Haroth mask design entry Picture

this was for my entry to Aivomata's mask design contest, i didn't win so i will have to find another use for it, i already have a few ideas for a pair of characters that will wear this mask and the other one here draggon-rider2.deviantart.com/… as for the water monster i have yet to decide what to do with it



old entry for contest

a picture of the beast she fought and slew can be found here draggon-rider2.deviantart.com/…

right less than half an hour after posting and i have already made some changes, here is the original sta.sh/0233y2qxa86z i wanted to make the markings mimic the defeated foe, if possible could both version be included in the contest? if not then this version (this one, with face markings)is the one i want to submit





backstory

a predatory water dragon is causing problems in the salt marshes. while the Haroth don't frequent the area normally there are many important medicinal plants that grow there and lots of prey items live in the area (rabbits, wild sheep/goats, tiny wetland ponies, birds like marsh partridges, and edible frogs) that the Haroth rely on in times of hardship.
the water dragon has made it difficult to collect medicinal herbs and fungi actively hunting any who intrude on its territory it also consumes vast quantities of prey

once it was identified as a threat several young Haroth set of on their own to slay it in order to prove themselves worthy one managed to gouge out its left eye but apart from that all injuries dealt were largely superficial and the young Haroth in question were injured with different degrees of severity



story (sorry about spelling and grammer)

It was huge, immense really, the top of its great green head, covered in algae and debris from the murky marsh followed her as she circled it slowly from the air, its one good eye fixed on her unwaveringly as she watched it in turn. She was still bitter that her first proper victory would be marred by the pre-existing handicap dealt by another Haroth, this was her fight she should have been entitled to all the glory of defeating this beast, she was powerful enough to take on 10 of the stupid creatures dull and slow as they were, she was fast, clever and strong and had had the forethought to prepare properly while others had rushed off at the first chance to prove themselves and got injured, like the idiots they were, while she had stayed and finished her training and picked her weapon and stocked her light travelling pack with rations and medicinal poultices and balms and had finished brewing the strong potion that she would use to tip her spear with.

Though its injury was irritating she would have to move now if she wanted the chance to defeat it, when she had left there had already been talk of the elders summoning a small group of the higher ranking guard to eradicate the beast so she would have at best the next 10 days to track it and kill it. she could imagine her older sister now undermining her for fighting an already wounded foe, bitterly picking holes in her stories and claiming she held back while the others weakened it but if she waited any longer there would be no telling when her next opportunity to prove herself would be, this was probably her only chance to prove herself better than her sister who had slayed the demonic Roc (huge mythological bird) in mortal combat aged 19, which was only one year and 3 months older than she was now. No, she needed to do this now she couldn't risk losing this chance or her sister would always hold it over her and.........

The beast lunged out of the water exposing its shocking red cheeks fully and almost caught her of guard, its neck much longer than she had anticipated allowing the blocky head to reach past where she had been gliding not seconds before its huge heavy jaws snapping shut like a clap of thunder as she pin-wealed away. She berated herself, that had been close, it would not pay to dwell on other things when fighting, she had learned that important lesson in training yet forgotten it so soon. her mother would be disappointed had she been there. Furthermore it would seem that she had underestimated the great creature, as unintelligent as the species tended to be this one seemed to have a malevolent sort of cunning and she had been startled by its speed, it would seem that though the hulking great body hidden below the water was slow it could move its head like a kicked viper. she darted back around to the side before the beast had a chance to change tactic to defend itself and she raked her sharp claws across its neck before pulling away to hover out of reach. that should have done something she had been under the impression that at the very least she could have removed the scales and a thin layer of flesh covering its jugular to allow her to make a fatal wound with her next blow but its scales had barely a scratch and there was no obvious sign of bleeding, she examined her claws with growing unease they had been dulled significantly by the blow and the lower edge was jagged and imperfect, she hissed lowely then refocused as the great head twisted and the one large green eye came to focus on her again, she would have to come up with a different strategy if she wanted to cause any real damage. The head moved again and she pulled the spear from its bindings across her back, she was good at improvising she could deal with whatever it threw at her.

Bit by bit it sank beneath the sloshing waves, the last part to go was the long horn on its nose and she hovered awaiting its next strike, and waited, and waited spear drawn and quivering in the dulled talons of her left foot as her wings beat furiously at the air...

It hadn’t reappeared for 3 days after that, she had gotten so frustrated that she almost left but the image of her sisters smug looking mask as she tilted her head and tutted patronisingly kept her there.

There were no trees on the marsh excluding one knarled, stunted and half dead birch, as the ground was too boggy and thin. For much the same reason she could not land safely without risking getting stuck which would leave her open to ambush. The nearest solid ground was a 75 minute flight away and she had relatively low stamina and could only stay airborne for 7 hours at a time which made her searches for her elusive foe even more desperate

Over the next few days she had more luck luring out the beast and managed to scrape superficial wounds across its snout and at the edge of its eyes letting the small amounts of poison seep through its blood stream. by the 9th day she could see that it was starting to slow, unfortunately so was she, her muscles ached she was getting increasingly fatigued and a few well placed head shakes on the monsters part had left her feeling battered and bruised even though she evaded the deadly snapping jaws.

On the 10th day she set of from her perch and made the long journey from the forest to the marsh land using thermals to glide where she could in a desperate attempt to conserve energy, this was her last chance the guards hunting party would be arriving the following morning and this would have all been for naught.

That day she flew for as long as she could eyes raking the muddy water for any sign of her foe, once or twice she caught a glimps of it or the hint of its presence through the swirling movement of debris it left in its wake, but the water was too thick with mud and decaying matter to keep track of it from one sighting to the next, she had the disconcerting notion that it was stalking her too and they were circling each other waiting for the other to make that fatal mistake....

She was exhausted, had long since used up her energy reserves, and she seemed to be remaining airborne with will power alone. She knew that she should turn back, give up and prepare for her next opportunity to prove herself; but she just couldn’t, every time she considered it the water would stir and she would immediately refocus her search. And in a strange way she felt that she owed it to the creature to see this threw to the end, as much as it galled her to admit it (even to herself) she had come to respect it, none of her training had quite prepared her for this sort of fight it seemed to turn patience in to a deadly weapon playing with her and luring her in to a false sense of security keeping her hooked with little flashes of a fin here and a snout there exhausting her while it conserved its energy and waited for the opportunity to attack. Not such a dumb beast after all, or so it would seem. She knew all this but she stayed barely airborn and unable to return to safety even if she tried, even if the monster didn’t get her then she still wouldn’t make it. apart from the birch there was nowhere she could safely land. Once she landed she would be grounded, lacking the energy to take flight or pull free from the muddy marsh.

She managed to stay air born for another 15 muinets before rest called to her like a sirens song, the crooked birch seamed to becon her with its false promise of safety. even thoug she fealt in her bones that it was unwise she headed doggedly towards it, the monster hadent made a reappearance for almost an hour now and the sun was starting to set, she let exhaustion and desperate hope take over; maybe the creature had left again maybe it wouldn’t return tonight, maybe she would be safe in the craggy twisted branches , perhaps she would even have enough time in the morning to continue the hunt if she woke early enough. She was closer now, one of the sturdier branches less than a wingspan away, she extended her legs in preparation to land.....

When a fast movement in her peripheral vision caused her to react instinctively, adrenalin suddenly thrumming threw her veins she flapped twice, changing her direction at the last muinet as the huge blur came in to focus in front of her. She watched horrified, time seamed to slow, that great big mouth, gaping wide, with a sharp beak and blunt crushing teeth like a parody of a grin before time seamed to spead up again, the beak started to snap down and caught the tips of the primary feathers of her left wing, and she was left flapping helplessly like a moth in a spiders web.

She didn’t want this, didn’t want her last moments to be staring in to the empty eye socket of a beast that she had come to slay, she wanted to see her family again, heck even her sister, and her friends and her pokey inadequate home. The beast kept its jaws clamped shut and shook its head, it seemed to be unwilling to let her go now that it had her, despite its precarious hold on her, intending to stun her before throwing her and catching her in a more deadly grip but she could read its intentions and grasped on to the bony ridge over its eye as if her depended on it, which it did. She desperately kicked in to the empty eye socket tearing at the disgustingly inflamed flesh and scabs in an attempt to force it to release her. It writhed tossing her about like bunting and she screamed at the pain caused by the pull on her feathers, eyes watering (technically a bit faulty as Haroth have features like this aivomata.deviantart.com/art/Ha… but it sounds dramatic so what you gonna do) she fumbled desperately for the spear on her back, managing to wrench it from its bindings, she stabbed it again and again in to the damaged tender flesh. One lucky blow plunged it along the path of the tattered optic nerve and in to its brain. She didn't have time to congratulate herself instead twisting and wrenching the spear to inflict as much damage as she could. The beast stilled, it seemed she had done it she pulled the spear out preparing to deal another blow when it started shuddering violently twisting and flinching unexpectedly one shudder so strong it caused her to lose her purchase, flinging her about as its jaw remained clamped shut about her wing causing her mask to fly off, she reached desperately for it and accidentally let go of the spear. She watched them fall away from her for a second before another shudder caused her to bash her head against its bony brow, she was dazed but managed to grasp on as it continued to shudder threw its death throes. And then they seamed to stop, only for the head and neck to sink back down in to the water trailing her like a broken kite. She gasped when she hit the water and kicked desperately as her deceased foe continued to drag her down with it to its watery tomb the feathers started to tear, the tips of some even ripped from her flesh and away from the feather notches on her bones, it hurt so much but she couldn’t scream, with one last kick she freed herself from its hold on her and desperately half clawed and half swam towards the surface the muddy water making the progress slow and obscuring most of the days dwindling light.

Just as she thought that she would never make it her clawed hand breached the surface and one last desperate pull allowed her to take the first spluttering breath of many, she was so tired and cold, the water dragged at her feathers and she crawled on to the unstable bank and towards the tree, at its gnarled roots she finally gave in to the temptation to sleep.

She woke with the sun the following morning she was so cold, the waterproof contour feathers and the soft layer of downy beneath were the only reason she hadn't died from hypothermia. She didn't want to move, she wanted to sleep for a month, just lay here and wait for the guards to carry her back home to safety and care and comfort, but she felt the niggle of wrongness, it took her a while to place it but when she did her hand flew to her face grasping for the mask that she knew wasn't there, exhaustion be dammed she knew she had to find it before anyone saw her. She scrambled desperately to her feat, looking for any sign of her mask. A few minuets in to the search she stumbles across the tip of her spear buried deep in the loam, the ground is soft and a few week tugs are enough to free it, undamaged but for a twisted tip, she is emboldened by finding it, the ground is so soft here that the chances are that her mask has fallen safely too, in fact the only thing hard enough to break it would be....

A sense of foreboding overcomes her as she turns back toward the tree, from this angle she can see something pale at the base, on the opposite side from where she had been laying, her knees feel week and she surges forward, using the spear as support, before she gets much further it is clear that it is a lost cause, she recognizes the intricate patterns on the shattered pale clay and she moves the rest of the way as if numb, she stares at it in horror hand shaking as she reaches for the pieces, it hits her then she can’t stay here in the open waiting to be found and carted back home like the hero she is, she can’t let anyone see her like this, as incomplete.

And suddenly the spell brakes, she can’t be found here like this and certainly not by the guards or any others from her community. She frantically picks up all of the broken pieces and stumbles towards the open water, hesitating a second before flinging them in. She almost goes in afterwards but holds herself back and watches as her old face sinks beneath the murky water this is no time to lament the past she needed to act now, a few experimental flaps of her wings tell her all she needs to know, even if she had the energy she wouldn't be able to get off the ground. Thinking quickly she used the spear edge to cut at the loam near the base of the tree and pealed back the upper surface, using a strong kick she compacted the decaying vegetation below and made herself a makeshift hiding place, it was dank and cold, she wouldn't want to stay down there long. stashing her spear in a bush she sat down, basking in the rays of the sun for as long as she could warming up and keeping an eye out for the hunting party. As soon as she caught a glimpse of them in the distance she slid herself down in to the hole and pulled the upper layer of loam across her, she shuddered it felt like a tomb.

regretfully and with no small amount of trepidation she watched the party spiral lazily closer, she knew how they worked, this first day would be spent gathering reconnaissance from high up before resting and recuperating their strengths for tomorrow, with any luck they would be finished by noon and she would be given the opportunity to make a break for the opposite tree line unseen, there was the Eebry estuary that way, the mouth of the river that snaked back up past her mountain home and deep inside the crystal caves.

It seemed that the hunting party were unaware that the monster was defeated, and despite a silly urge to reveal herself and claim credit she bit back the temptation, in a way it worked in her favor the hunting party stayed high up and completed the sweep of the marsh quickly moving back towards their camp a little before noon without getting close enough to discover her.

Once she knew they were gone she scrambled from the ground, fighting the latent claustrophobia. She retrieved the spear and looked around in frustration before climbing the tree to give her a better vantage point, the marsh was like a deadly labyrinth she needed to plan her rout wisely or risk being lost on the marsh overnight, luck was on her side, it hadn't rained in several weeks and there were a few ropy paths she could take to get where she wanted, she chose the most direct path and memorized it as best she could, it was strange having to navigate without a birds eye view.

As she started to climb down something caught her eye, a glimmer of gold shining in the sun, she snatched it from the lichen covered bark and examined it closely, she recognized the color it must have been a scale from the cheek of her fallen foe sent flying during the fight, an idea struck her and escape plan temporarily postponed she looked around desperately for more, it was almost poetic really to use the scales from the face of the one who had broken her own to make a new mask for herself but alas no others could be found and if she waited any longer she would jeopardize her chances of ever living long enough to craft her new face.

Dejectedly she stashed the small scale away safely and set off for cover but the fight had taken her face, her flight and changed her outlook on life to some degree, it was fitting that she used what she could find of the monster and the area to make her new mask, it would reflect who she was and the journey she had come on. She turned back towards the tree and spying a suitable hunk of broken and weathered limb she removed it and stashed it away for later, the tree that her old mask had shattered against would form the base of her new mask when she got round to carving it. Feeling better she headed off again weaving her way across the marsh, picking up the shattered skull of a ram and the few undamaged tail feathers of a marsh partridge along the way both animals having fallen to her now dead foe by the looks of the tracks surrounding the carcasses.

When she reached her camp she climbed the large oak with her small stash of sentimental treasures, after stowing them safely she uncovered her small pack from the hollow of the tree and ate the last of her rations and applied the healing salves to her aching abrasions curled up and rested.

Her camp site was convenient; not only did it keep her safe, and allowed her to discreetly observe the actions of the hunting party from a distance but her tree top vantage point also allowed her to hunt land bound prey with greater ease (since she was still unable to fly) and she spent just under a weak resting and recuperating there using her free time to whittle away at the wood with her bone knife carving it in to the rough shape, it wouldn't do as the finished mask but the rough texture would make it perfect to coat in clay later on. she removed the two horns from the shattered skull of the ram using her serrated bone knife and used a rough stone to grind the edges so it wouldn't be uncomfortable before slotting them through 2 holes she had carved in the temples of the mask.

As convenient as her current spot was she couldn't stay too long, despite the poultices she had applied infection had set in to several of her injuries and if she was going to get them treated properly she would have to return home. so once she had recuperated sufficiently she started in earnest on her long journey home walking along the Eebry river bank. The mountains wer a good day and a halves flight away so it would probably take her a fortnight or more in her current state but the slow progress would allow her time to ponder and collect the attractive colorful water polished stones from the river bead. she attaches 12 (4 large pebbles and 8 little ones ) to the horns of her mask using the mangled wiry remains of her bronze ankle jewelry. the other stones she keeps in a small pouch along with the feathers of the dead marsh partridge. she follows the river for a full week and a half before reaching the base of the mountain.

here she makes a slight detour to a well known clay deposit sneaking closer at night to remain unseen, she mixes ground chalk and bone fragments to the already pale clay to lighten it further then smears it across the rough wooden surface of the mask and around the base of the horns, she allows it to dry and harden slightly before pressing the partridge feathers, the small polished river stones and the single scale in to the still soft clay then leaves it to dry without moving it for a further 2 days which gives her time to recuperate hunt and prepare for the long trek up the perilous mountainside so she can return home victorious and get her mostly recovered (but still inflamed) injuries seen to properly.

While climbing she comes across a small Comphrey bush with tiny turquoise berries that she uses to paint the eyes of the mask before deciding to honor her fallen foe by mimicking its stripy face markings. Once dry she smears the wing scales of a small iridescent mountain butterfly over the upper lid of the eye hole so it shines subtly and catches the light.

3 days later and a fellow Haroth spots her stumbling half delirious with infection half way up the mountain side and she is flown home to receive the care she needs



its a bit shoddy towards the end and the spelling ain't great i know but there you go.





other info

she uses a small spear to hunt with, also using it as a crutch when her leg injury cases her pain and to defend herself from ground dwelling predators who try to take advantage of her grounded state to kill and eat her, she has a serated bone knife given to her by a good friend that she mostly keeps as a good luck charm



her injuries;

initial sever exhaustion that lasts a couple of days until she has rested enough to start her trek back, a minor head injury, a superficial gash on her left leg and traumatic loss of some primary flight feathers that have left painful busing and minor infection where they have torn from the flesh (though given long enough the wounds will heal and the feathers regrow).
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