Making Tea The Firtollán Way

Two things inspired this:

  • A few months ago, I had the misfortune of trying to get a Tassimo coffee machine to work;
  • Banging my head off the very finicky JavaScript package managers npm and yarn.

So, here’s the fictional instructions for a tea machine developed by a dwarf-owned firm, meant to be performed by one person. I’m considering a larger piece around this needlessly complicated process.

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The Dwarven Inqusition Comes…

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! But what about that of the Dwarven League?

The knock on the door was something that Colonel Munro had been expecting for the last five or ten minutes, after the telephone on his desk had warned him that the visitors had arrived at the inner security checkpoints. Closing the pair of dossiers and the report that lay on his desk, he looked up and barked a command to enter. His adjutant swung the door open, announcing that the visitors from the Containment Office had arrived.

“Send them in, Cole. And have somebody fetch Dr Magnusson,” Munro ordered, standing up. The lieutenant withdrew and stepped aside, revealing a pair of nuns who were both clad in dark khaki habits. The one on Munro’s right was just about four feet high, with larger eyes and a pair of sun goggles dangling around her neck – clearly a woman of the tunnels. The other one was apparently human and, with far fewer lines on her face, appeared to be younger. Neither bore any obvious sign of a particular order, but they didn’t need to.

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Art process: We Are Always Watching

During a slow day at work, I sketched out a couple of images of a face mask or helmet to be worn by the enforcers of the dwarven church in the CDZ series. I had drawn a preliminary one about a year ago, based on an image from this Hackaday article on a Norwegian night vision device and the masks worn by the Overseers in Dishonored. However, it took a few attempts before I was happy with it. I figured I may as well document my process, such as it is.

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Rage Against The Mirror Self

A girl staring at a mirror from behind. The portrait in the mirror is splattered in blood and appears to be grinning insanely

Siobhán lowered her hands into the stream of the tap, savouring the flash of warmth as the lukewarm water hit her soil-covered skin. After five hours of gardening in a draughty, half-leaking greenhouse, it was good to just be alone for five minutes. Unfortunately, it couldn’t last, as one of Maebh’s teasing comments about herself and Diarmuid came unbidden to the fore.

“Come on, Shiva. The doctors aren’t going to care if you hug him once.”

Shiva. Diarmuid’s nickname for her. A name he genuinely hadn’t known was that of the Hindu god of destruction. In fact, he hadn’t even known of them – he’d just “heard the name somewhere”. It was still a pagan god of destruction…



She tried not to look at the mirror as she raised her head, but found herself unable to look away from it. Facing her was herself, just as expected. The same brown hair, green eyes and rounded jaw. She close her eyes for a brief moment, and opened them again to see-

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Tappers and the Office of Containment

Here’s a couple of artwork pieces I’ve been working on for Connacht Disaster Zone. One is a logo for a dwarven organisation that is responsible for investigating “Fomorian infiltration” in the areas immediately surrounding the disaster zone, and the second below the fold is one of their propaganda posters.

I’m not 100% sure on the grammar of this, but this translates roughly as “Office of Containment”. They’re effectively a secret police organisation under the auspices of the dwarven church, with a fair amount of authority (and some friction with other units). I’m planning to add a few stories that involve them.

I had the original image completed a week ago, following this GIMP tutorial, and most of the intervening time has spent been trying to figure out a name for the unit. All of them were longer and more haphazardly spelled; I’ve occasionally joked that the first person to write Irish down must been severely dyslexic.

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Fomorian Fantasies of the Future

Gráinne was bored. Outwardly, her expression didn’t change as she stared out the window, absently watching the waves in the bay, but she was still feeling peevish about being chased out of the library earlier that morning. Sure, her mother and father-in-law needed to discuss something in quiet with Aidan, but did it really have to be when she had just curled up in the armchair? And it wasn’t her shift on the wireless scanning rota, so she couldn’t even make herself useful by listening to the enciphered messages that Aidan suspected were coming from somewhere named Cruagh Island.

Her train of thought didn’t so much leap as make a sharp right-hand turn into wondering who they were meant for, and if it was possible to reach across the sea with these radio waves. Not the immediate one between Cleggan and Inishbofin, but the wider sea out towards North America. And if so, could they reach the other side of the world…and if so, could they be used to send something other than dotted bleeps and dashed creeps?

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Siobhán vs Shiva

A girl staring at a mirror from behind. The portrait in the mirror is splattered in blood and appears to be grinning insanely
A girl staring at a mirror from behind. The portrait in the mirror is splattered in blood and appears to be grinning insanely

I originally sketched this in about twenty minutes.

In some pieces, Diarmuid has referred to Siobhán as “Shiva”, completely unaware that this is the Hindu god of destruction. In fact, in the story where he first refers to her as Shiva, he doesn’t even know what Hinduism is.

Siobhán hasn’t taken being turned into a Fomorian very well, even if she doesn’t actually have the fangs that her mirror self shows. This is really her perception of herself after being forcibly mutated.

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Serpentoid Site Scouts

A pair of snakes with arms, lurking in the grass. One holds a telescope.

PDF version

“Smell that?” Kerigoo hissed, his tongue flickering as he tried to identify the unusual scent on the wind. Debraa slowly lowered her spyglass and began to taste the air in turn, her eyes roving over the human fort that sat four hundred furlongs to their south. She nodded silently; it smelt quite different to wood or peat smoke, yet somehow similar enough that it had to be something burning.

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Fomorians in their own words: Mstr D

I wasn’t born an orc, not that it’d make much difference. I didn’t become one until after some ne’er-do-well sold me to an utter scut from Connacht Trading named “Dr Burke”. I don’t know exactly how, but I ended up on an island I can’t name.

Two or three months later, I still have nightmares every other night about being exposed. I’m tied to a stretcher, and have been for maybe three days since they cut open my arms. They feed me twice a day with a tube through a mask, and dunk me in cold seawater in the morning to clean away the bodily fluids from yesterday. They put this other mask over my mouth and nose, connected to some metal canister. There’s some kind of fan circling above me, pulling the air out of the room, and they leave and seal the room. I know Shiva [Ms S] is in the next room, having them same thing done to her.

The air starts smelling dry and stale. I start trying to pull my arms and legs – anything I can move – but it does nothing. I scream, but none of them care. They just watch me from the other side of a glass window about two inches thick. Four feet, maybe an inch more, and I’d be outside the room. But I can’t move!

I don’t remember the details of how we got out. Maybe I don’t want to. What I do know is that I – that we ended up being handed over to the bulldogs by some orcs. And they were angry about it. Not handing us over, but that we’d been turned. Seems they hate the “Fomorian Brotherhood” as much as anyone in Galway would. Who’d have thought it? Certainly nobody I knew, or at least none had the guts to say so.

The only change I’ve noticed is that I have thicker muscles. That’s the only thing that is definitely down to me being, well, turned into an orc. I don’t sleep great, I jump if anything goes off behind me and my temper’s shorter than it was…but I’m told these aren’t related. I wouldn’t know. All I know is that I wouldn’t have put myself forward for it, that I’m stuck with it, and that I had absolutely no say in it.

Mstr D

This is in fact Diarmuid. In some of my other stories, I’ve portrayed him as cynical and bitter about being forcibly turned into an orc, though he doesn’t mind the extra muscles.

Character Sketches: The O’Rourke parents

More sketches done over the weekend, courtesy of an old scanner my parents had lying around. Both of these are supporting characters in the series: the heads of a clan of Fomorian smugglers around Letterfrack and Cleggan. They’ve had more page time in the longer novel I had originally worked on, but I’d like to bring them more into focus.

And here’s a video of myself filling in the Countess. Unfortunately, I forgot to unpause OBS after switching images, so no video of the Earl :facepalm: