Two Roads Diverged... WIP Picture

Full title: "Two Roads Diverged In The Spirit Land WIP."

PLEASE comment if you fave! I worked hard on this.
All right, I'm going to try to take part in the 100 Picture Challenge, or whatever it's called here. Basically, you draw one picture each for one of 100 themes. I just started learning how to draw human faces about two months ago. I was going to hold off on entering the challenge until I'd gotten bodily postures down better, but figured that if I waited that long I'd never get anywhere. So I know I still need a lot of work. Maybe doing this challenge will help me improve, maybe not. I like to hope that maybe someday I'll be able to redo this picture and it'll look a whole lot better. For now though, it's much better than what I could have done a couple of months ago.
This illustrates a scene from Part 115 of Return To Manitou Island [link] and pictures the theme of "Two Roads." Protagonist Charmian has to walk the Spirit Road, the way to the Spirit Land, to find the ghost of Wabasso and bring him back to help her defeat an evil spirit. In Ojibwa mythology, it takes four days to walk this Road, and Charmian's mentor has warned her that in order to find her way she'll have to always take the most difficult path. The scene that follows here is just the beginning...and is the EASY part of the Road. It gets a LOT harder as it goes along.

Sadly, I realized only as I was inking this that I committed an error either in this or in the earlier drawing, "Spirit Land" ( [link] ) (and possibly also "Vision Seeker," [link] ). In those drawings, Charmian is dressed in summer wear or the scenery depicts summer...whereas here she's wearing winter clothes. I THOUGHT this scene took place in winter weather, but I can't really recall at the moment. I guess I'll have to check. Either way, at least one picture is wrong!
This is just the inked sketch. I'm planning on filling it all in with colored pencil, as that's the only medium I have, that and a photo program which mangles my pictures when I resize and try to up the saturation a bit.
Anyway...the next theme I believe is "Illusion" and I already have an idea in mind.
This will be scrapped later on when I upload the finished version. Just wanted to put this in my gallery to brag a bit.
Criticism not desired as I already know all the flaws this has, thank you very much.
Look in my Scraps to see how this looked while in progress.

She had gone about twenty minutes or so, the Road winding left and right and left and right, before her brow furrowed. "How long is this thing...?" She winced. "That's right...four days to get there. Four days? Ugh." She fiddled with her strap. "What if I have to go to the bathroom...?" Then she rolled her eyes. "Duh, I'm a spirit, I don't HAVE to take bathroom breaks! Sheesh, the things one thinks about when one's temporarily disembodied..." She stared at the Road, then looked around herself. "You'd think it could at least be a little bit scenic...this is almost borAAAGGHH!!"

Her foot went out from underneath her and she toppled from the Road, only remembering to grab hold of something at the last minute. She grasped onto the clumps of grass along the Road itself and glanced down to see where she had almost fallen. She expected to see the same odd mist, yet somewhere far below it she could make out vague shapes apparently swimming around, and when she stared at them in surprise they lifted their heads and roared. They looked like giant snakes with horns--!

Charmian yelped and dragged herself back up onto the path, gasping for breath. She got to her feet and started running, hoping to get away from that stretch of Road as quickly as she could. It was quite a while before she convinced herself to slow down before she could fall again, and even then she walked extremely carefully, keeping her eyes fixed on the Road this time.

"You already tried that before," she said, a bit reproachfully; but the Road didn't answer. She sighed and adjusted her pack, just to give herself something to do, before continuing in silence.

She eventually lost track of the time, unable even to tell how far she'd traveled by looking back, since the Road twisted and turned constantly, and she could never see behind herself more than perhaps fifty feet or so before it vanished into the mist. She looked ahead, and saw only more mist. Her fingers fiddled and she bit her lip, hating how monotonous everything was here.

How can somebody walk this thing for four HOURS, much less four DAYS--? I think I'll go crazy before I ever reach the Spirit Land--!

"At least it's easy so far," she murmured to herself, then looked up and saw that it forked ahead. Curious, she picked up her pace and came to a halt at the fork, the Road continuing into two trails now, one leading...left, and one leading right.

Charmian glanced at the trail on the left. It looked much the same as the one that she had previously been walking. She looked at the one on the right, and saw that it was littered with large boulders and fallen tree branches, a dead tree practically blocking the entire path some distance ahead. She frowned.

"Always take the most difficult path," she recited, then shrugged. "Well, that one's pretty obvious." She turned right and started walking, picking her way over the rocks and carefully climbing over the fallen tree. She heard a soft hissing noise behind her, and turned her head just in time to see the lefthand path fading away into the mist, as if it had never even been there. Her face brightened, and she slid down from the tree.

"Piece of cake!" she exclaimed, dusting her hands. She stepped around the rest of the boulders. "I know I can handle harder than this."

And I KNOW I shouldn't have just said that...

She walked on for a while before the Road forked again, this time into three trails. She paused to examine each. The middle one was about the same, with a boulder here and there; the right one went up an almost impossibly steep hill, and the one on the left looked as if it were disappearing into water. She pondered her choices, glancing between the left one and the right one.

"Heights, or water." She looked back. "Water, or heights...I don't have much of a problem with either. So...which one...?" She then spotted something looking like a large eel or snake slithering through the water over the lefthand path, and shivered, making a face. "Ugh...I guess I get this one, too."

She reluctantly headed left. The water that she put her feet into was cold and slimy, and she grimaced the entire time she walked through it, feeling strange equally slimy things brushing against her legs as she walked. She made a point of not looking down at them and hoped that the Road wouldn't drop out from under her. Just as soon as she thought this, it did just that, and she yelped before splashing beneath the scummy water. She popped up immediately, gasping and sputtering, and started paddling frantically to reach the Road where it rose from the opposite side. She pulled herself onto dry land and commenced hastily rubbing the scum off of her clothing and out of her hair.

"Ew ew ew ew!!" she cried, spotted one of the eel-things curled around her ankle, and let out a scream before kicking it off. She started running again and the Road quickly resumed its original appearance, so she walked along now, rubbing her wet arms and scowling.

"Didn't need the water again, thank you!" she grumbled.

She resumed walking, rubbing at her arms even more as the Road grew colder. For quite a while it went on like this, dreary and monotonous, and she wondered how long she had been walking so far. Her thoughts drifted as she tried to remember what little she actually knew of this place.

Stick said the four days might be short or long. Did he mean that time passes differently here--? Like the difference between the Island, and the mainland--? If so, then how do I really know when I reach the end...?

How will I even know what the end LOOKS like...?

This thought unsettled her a little; if the Road was going to trick her, it only stood to reason that it would try something like that. She hoped it was in a good mood.

She looked up, and sighed when another fork came into view. "At least make it original," she grumbled as she slowed, looking from one side to the other. She frowned. Both trails looked much the same.

"Well--now what do I choose--?" she murmured in puzzlement. "I always kind of figured it'd be EASY to tell which one's more difficult--after all, how else am I supposed to take the most difficult path!"

Charmian and Stick-In-The-Dirt ( "Stick" ) are © Tehuti.
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