Project Info MaterialsThe big image shown was the original concept mark up. The current in publication artwork is this:
You can find the art used in the covers of all of Ring Realms books at this page: Amazon Ring Realms Books
. Note: This commission is for the 5th book of the Reality’s Plaything series.
A full-size PSD layout for titles and text in the final project execution can be downloaded from here:
Drop Box Link to Production Art
The concept is the novel’s hero Bannor, slugging it out with these massive hulk-like creatures called coven-dreadnaughts. The original artist Gina did a couple good likenesses of Bannor in this promo piece and in the cover for the 4th book (you will notice two versions of him in both pics) — The larger form is his “ascended” form — this is what I wanted highlighted on the last book, because in every other cover he’s in pain, getting his butt kicked or in a position of weakness. So, wanted an action scene with him large and in charge so to speak.
Below are excerpts that give the flavor of the characters and my world. There is also the scene from which I originally had the cover idea (excerpt 3). Hopefully, these are good enough to give you some creative inspiration. The Lokori is a side-character but I think the scenes capture the energy. 🙂
Flavor Text for the Lokori (Chapter 21)
“Since it is time for battle,” Gaea said. “Let me summon one who lives for it.”
The way the green mother said it made Bannor’s skin prickle. To hear that tone coming from Gaea made his heart beat faster.
She raised a hand. “Bhaal,” she intoned.
In a blaze of light, the Lokori woman appeared. In flourish of blue hair, the female knelt before the goddess and spread her hands in supplication. “Mother, I come,” she murmured.
“Bhaal,” Gaea said in a thrum. “My enemies are here. It is time to make war.”
The Lokori’s head came up and her golden eyes flashed. The creature bared her fangs in a grin. “Show me, Mother.” She let out a guttural snarl. “Give me, battle.”
“Daughter, unsheathe thy claws.”
Bhaal growled and spread her hands, energy licked through her arms as claws of infinite sharpness rasped into being around her fingers. She rose to her feet and bowed to Gaea. Her gaze went to Marna.
“No,” Gaea snapped. “I will show you the enemy.”
Bhaal sniffed and bowed her head.
“Gaea you’re insane,” Marna breathed.
“They seek to dominate. I will teach them fear.” She turned to Bhaal. “Approach me, Daughter.”
Bhaal stepped close and Gaea put her hand on the Lokori’s head. “Bhaal, you will be my defender, my knight, you already have your weapon, this is your armor.” In a shimmering haze, liquid silver seemed to flow out over the creature’s body, making her skin look like the reflective surface of a mirror. “Your devotion to me will be your strength. Your faith, your thoughts to me will give you my power. Think of me, my child, give me your love and feel yourself grow strong.”
The Lokori stared into Gaea’s face, her expression already one of fanatical zeal. Her mouth opened and her eyes fluttered as eternity’s energies licked and crackled around the female’s trembling body.
“Yesss,” Bhaal hissed, hands clenching into fists.
Bannor stared at the Lokori. The sight of her made his insides grow cold; violence incarnate, a hurricane of slashing destruction that could be aimed and unleashed. Gaea was right, the enemy would know fear…
Appearance of the Dreadnought Titan
Something boomed to the bottom of the stairwell ahead of them and pounded out into the main corridor. It was big–bigger than a dreadnaught, with the same gold skin with reddish veins running through it. It looked like some demented body mechanic had smashed three dreadnaughts into an even more distorted shell of brutish power.
The sight of the thing and the millions of threads associated with it made Bannor gape. “No way,” he murmured. “No frelling way.” He willed himself into battle form with a crackle of metalizing flesh. Beside him, Daena did the same.
Dulcere and Marna’s aides fired on the creature but might as well have been spraying water on it for all the effect it had. The monster hunched, its shoulders down. It was wider than a wagon. Even a Rhinotaur would have fainted at the sight of the beast.
“Get back,” Bannor told the Kriar as it started forward. “Quick!”
He started to intercept the creature but Gaea’s voice halted him. “Bannor, no. Bhaal, go!”
With a blood curdling shriek the Lokori leaped over their heads and lashed forward in a blur.
The new creature was faster than the dreads he had met in combat before, but compared to the speed of the savage Lokori, it looked to be trapped in amber. It struck once and only once, with enough force to crater the floor and make the entire citadel shudder. A rain of stone fragments made everyone dodge.
Bhaal was already sliding to a stop behind it, claws steeped in black blood. In an eyeblink, the thing’s chest had been laid open to the spine. Its demolished heart reduced to ribbons of shredded flesh.
The dread titan made a gargling sound, blood poured from its lips and its limbs quivered. It took a single step and pitched over with mushy thud.
The Lokori turned, eyes burning with flame. “These lives, Mother…” she hissed. “I give them to you…”
The Scene The Cover Idea Came From
Bannor turned down the hall, he made where he was going no secret, so anyone who wanted to follow would. He turned the shaladen back into a shield and pushed into a run, confident in Sarai and Bhaal’s ability to keep pace with him. Gaea would come along more slowly but she would have the others to guard her.
He blazed down the passage and around a turn and past the heavily fortified infirmary. The Baronian war-maidens, a half dozen valkyries and three Kriar stood guard outside. As he passed he saw that the treatment pallets appeared full with Wysteri, Mercedes, and Octavia all hard at work treating wounds with the assistance of a handful of the younger members of the Felspar clan.
Bannor rounded the next turn, stumbling as a roar followed by a shock that shook the stone underfoot. He caught his balance and increased his speed.
<Bannor!> Wren yelled in his mind. <Frelling hurry!>
<almost there,> he called back as he rounded the turn into the next corridor. As the area lit up ahead of him, he saw the source of Wren’s panic–another dreadnought titan. The Kriar, ascendants, Felspars, and Shael Dal, and valkyries were throwing all their strength at the monster and the contingent of Baronians advancing in its wake.
“Everyone get down!” he bellowed, leaning into a full sprint.
Fighting for their lives, most of the defenders didn’t have the luxury of throwing themselves flat, but several ducked and that gave him the space he needed. Wren, her clothing shredded on her lithe body stood toe-to-toe with the beast in a brutal clash of naked power versus skill.
He leaped over the back ranks of the defensive line that included three Kriar officers, Loric, Ziedra, Euriel, Vanidaar, Azir and Damay. Shael Dal Dominique, Corim, Megan and Adwena, Cassandra, Dorian, and Desiray were pelting the corridor with arrows, energy, and spells, keeping the enemy from slipping around the fight.
Heart drumming in his chest, Bannor turned himself into a catapult shell willing himself into battleform in mid-flight, increasing his mass the whole time he hurdled through the air. Black blood sprayed as his fist pounded the creature’s head back, and his knees slammed into the behemoth’s chest. Despite the titan’s prodigious strength it fell back under the massive hit.
The beast let out roar as it smashed to the corridor floor with all of his weight crushing down on top of it. He knew better than to stay anywhere near those powerful arms and rolled off into the midst of the Baronians and Kriar with his shaladen shield up, ripping and tearing at every thread in sight. Blasts and spells came at him and he braced for it. The indestructible shaladen shuddered under the power, but tons of weight made him able to shrug it off. His throat tightened as he sensed the Daergons flickering through the ether toward him. He snatched for their threads but his grip slipped off. They moved so fast and kept their bodies shifting. With a realization that made him go icy inside, he realized they had devised a way to block the Garmtur.
Behind him, Bhaal descended on the staggered titan with savage howl and an eruption of black blood. The Lokori’s battle cry became a stone-shaking roar as the juggernaut’s immense lifeforce burst into blue-haired creature’s body.
Uttering battle-crazed shrieks, Bhaal launched past him into the group of oncoming Daergons. Claws flaring with Gaea’s power, she blazed through them, rending and tearing at hurricane speed. Shielded by their new defense, the Lokori’s ultra-sharp talons hit and deflected. Staggering the enemy warriors but drawing no blood.
Bannor couldn’t grip the threads of the Kriar themselves, but threads of their shields remained vulnerable. With a heave of will he clamped down on the main paths of power energizing their defenses. The interruption lasted only an instant. That eye-blink gave Bhaal all the opportunity she needed to rip through the hearts and minds of the rogue Kriar in gouts of white blood.
The golden invaders went down in shredded messes as Gaea’s ferocious knight stalked forward letting out a hungry ululation…