderfully sunny day at the very end of winter, heralding the start of an unusually early spring. Algy perched on a rock in the cool afternoon sunshine and gazed at the waves rolling in to the small bay beneath his cliff-side nest. Masses of cloud were building up over the islands to the north, and Algy knew that the fine weather wouldn’t last long, but he was determined to enjoy every minute of it while he could…

It was such a beautiful scene, on such a lovely day, that Algy persuaded his assistant to quickly make a GIF of it, in time for the wonderful @imiging imigif event on 1st March - the first day of the meteorological spring in the north :)

PLL 7x15 In The Eye Abides The Heart - Thoughts (long, as per usual, sorry!)

- Not one answer, like I expected. But you know what’s weird… I still really liked the episode. That goes to show that PLL can still be entertaining 7 years later… if they pace the episode fast. Every scene was relevant. No wonder they did the 2 week break last week, after 714. If we had to wait 2 weeks now for the next episode… we’d go crazy. The plethora of answers from 714 lasted us, but this would never last us 2 weeks. Good planning Freeform. Not calling the episode bad! Because again, it was very entertaining. That was 42 minutes of fun! Genuinely, I appreciated every scene to be honest.

- I don’t understand the title. I was expecting Mona to sing the song again, or something like that!?

- Troain did an amazing job directing! Actually, even if I didn’t know that Troian directed this, I still would’ve left the episode thinking that it was a new director. It did feel very fresh; different to the usual. Troain clearly experimented with meaningful camera shots and my gosh did she play to the girls’ strengths. This was some of the best acting we’ve seen in a while. Shay, who I personally think is the weakest of the group, gave some of her best performances to date. 

- I haven’t seen anyone’s thoughts yet but I’m expecting that almost everyone is saying that that was Paige talking to Aria on FaceTime. We could clearly hear Lindsey’s voice coming through. The demeanour, expressions, intonation, voice… everything was Lindsey. Paige is probably in on AD’s game, which will make sense because we saw Paige’s exact hair (length and colour) coming off the person who gave Jenna the book at the end of 711. I’ll be quite mad if the producers got lazy by using Lindsey to film the FaceTime scenes, but it actually isn’t Paige. If Lindsey acted in the FaceTime scenes, which I’m 95% sure she did, it should be her character, Paige, on the other end too. Lindsey shouldn’t be playing AD if she isn’t AD/a helper.

- Paige and Ali’s scene brought a tear to my eye. All I could think about, the whole way through, was “Pig Skin”, “I own you now” and Ali threatening to expose Paige’s sexuality before Paige was ready to talk. Yet, Paige had completely forgiven Ali, which I thought was beautiful. It was an emotional nod to season 3A and I absolutely adored this character development on behalf of both of them.

- Marlene said that Ali verbalises her sexuality in 715. She started to, which was great, but I wanted a bit more. Just another line or two. 

- I’m loving how they’re handling the situation with Emison. I did find it odd however that Emily kept saying the decision was Ali’s. I don’t know why Emily felt she had a smaller say. I’m glad she eventually realised her say is important too.

- Again, like I said above, I haven’t seen anyone’s comments yet, but I’m assuming most of us are theorising that Spencer’s twin was talking to Wren? Why would Spencer be arguing with Wren? She had a good cover up though - that Wren authorised Charlotte passes to visit Mona! But, the fact she told Ezra to keep it a secret that he saw her… it came across as exactly that; a cover up. The AD reveal may not be AD voluntarily revealing themselves like Charlotte did. Ezra may piece it together! “When I saw you with Wren at the airport” … “I was never at the airport with Wren?” says Spencer. Bam, AD is revealed!

- We actually don’t see Wren again until the finale, where we see him in a very surprising interaction with someone as part of the ultimate final twist (writer confirmed that). We’ll see him again with Spencer’s twin??

- That was a bit too short though. Wren should’ve had a few more lines, and one more scene. But I guess it was supposed to be short because he was talking (supposedly) with Spencer’s twin… if that scene went on any longer and we heard any of the conversation, we’d know too much too soon.

- Marco made a good point, that someone was trying to make it look like Archer is alive (by using his credit cards) yet now they’re making it look like he’s dead. He made a good point that maybe there’s more than one person pulling the strings here. 

- Spencer using Archer’s credit card… ahhhh we were right. 

- Marco will end his relationship with Spencer because he’ll feel like Spencer only got close to him so that she can destroy any evidence and also eavesdrop on the case. Which, isn’t true. But it definitely looks that way. Spencer = sad, Toby = sad, Spoby comes back.

- I loved the absence of Toby and Caleb. Not a hater of them, but it was a breath of fresh air from the romance.

- “Can I go?” … “I can’t stop you”. I dunno why, but I loved that. Marco is obeying the law and remaining professional whilst also showing his love for Spencer by letting her go prepare a defence so to speak.

- I didn’t like the ending! They were building up to a big dramatic Riverdale cliffhanger! (Literally, a Cliff Hanger… if you know what I mean.) I thought the note was hinting that Mary committed suicide, and the camera would pan over to a dramatic reveal. The directing was amazing… the feels!!! But, I was expecting one more scene before it faded out.

- Ezria scenes were great! I liked the argument about going vs staying. I could see Troain’s directing in that. She told them to crank up the heat. I saw sparks in Ezra and Aria’s eyes that we haven’t seen in both of them in a while. There was genuine frustration at the situation from both of them.

- Aria betraying the girls was so cool. But, I wish they took it a step further like Aria actually doing something to physically hurt the girls rather than just give AD info. Writers, you have permission to break my heart. Test the friendship as much as possible. But, it’s not over. Maybe they’ll go there next week.

- Mona, Mona, Mona. Please, don’t disappear on us like that again. 5 left… please be in all 5! And omg, her admiration of the game had me smiling. That was the best reaction. Whoever wrote the ep, good choice. Her loving the evilness in the game (”it’s brilliant, I wish I did it” etc) makes me question her current loyalties however…

- I wanted Spencer to find Mary. I didn’t like the constant teasing through the bottles (cool concept!) only to end up that she won’t find her this episode. 

- The Lucas and Charles story was cool. And it seems the girls are all suspecting what we fans are… that Lucas’ apartment is bugged with cameras and microphones everywhere. Cant wait to see where this story goes, particularly with the dollhouse reference in the comic.

- NEXT WEEK’S PROMO!! Episode looks amazing! Of course, promos always look better than the actual episode but… “that’s why you were tortured” says Lucas (or something like that). Watch that be extremely anticlimactic, we won’t find out AD’s motive or anything!

- Overall, 8/10! I did enjoy it. A few tiny tiny things I disagreed with, and an overall lack of answers. But, the fast pace of it did make it feel like a love-letter to the fans. It just doesn’t compare to the shit-storm that was season 6! This is good.