Your phone buzzes. Surprisingly, you don’t confuse it for the deep rumble of the parade in the distance. You’ve got a text from Lucien.
“The Raven has landed.”
You chuckle at the code name you and Lucien have chosen for Damien. He’s supposed to be luring his dad right into your trap… but it hasn’t been easy so far. Apparently, Damien is not only afraid of horror movies, but loud, booming noises as well.
You stand up on your tiptoes and use your superior dad arms to shield the sun from your eyes as you look for the duo. You’re standing on the street corner, behind a few children. The entire road is blocked off with street vendors selling various fatty foods and snacks. The faint rumble of the parade echoes in the distance. You remove your dad hat and wipe some sweat off of your forehead. It’s hot.
Amanda slides into the crowd beside you, cotton candy in one hand and a huge cup of soda in the other. She’s been drinking a lot more soda since she graduated. You pretend not to notice. She raises an eyebrow.
“They can’t be that hard to spot,” she says. “I’m sure Bat Dad is the only one wearing black on a day like today.”
The sun beats down and a cicada chirps its agreement with her statement. You roll your eyes at the totally dumb nickname she gave to Damien. ‘The Raven’ is so much better.
At last, you catch a glimpse of black out of the corner of your eye. Lucien drags a confused looking Damien in your direction and waves. You can’t help but crack a smile. Damien is so cute when he’s scared. You wave back.
“Oh thank goodness we finally found you!” Damien calls once he sees you. He frees himself from his son’s grip and rushes in your direction, throwing his arms around you. “There are far too many people here and it’s very loud.”
Your heart sinks. “We don’t have to stay here if you’re uncomfortable.”
He’s still got his arms tightly wound around your middle, and he looks up at you with heavily lined eyes. He didn’t wear the contacts today. His eyes are dark and charming.
“I feel much better now that I’m with you.”
This time your heart soars into your throat. You can hear your heartbeat thrumming in your ears, so loud you can’t even think straight. You manage to crack a smile and lean in to kiss him. Amanda and Lucien’s loud whoops interrupt your moment.
Turns out it isn’t your heart drumming in your ears, but the actual sound of drums. The marching band leads the parade around the street corner and Damien pulls away from you to follow your eyes where the band is making an entrance. The crowd cheers. Damien’s eyes lighten as he listens to the band playing a classic tune of “The Stars and Stripes Forever”. He takes your hand and gives it a firm squeeze. He can’t take his eyes off of the band and you can’t take your eyes off of him.
Once, he glances back at you and his eyes are glistening with excitement. Damien isn’t one for shouting but you’ve read his lips a thousand times so it’s easy to decipher his quiet words, “This is so lovely.”
You squeeze his hand back and return his elated grin. You can’t believe his father never took him to see a marching band.
“Do not fear, my dear rogue,” the elf replied without turning around. He held his hands out in front of him, crossing one wrist over the other and flexing his fingers. “I know exactly what I’m doing,” he said. The air of the chamber shifted then, the otherworldly light throwing shadows every which way. Lucien’s hair floated up in some nonexistent wind, as a blinding light formed in his hands.
Finished this illustration of Lucien! I’m trying to be more intentional about the features I give my characters, so I made sure to gather references of a specific ethnicity–for Lucien, it’s Japanese (even more specifically, the model Daisuke Ueda) and I’m quite happy with the result!
Morpheus AKA The Lord of Dreams, in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, has a rather unusual castle. The castle changes it’s form. This is possibly to fit the mood of the inhabitants of the castle.
The first time the castle appeared was in the 1970s when it was called Ghost Castle. According to DC Wikia that is still the official title of The Castle. The caretaker of the castle was Lucien AKA Mr. Raven. Later, in 1988 ,when Sandman was first published, Ghost Castle and Lucien along with two other DC horror anthology characters- Cain and Abel with their House of Mystery and House of Secrets- became part of The Sandman lore. Lucien became Morpheus’ librarian while Cain and Abel took up residence within The Dreaming realm (With their houses able to occasionally and almost randomly appear in the waking world). When the castle appears in the waking world it’s often in Transylvania.
In the second issue of Sandman Morpheus’ castle has taken a beat up yet blatantly more phallic appearance.
In Season of Mists we learn that when Morpheus is feeling anti-social he moves the castle up on to a mountain. This is not the last time we will see him place the castle on a mountain. Here it has a more fantastical and less Earthly look.
Later when Morpheus is sulking over his breakup with the witch Thessaly his castle has taken on a more Gothic appearance, almost resembling something out of a Hammer Horror movie or an old English manor house ala Jane Eyre.
When Morpheus agrees to help Delirium the castle takes on a more happy and fantasy / fairy tale style (Bavarian) appearance and is easily accessible (not on a mountain) meaning Morpheus is in a friendly and socialable mood.
At the start of The Kindly Ones storyline the castle has almost a fairy tale / Bavarian appearance but is now high on a mountain. Morpheus has become antisocial.
Later in that same storyline the castle is still high on a mountain but bears a striking resemblance to the traditional Dracula castle AKA Poenari castle of Romania.
And it changed form slightly through the story, sometimes looking more imposing and other times looking Gothic and even Gothic Catholic church Cathedral-like, almost spiritual and brooding.
At the start of Sandman: Overture the castle took on yet another new look. This time of a more traditional European castle, possibly Scottish design, similar to Wyvern castle of Disney’s Gargoyles.
In a flashback during Overture The Castle yet again takes on a phallic appearance, coincidentally while Morpheus is with a lover.
Why am I posting all of these?
1. To prove a point to a friend who thought it only looked phallic in the 2nd issue because it was in ruins. (You wish.)
2. To point out (in advance) that if they make a Sandman film or TV show then the castle can literally look like anything. So please don’t complain if it doesn’t precisely match your favorite part of the story.
Personally, I like it best when it looks like an authentic medieval European castle (Bavarian, Romanian, Scottish or English).
Controversial opinion below:
I, personally, do not think slavish faithfulness is a good idea in regard to how the castle looks in Prelude and Nocturns (the early Sandman comics). If it looks too phallic it could be distracting for casual viewers and take them out of the story, especially when it only looks like that maybe twice in the continuity but usually looks like an authentic European castle.
I honestly think it would be a bad idea to use the phallic castle design in a movie or TV show. Even if the possible TV show is done by Stars or Showtime. There’s plenty of adult content already in Sandman without “Hehe penis and balls Castle” distracting viewers from an important scene.