A Grandson's Vow WIP Picture

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 is a scene from Part 80 of Escape From Manitou Island [link] and depicts my little Animiki (Thunderbird) character, Kenu, facing a very painful realization--the fact that his beloved grandfather, Nigankwam, has just been killed. This illustrates the theme of "Fortitude," as you can see from the snippet below.

(Note: Thunderbirds have two forms--a regular humanlike one with yellow eyes, and a gigantic birdlike one. Nigankwam was killed in his gigantic birdlike form, hence his size.)

This is just the inked sketch. I cropped off a bit of the background for now. 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 "Vacation" and I already have it sketched out.
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.

"Charmian," Niskigwun called from behind her, "we should get going now."

"In a minute," Charmian said, waving at him. "Kenu, you're sure you want to head back on your own? I mean--not that I doubt you or anything, but--well, it's a long way--and even I wouldn't remember it by now."

"I'll figure it out," Kenu said a bit stubbornly. "I always do! If I had been left in that cave, I would have found my way out eventually...I'm not a baby! Grandfather Nigankwam would've believed me." He blinked as if in surprise, then his fingers clenched at Nigankwam's feathers again, and his face once more dissolved into tears. He started crying and hiccupping and Charmian had to gnaw on her lip to keep from crying herself. She paused when he started bobbing from side to side a little bit, between Nigankwam and herself, and tried to figure out what exactly he must be doing; when she saw how he seemed reluctant to let go of the Thunderbird's feathers, she inched a tiny bit closer, and a moment later found him clinging to her leg instead, wailing out loud. She put her hand on his head, wishing she could think of anything more useful to do.

"G-G-Grandfather Nigankwam's the only one who believed in me," he sobbed, his voice breaking.

"That's not true," Charmian insisted.

He let out a particularly loud sniffle. "Yes it is! When the other A-A-Animiki would poke at me he ALWAYS told them off! He said I would be o-o-ogimah of the tribe someday! He taught me everything I kn-kn-know! I can't do anything without him!"

"That's not true!" Charmian echoed herself, helplessly.

Kenu snuffled. "Yes it is! I can't go back to the tribe now! Not without him! I don't know the way, and he's s-s-so big..."

"We will have to leave him here and get going," Niskigwun called out. Charmian made a face at him and waved again.

Kenu's head popped up and his eyes went wide. "I--I can't LEAVE him!!" he cried, digging his fingers into her knee. "Please don't make me leave him!!"

"But--it's like you said," Charmian protested. "I mean--look at him! He's huge. We can't carry him with us--"

"Can't we stay?" Kenu begged. He clutched her leg tighter. "Not everybody! Just you and the nice ones! Please--? Until--until the others come for me?"

"This could be ages!" Niskigwun exclaimed. This time Charmian dunked her hand in the water and splashed him; he took a step back, sputtering, but scowled and then whirled away, stomping back to shore. She put her hand over one of Kenu's, barely able to meet his large pleading eyes.

"Kenu, we have to keep heading north," she said. "It's our mission. You can come with us if you want, but we can't stay here beyond tomorrow morning or so."

"Please?" Kenu begged. "I can't just leave him here!--but I can't stay here on my own! Please--?"

Charmian opened her mouth even though she could think of absolutely no more words; arguing with him now was like stepping into a shelter and trying to remain chipper while eyeing all the homeless dogs. Even his eyes were the same. She had to avert her own, grasping his hand and attempting to get to her feet, when a splashing noise from behind surprised her and she glanced back, ready to hurl wet sand at Niskigwun if she had to. She was surprised to see that it was Manabozho instead; he came sloshing toward them with a dark look on his face, and she took pause on seeing it, wondering what it could mean. Before she could ask, he stopped just beside her, reached down, and grabbed hold of Kenu by the front of his outfit. Charmian watched with wide eyes as he lifted the crying little Animiki into the air so that they were face to face, then opened her mouth to ask, "Manabozho--?"

CRACK! Her jaw fell so wide open that it nearly hit the lake, and her eyes nearly fell from her head, all of the blood draining from her face. Kenu blinked in surprise as well, a red welt arising on his cheek where Manabozho had just smacked him; Charmian shot to her feet, fists clenched. "'Bozho!!" she yelled, her voice going oddly high pitched.

Manabozho brought Kenu right to his face. "Are you just going to sit here crying all damn day?" he snapped, eyes livid. "And holding the REST of us up when we have more IMPORTANT things to do--?"

Thomas was hurrying out into the water now, which was a good thing, as Charmian's face was going redder and redder; he reached her just in time to grab her arm and keep her from launching herself at Manabozho. He had to strain just to hold her back, and dug his feet into the sand.

"Easy girl," he murmured.

Kenu stared at Manabozho for a moment, then his eyes welled up again. "B-b-but, Grandfather--" And he glanced over his shoulder toward Nigankwam. "I c-c-can't just leave him behind--!"

"Look at him!" Manabozho whirled him around and held him out toward Nigankwam's body. "He's DEAD! And he's NOT COMING BACK!"

The tears started running down Kenu's face and he began sniffling again.

Charmian tensed and Thomas pressed his shoulder against hers. "Am I going to have to freeze you?" he hissed between his teeth.

Manabozho yanked Kenu back toward himself and bared his teeth at him. "Use your head for more than feathers, stupid! You really think that just SITTING here and whining is going to do any good? Nothing you do can bring him back. No matter HOW long you sit here and hold us up! I thought Animiki were BETTER than that, to just sit and CRY when things get hard!"

Kenu's lip quivered. "B-b-but he's dead! What am I supposed to do without him?"

Manabozho snarled. "Be an ANIMIKI for once!" He practically hurled Kenu at the water, and the little Thunderbird struck it with a splash, blinking in confusion. "That IS what he would've wanted--isn't it?"

Kenu's face screwed up as if he were getting ready to yell--then he deflated and stared at Manabozho with wide eyes. "Wanted--?" he echoed.

"DUH!" Manabozho snapped. "THINK about it! His men are dead! Every best one of them! You yourself just said that he expected YOU to be ogimah someday--well--guess what today is!"

Kenu's eyes flooded again and he got to his feet, little fists clenched. "But--me?!" He looked back at Nigankwam, then at Manabozho, and then finally at Charmian, who blinked as soon as he met her eyes. "I don't have any idea what to do!! I don't know how to lead a bunch of Animiki!!" His voice cracked and he started sniffling miserably. "And they'd hardly want me leading them knowing that I left Grandfather behind!"

"Do you think that you could lead them much better with them knowing you didn't even fight?" Manabozho retorted; when Kenu fell silent, he pointed across the lake so viciously that the little Animiki jumped. "You can do one of two things! You can sit here and keep an eye on your grandfather's body, which hardly matters as HE'S not going to use it anymore, and wait for the REST of your people to come pick you up--and probably get eaten by Lynxes in the meantime! Or you can do what HE would've done!"

"Wh-what Grandfather would've done--?" Kenu stammered.

Manabozho dropped his hand and clenched them both into fists, stalking toward him so that he yelped and stumbled back, falling down against Nigankwam's breast. "FIGHT!" Manabozho blared at him, and Kenu flinched. Manabozho pointed again. "Out in that lake is an island! And on that island is one of the people behind what just happened here! We're going to go fight him, and THEN we're going to go fight the REAL one responsible! The one RESPONSIBLE for killing your tribe!"

Kenu's eyes slowly widened. "Fight...fight the one responsible...?" he murmured, and turned his head to peer at Nigankwam's face. "The one who killed Grandfather?"

There was a pause. Charmian untensed, and Thomas let go of her; she sloshed toward Kenu and stooped down beside him. "Kenu?" she said softly. "You can come with us, if you want. We're going to find the people behind this and put a stop to it. We won't stop until we do. You can help us out...or maybe one of us can try to take you back to your tribe...?" She started glancing at the others. "Maybe Niskigwun...or Mani...?"

Kenu let out a noisy sniffling sound and wiped his nose against his arm. He got to his feet, fists clenched. "No," he said, his voice still quavering but stronger than before. "Grandfather Nigankwam was right," he said. "He said someday I would be ogimah of my tribe. Well...I have to believe what Grandfather said." He rubbed his eyes and sniffled, then turned to look at her; she was surprised by the resolve that she saw there, despite his runny nose and the tears still dampening his cheeks. He drew himself up as much as he could, which wasn't much, but still, she knew it must be difficult even to do that.

"I will help fight and kill the one responsible for the death of my tribe," he stated. "And restore honor to Grandfather Nigankwam and my people!"

So saying, he turned to Nigankwam and strode toward his wing, halting and grasping onto it. Charmian and the others watched, puzzled, as he took hold of one of the smallest wing feathers and started pulling; it resisted at first, then came loose, and he let out a cry as he splashed back into the water with it. When he managed to get to his feet, grasping the dripping feather in his hands, Charmian saw that, despite its diminutive size on Nigankwam's wing, it was about half as long as Kenu was tall; still, she said nothing about this as he started affixing it to his head.

Thomas cocked his head to the side. "I rather thought they did that after they'd gained some sort of victory--?" he mused aloud, and Charmian shushed him.

Kenu gave a loud sniff and turned around. "I merely prepare myself!" he said. "For I will not likely make it back this way...after I KILL THE MANITOU RESPONSIBLE!"

Manabozho, the Animiki, and the Mishupishus (Underwater Lynxes) are from Ojibwa mythology. Charmian, Niskigwun, Kenu, Nigankwam, Thomas Leeds, and Mani are © Tehuti.
Continue Reading: The Muses