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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Desktop Images: Female Characters in Fantasy

There never seem to be a shortage of roles to play for females when in comes to the fantasy genre. I suppose that the story pertaining to be a conflict driven fiction, one of the most unlikely sources to build up drama and suspense comes by giving a God-damn super power to an unlikely young feminine protagonist.

Who am I kidding?
Female authors use ladies because it’s something they can relate to while male authors use ladies because they think always only of sex.

Try it. Pick up any male-authored fantasy genre book in the local Popular Books store Borders and I promise you by chapter 3-5, you’ll find a girl in heat and she’s not afraid to get a man wet.

Haha, innuendos aside, it doesn’t matter whether I use both male or female characters in imaginary realm I weave. Both of them hold unique ends of perspective when it comes to handling a crisis.

If you’ve been following the Clinton vs. Obama campaign in US-of-A (you must have been stranded on an island with a volleyball if you hadn’t heard of them), check out the slings and arrows of outrageous stupidity written by the political media and compare notes. One out of four articles will definitely discuss their democratic issues based on gender standpoints.

Bah! Enough blabbing. Back to fantasy. This week, I’ve collected the artwork of which includes the theme of female characters in various situations. It fascinates me on how so diverse their variety are.

Menfolk art, although just as diverse, seemed to be restricted to mostly recurring images based toward medieval/futuristic soldiers in all so many kinds of brooding battle poses that it’s getting really monotonous.

I’ll keeping looking though. It’s not as if Google’s a small search engine... *hehehe!*

Oh Goddess! by Alon

Alas! Art by Alon from

The story goes that a servant was trying to pour a glass of wine for the king, but the mischievous goddess from the wall painting crack a joke on him by rising his hand and pour the wine onto the king's head. The servant was terrified and didn't know why this happened and what to do, the others terrified too and hurried to get out of the way, because they knew -- he is dead for sure....


New Order by Sunhee Lee

The artist, Sunhee Lee, didn’t have a website to commemorate a profolio nor does she even has a story to go along with this magnificent piece created using Painter and Photoshop. So I’m going to write my story for the art.

She’s a battle-weary regent appointed amongst a magickin folk for liberty against an oppressive unseen enemy. The clan had just finished a stalemate battle and things weren’t going any better. Her armour had been shed, wounds were being tended. You can see her wings were slowly healing. She was strategizing a new woodland-based tactical maneuver when a message arrived.

The great tree-home had been besieged. Both her children had been kidnapped. If she wants them back, she must sign the declaration of surrender...

Alienation by Michelle Chuang

She’s definitely one of my favourite portraiture artist, as opposed to landscape artists. I already have her other work, the commissioned Legend of the Vampire, as a tableau to one of my characters for my project assignment (which really needed a blog update; working on that!). She drew this from an inspiration while visiting the newly opened Taipei 101 tower.

For myself, I too have a story formed in my head the longer I look at it, a sequel to my project. It’ll be a much darker continuation and who knows if the original characters will survive what I’m throwing at them?

Or, maybe I can just grab someone’s hand that’s holding a goblet of wine and...

Kaguya Hime by Kagaya

Kljs of kennyljs.comonce posted a small image called ‘Madonna Blue’ by this artist as well. I knew immediately that the picture was an older rendition by the artist; the sky was all wrong.

This is another artwork by the same artist, his very latest masterpiece. Kagaya is a Japanese who uses Greek mythology as inspirations. Check out his Zodiac series on his website.

Or if you walk along Tesco hypermarket, you can find really bad quality of his art in the jigsaw puzzle shelves. I don’t know who pirated them, but trust me, it’s better that you check the website.

The picture here is a rare step to an old Japanese mythology/faerie tale called the Bamboo Princess.

...She tells the old foster-parents who found her in a bamboo thicket and have brought her up with lots of love;
"I am not a common human being in this world. I am a Moonian.
I came down from the Moon as I was destined to. And now it's time for me to return home.
My compatriots are coming for me on the night of next Full Moon. I must go with them.
I've been in sorrow since last spring to think that you will grieve over my leaving." ...

PS: Oh, one more thing. I've changed the picture for April's Ascension (see sidebar). The ole one just wasn't dramatic enough forthe story I had in mind. Check the end of April for the complete tale but I definately prefer you hurl suggestions on what the month's image means to you. *hahaha!*

Friday, March 28, 2008

Photos: I Eat Five Major Food Groups

Regular readers know that my folks took a trip to the far away land of sand, anti-USA and “there are no gays” (as quoted by the government’s Top G-Man). Regular readers would also know that my female parental unit is also the sous chef in the house kitchen.

I had a chat the other day with Kavilan on MSN chat. He’s going through a vegetarian period at the moment and how there’s no really nice veggie restaurant that can trumps what his mom can make.

Like him, I pretty much eat whatever Mak cooks. Almost.

Yes, I miss her cooking (more so when I read YozoraNiteSky's new blog). Even more so as I sure use some good hot food while doing the study cramps. My busy-ness notwithstanding, I’m only allocated a small currency for the 2 weeks they went MIA (not including petrol money).

Nonetheless, I made sure I’ve been eating all five major food groups.
Canned, frozen, instant, delivery and take-out.

Mee goreng’s a failure. There was too much of it, seasoning’s all wrong and I think it was a bit under cooked. Then again, I used Mamee instead of the old favourite Maggi. Like this also, can-ah? ... maybe not.

Frozen. I thought of experimenting something like a veggie soup by using steamed mixed veggies. Call me crazy but I thought it might work.

Experiment failed. I ate two mugs of orange mush. It was a hot meal and that was good enough for me during those rainy days. Maybe I needed to add more olive oil and veggie stock?

Okay, so I don’t always cook badly. I’m really good with eggs. Omelette, mata kerbau, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, you name it. Made myself some meat and toast.

Aaaah, Campbell’s chicken and mushroom soup. I thought to make it more filling by chopping some whole mushrooms, also caaaaaaanned (pun intended).

Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle. I swear it was like jelly when it so neatly slid out of the tin can. Imagine that if it gets into some guy’s gut, it still wiggles and jiggles.

Ooooo, sunk like quicksand. I think I’ll use the excess mushrooms from the can to make some grilled cheese-and-mushroom burger (update on that later).

To be more realistic, most of what I had were just instant coffee. It’s quick and uplifting. Okay so in the long-term we all still need to eat. I still got some of that really bad mee goreng I couldn’t stomach.

Ooooo, hello there? It’s the neighbour’s cat.

Hey sweetie. You want a snack?

Haha, so I’ve only been eating 3 of the 5 food groups. Only yesterday I spend some money on a large Burger King set (damn you 2heroes and simonso!) and some of their cheesy sticks. Right, I’ve done take out. I’ve still yet to get something under ‘delivery’.

Oh gee, let me think...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Being the Middle Girl in Break-Ups

I was reading Raising Mercury’s blog the other day. She wrote an entry about arranged marriages but that’s not what I’m rambling today. I dropped in a comment about I don’t think I’ll ever decide to get married and if I do, I’ll just agree to whoever that comes by.

My decision was mostly influenced by the horror stories I’ve heard while growing up, sitting around with all my aunts and aunts’ friends. Hard working women suddenly becoming their husbands’ first wives, divorce stories, infidelity, back-stabbing at work because of it and even children blaming themselves and getting high.

But then... that decision was also cemented by my own less-than-happy experience.

If you go to my school today and ask for ‘the girl who fixes relationships’, you’ll get blank stares and shrugs and they’ll mostly say, “I don’t know whom you’re talking about.”

That’s good because I plan to keep it that way.

I don’t ‘fix’ relationships. I’m not a Dear-Abby girl; I’m not a psychiatrist or a couples’ counselor and I sure as hell don’t want to do this for a living.

I’m just an observant girl with a sensitive side who doesn’t like to see my gender to mope in the dark with a box of tissues, saying stuff like her world is ending just because her special guy no longer sees her as his special girl.

My first experience as the middle girl started in secondary school. My best friend, a buddy for over 10 years, had a break-up with her boyfriend of almost a year. I know the guy personally and he knows me and I know the two of them were a ‘sort-of’ couple around school. Holding hands, having private times, that sort of thing.

Then it all stopped.

Yeah, I was shocked and angry with him. I even confronted the guy during one pendidikan jasmani class as balls were being put away (pun intended). He didn’t care, just took things for granted and said that “she’s just not I thought she was anymore”.

Apparently everything he thought she was, (funny, vivacious, active) became boring, corny to him.

I decided then that if his mentality was like that, then I shouldn’t care. But what I do care was that my BF shouldn’t hide herself when I know that she really is funny, vivacious and active.

In retrospect, I guess I shouldn’t have been such a busybody. I was overprotective and pushy at trying to get her back on her feet. I made sure she stopped doing things that reminded her of Him. We hung out at Uptown D’sara. We brought junk food from this BP gas station store during almost every recess and ate them in the dark and empty school hall, not bothering to clean up after ourselves.

Eventually, she did pull herself together and only then I told myself it was safe to leave her alone again. But I guess she wasn’t the same as before, even to all her other friends. In poetry, the light in her eye was gone.

Although just at 17, I never thought she overreacted. Her own single mother was a divorcee still fighting for alimony from a father always looking for money to finance his, ahem, “lifestyle”.

We drifted and then completely lost touch after I moved to Kt. D’sara.

My second experience got from being in between this dating, older couple that was great to me during my first year. They had just completed diploma and we shared co-curriculum classes for two semesters. There were hip and young and not shy with anyone.

And yes, they broke up.

Why they broke up, that’s a private story that theirs only; I didn’t push for details either. They avoided each other and just moved on. But they share the same friends and go to the same classes together. They made it look like it was all mutual separation and it fooled me too.

One semester, I found the girl in my class and the guy in another class on a different day. I don’t share their other friends and they knew that as well.

The girl asked me a few seemingly innocent inquiries. You got IT class, right? What time? Oh, he’s in your IT class? Who else? Do you do project with him this semester? Is he still using his laptop?

I indulged her for a time, partly because I thought she might be missing him and partly because I thought if I tell her these things, she’ll soon get over missing him. I had a lot of patience but it was wearing thin.

I didn’t want to knock her some sense by the same way I did with my ex-BF, mainly because she’s a nice girl even though I don’t know her as well as my ex-BF and I didn’t want to drift off from her friendship, in case I screwed up on the same way my I did with my ex-BF.

Do any of you ever have a class that not only you don’t look forward to see the lecturer but also one of the students? Well that semester, I had two of them. One to observe and the other to rattle answers to.

No, he’s not sharing project duty with me. Yes, he’s still using his laptop and he has a Liverpool group photo as his desktop background picture. He’s okay at class, talks just as much. Yes, he talks to other students and yes, there are other girls and yes, he talks to the girls too.

At those days, I kept telling myself that she needed it. Nowadays, I wondered if I’ve been cursed in a dream when I was sleeping.

After a while, out of curiosity, I called the guy up and asked him nicely about how’s things between he and his ex. He said that they were cool. So I dropped the confession of what I’ve been doing for his ex, about being an observant spy and stuff.

“Well?” I quipped.
“I know you were watching me.”

Crap. Busted.

“And I watched you too”
“You have?”

Crap and shited.

“But I thought you were watching me cos... Cos, I thought, you... you felt something... about me and I thought, well...”


The phone conversation just went downhill from there. Why did I call the guy in the first place? It was a very selfish reason. I wanted to stop being the girl’s secret hidden eye to this guy’s activities when she’s not pretending to be not desperately missing him.

I didn’t know what else to do but I placed myself first.

I told the girl that I spoken with her ex. She got irritated but not yet angry. She asked why and I told her, with much abbreviation, that he might be taking miscues from me if I paid him any more attention.

I don’t know if she got the hint but I do hope so. I avoided the two of them altogether; I didn’t dare approach them. In case she wanted any more favors and in case he... well, I don’t feel the same. I don’t want a guy to love me because he thought I love him, when I don’t.

That’s just way too full of shit.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the story, at least for the guy.

This was just at last year. His ex had already left school with her diploma; he stayed and changed his program for bachelor’s degree. We shared same classes again but we hadn’t seen each other in years and so we’re both just as cool as two former classmates from a bygone era.

He’s changed methinks. More outward, more flamboyant.

Freer, if I have to be drama about it.

Then it came again.

I got a call from him early one morning. Talk about waking up on the wrong side of the bed. I remember I had slept in and was oozy, doozy like gelatinous mush. He sounded in a panic and wanted me to come to this empty parking lot near school (now known as Kelana Mall).

My first thought was that he was making a joke; my second thought was that he had hired Ah Longs to kidnap me for money.

But I came to that parking lot anyway (I needed to use the internet at school) and he wasn’t there. I hung around the area for a few minutes before I got impatient enough to give him a call.

It turns out that he was at school and was watching me from, I kid you not, the freaking flattop roof of the school’s building.

It turns out that he had been secretly dating with a girl from God-knows-where and now she wants to get serious. She wants to introduce him to her family and friends. She wants to know his family and friends. She wants to spend public holidays together. She wants to love and commitment and wish-for-the-future, all the stuff not-ready guys too chicken to give.

I said, wtf, what the hell do you want me to do? I don’t consider myself as his ‘friend’ anymore. A classmate, an acquaintance, somebody you pass the lecturer notes to. Times change people, more so if you haven’t kept in touch.

What he wanted was for me to talk with his secret girlfriend. Tell her than he wants more time.


As it turns out, there was this young girl, pretty and bertudung lagi, doing the lepak at the other end of the parking lot. I had never seen her before and I don’t know how to talk to her. Most importantly, I had to assess what the heck am I doing at the moment and what I need to do.

Well, duh, my first reaction was to step out of the business and let the man take care of whatever mess he dropped himself in. But my next thought was totally female-oriented. Was this girl waiting for her man? How long had she waited there? Had she called him? The day was getting hot, why hadn’t she called him?

It was the most nerve-wrecking day I ever had, except the time when my sister was in labour. I was the one who approached her and introduced each other. I told her the truth, mindful of being tactful and offered to belanja her makan at Burger King (hey, I was hungry too).

Of course she was suspicious. Between fries, I told her why the guy had sent me, adding my own thoughts like maybe he was too scared or he needed time away to think or maybe he didn’t have money to buy Burger King.

I also expressed that I was just a stranger who knew him in the past and that he’s going to owe me a big favour. Funnily enough, I thought she was actually really nice and considering. She was patient listening to me, understood what I was saying and for a few moments, blamed herself for pushing him.

God, I hated it when strangers cry in front of me. I don’t know her very well; I have no idea how to comfort her. I don’t know what to say, what truthful words I can say, to make her feel better. I can’t simply pat her on the back and say ‘you’re young’, ‘everything’s going to fine’ and ‘he’s evil jack-ass’ (even thought I really wanted to say the latter).

What I can give her was a measure of pride.

I walked her back to her car. We made polite conversation, tossed quips and sallies, not the friendly joking kind, just funny tales as two strangers in a chatroom might, like Sadam Hussein’s hanging and other people we might want to hang. I made a point not to touch ‘The Guy’ subject.

I never saw her again, even though I still do have her phone number. I’m not going to guess if it was a break-up or not. I’m only speculating so don’t take my word for it. Through his other friends, I do know that he’s taking up practical training now.

And ‘The Guy’ never paid me for the Burger King meal either.

And there you go, confessions of a serial middle girl of relationships on wobbly ground. Banyak drama-kan? Why do I get in these situations I don’t know, maybe I offended Cupid or something somewhere. But they’re life stories and with real people with mending heartbreaks.

Maybe because I’m a paradox. I’m a romantic. Cynical, yet romantic. I love happily ever after fairy tales (Disney’s Enchanted movie was a fav). Though real life could never imitate fairy tales, the virtues it represents like courage to commitment, being true to the other person, stand-by-your-special-someone and all that junk can be achieved.

It’s not impossible to find true love.

It’s just not as easy as it seem either.

For myself, I don’t think I’m cut out for it. I’ve seen it come and go, mostly the going that’s tough.

At the time of writing, I’m free from all potentially exhausting lovers’ spat, thank you very much. Though I have another friend, a nice girl whose about to graduate sooner than me and having some boyfriend troubles of her own. The guy is much older than her and already working.

If it goes south... I’m willing to step it. I may not a perfect track record, I’m not an expert and yes, I’m not paid to do this.

Still, the human heart is emotionally stronger than most people think and it shouldn’t have to sit and mope in depression while life is still too long and too full to waste.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Photos: Walking in the Rain

For the past 4 days now, it’s been raining all afternoon. There’s an epidemic of coughs and colds amongst students at school this week. Both students and lecturers are sucking down Fishermen’s Friend sweet like its Vidocine in Los Angeles. I’m having an annoying tickle in my throat myself.

Great... just great...

It’s nice actually, to finally be alone in the house. Of course, being young single Malay girl, I’m not allowed to housesit all by myself, no matter how many heavy-duty golf clubs I armed myself. Abang Arsenal comes to spent the night at the downstairs room

He doesn’t usually stay in, bachelor that he is, at times going out to mamak places, more so since it’s the football season on TV and we cancelled Astro sports channel months ago.

I think it’s going to rain again today. *siiiiiigh*

Rains always got me thinking of clean, cool thoughts. It air gets clean and refreshing, yet the sky is dull and overcast. When I was younger, in primary school, I would take an umbrella and just take a long stroll at the playground near my house.

In the rain. Alone.

Of course I got thrashed by my folks for doing a potentially little-girl-alone-in-the-rain-kidnap-her-now stunt but those were the days before the Nurin Alert. I like to walk a lot. I get fidgety if I don’t get out of the house.

Even now. Especially when it rains.

At school. Traffic gets heavy and half the students are rushing through the wet air and wet walks to get in time for classes. Others, like this fella here (who I won’t name, heh) is just waiting out the hours.

I couldn’t afford to stay. It was getting late and I want to go home. Okay, my real excuse is that when I walk in the rain, I rather do it alone. The world is getting so noisy but at that moment, I can hear my own thoughts.

Yes, I was soaked through. Just my luck to be wearing my bright-coloured shirt too (no, I won’t show you how see-through I became). But my glasses were definitely dotted with droplets. It’s times like these I wished I had tissues to wipe it (and an umbrella, to not get wet in the first place).

The journey home. I found myself singing David Usher’s Black Black Heart with the music all in my head...

Black black heart
why would you offer more
Why would you make it easier on me, to satisfy
I'm on fire
I'm rotting to the core
I'm eating all your kings and queens
All your sex and your diamonds

Haha, the garden sudah kena banjir... In some places, it can get right up to my ankles. The good thing about these continuing rains is that I didn’t have to remind myself to water the plants with my folks out gallivanting with their passports.

At least the fishes enjoy the rains. The biggest white-and-red dude on the bottom left is known as YB (Yang Berhormat or Yang Besar; either way, he’s a bully). They got really active, even when I wasn’t feeding them. Must be all that new fresh water.

In my room. My windows are closed. My wind chimes are silent... for now.

Games Review: Mystery Case Files, Madam Fate by Big Fish Games

Hehehehe, I can’t resist hidden objects games, can’t I?

Two reasons pertaining to yet another hidden objects genre game as a blog review is because firstly, I found that they really bring up blog traffic. Thanks to my 3 widgets (Feedjit, Nuffnang and MyBlogLog), the genre’s puzzles are some of the damn-est Help-Me-Google on the search count.

I get a hit on my game reviews at least twice a day. Got to love random strangers. They have a unique IP address for my Statcounter.

Well, let’s get started. Today’s blog entry is the review for the game I’ve cracked called Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate by one of the reigning lords of game developer and distributor, Big Fish Games.

The game, which we shall call MCFMF for short, is the fourth installment for an ever continuing tale of you, the player, solving literary messy cases on behalf of Merry Ol’ England.

From the previous MCF game, you left now-less-haunted-house of Ravenhearst to follow the call of help for Madame Fate’s, er, fate.

Mystery Case Files: Madam Fate

Yeah, sure-sure. Look, I only accept cash or credit card, not super-real-big-win-lottery numbers, okay?.

Madame Fate owns a crooked traveling carnival that looks to be on the brink of collapse but it’s her life, not her business, that’s bothering her to bother you. Her little shiny orb had just revealed that she’s going to die at the stroke of midnight!

Of course.

Well, some people just won’t die without a fight and fight sneakily she shall by using you to approach her suspects. As it turns out, from the mermaid to Fate’s fat son, all her employees are suspects to her foretold imminent death. Each has their own agenda to knock her lights out but it will be the All-Seeing Ball which will tell specifically the man with the smoking gun.

There are lots of fun rides in Fate’s carnival. Play at your own risk.

Your secret identity is safe, but you still have to play janitor.

Just like in every hidden objects game, you need to find various items, from as mundane as birds and bees to as bizarre as fixing up a few spots like turning on a green light or placing a feather in a hat.

That’s what made the MCF games so unique. Unlike other find-and-click-and-click-and-click-and-click-s’more techniques, this game requires you to complete a few non-repetitive tasks in other to get what the crystal ball is looking for.

You can also interrogate the members themselves too, but most as not as easy as this one.

Each carny member have their own agenda against Madame Fate.

Oh, I could have sand in my eyes and still see the ending coming in from a mile away. But MCFMF games wasn’t it! It was not until investigating the last two suspects that I was beginning to think Madame Fate’s fate correctly and thought, “Hey, that’s different.”

Still, it didn’t blow me away. Unlike The Vanishing Files, MCFMF’s storyline have no character development other than just watching TV-like of their midnight activities. However, like all previous MCF games, it all ends with a ‘To be continued...’

Methinks, is the best form for this game. There are some really original puzzles never seen before, or a totally new upgrade from old puzzles. I liked best was the Medicine Man and the Tattooed Man puzzles. They’re all quite challenging and I had to confess nooby-ness and surf for walkthroughs. *hehehe!*

There are also other little bits and pieces in the game that have no function in solving or aiding puzzle completion but they’re quite fun to click and see animated.

It’s not as pretty as the Spirit of Wandering game or the Mystery in London game, but unlike some few others, MCFMF really do hide their stuff instead of just chucking photo cut-outs in colour coordinated sections.

Nothing special actually, only that it’s one of the really hardest games to find the stated objects. Not remarkable but pretty nice. It’s the puzzles gameplay that are much more impressive, thank you.

Music and Sound Effects:
Often overlooked, Big Fish Games made this flaw as usual. I did like some of the special sound effects like that crazy laughter when you click certain characters during the puzzles, but overall, it didn’t affect me as a player and mostly I just turn it off.

See into the All-Seeing Ball... to fine more damn puzzles!

By solving the Ball’s riddles, you get to see the suspect’s final performance.

Duly recommend this game for all hidden object games out there. Just make sure you have a weekend to spare as because this is a timed game and you probably won’t be able to leave your PC or you might miss something! *hahaha!*

I’m definitely looking forward to the next MCF in the series but I think I can wait, no problem.

PS: A complete, step-by-step walkthrough for this game can be found at’s Tips and Tricks..

Downloads for this game can be found at Reflexive Arcade. If you want the cracked version, ask me nicely.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

March’s Magic Image Story: The Sleeping Geyser

Previously: February's Flight (2008)


A traveler and self-professed student of history huddled herself into a ball on the rocky ground, under a bole of an ancient tree. The monsoon rains are relentless and her only protection from the wind, rain and icy coldness was her thick cloak of synthetic materials and the makeshift roof she constructed out of leafy underbrush. With her meager skills in wood magic, she had built a shelter thick enough to keep her partially dry and her cloak will keep her partially warm.

Such survival skills were necessary; Ireulun had been cautious about the possibly risky situations of backpacking through this unknown world.

It didn’t help her mood though. Half of her wished she could go back out into the night, back across the barren rocky lands and to the slaveship. It must have felt confused, to have found a master who wished not to be a master.

The other half wished the slaveship would come fly itself and get her. Her resolve to allow the living flycraft make its own choice, the freedom to make its own choice, was slowly wearing out her patience.

Especially in the dark, stormy night.

Ireulun felt a sudden birth of mirth, possibly as her wits were driven out of her by the cold. She imagined what strange events would occur on such dark stormy nights, and would she be there to witness it.

Hopefully not a hailstorm. Her little bush-house probably would stand little chance. And she wanted to sleep. By sunrise, the weather would be mild enough for her to leave her spot and find a more sufficient shelter. It was only early winter; the series of hurricanes that plagued the isles every winter had not yet appeared. Only very cold storms.

Some perverse mind reader must have heard her thought and teased the storm to bring forth the little drops of ice she so despised.

Ireulun groaned when something that sounded like pebbles hitting on a plastic tent reverberated above her. They were tiny at least, but some were still big enough to pierce through the leaves and batter her through her cloak. Rainwater dripped through the holes made by the hailstones as well, dripping on her back and chased away whatever left of the comfortable warmth she had.

Ireulun groaned even louder, the noise ignored by the howling winds, the splatter of rain and little hailstones on rocks. She curled herself up even tighter and avoided the steadily falling drips from her tree ceiling, knowing all too well that she would not be able to sleep after all.

She hoped she wouldn’t catch a cold.

She kept her mind distracted by remembering the history books she had borrowed from the library of that town she left before and now going back towards it. She thought about what she learned about the winter storms of the islands.

Apparently, it would start small, but as the weeks’ progresses, the series of hurricanes would plague the island chain. That’s when the spirits of water and air would rise and do battle against each other. Hailstones were one of the signs that the air spirits had come.

Just her luck.

A freezing wind crept under her shelter and chilled her bones. Now seemed like a good time for a hot cup of chocolate. She felt she could really use one. Slowly, she rose from her curled position and reached for her large backpack.

In the inky darkness, she found the pocket where she kept several stones that glowed a white light when rubbed. Her hand found their smooth surface; her fingers pushed some of them around, making little knobby sounds as the stones hit against each other.

She found the biggest stone, a large round one covered in a fishnet sachet. Pinching it out of her pack, her fingers felt stiff with the cold, but her eyes rejoiced in the gentle burst of light the glow stone emitted.

It was bright enough for Ireulun to rummage through the rest of her things. She had to work quickly, the glowstones’ light were not substantial.

She took out a thermos cup and a brown ball of dried chocolate powder. She reached out to one of the flowing drips and caught some of the rain in her cup, her hand shivering with the cold.

Once her cup was full, she concentrated on using her magic to heat the water, chanting quietly to aid her concentration for evocation. She could have forgone the hot chocolate and just simply used the spell to heat her own body, but she wasn’t as good as that. She nearly had a heatstroke the first time she tried to heat her own blood.

Besides, she liked hot chocolate.

Slowly, steam rose from the heated water. Ireulun breathed in the rising warmth of air and letting it fill her lungs. Greedily, she drank before it was cool enough to drink so she scaled her tongue. In her jerk, she knocked the hand that held the cup against a protruding tree branch and the drink spilled to the ground.

She cursed, damning only herself. A sad waste of hot chocolate.

The hot chocolate was spilled on the hard, rocky floor of the shelter. It flowed downwards where gravity told it to flow. But Ireulun then noticed something strange. She watched her spilled drink, the flow suddenly started to reverse and then turn into a sharp angle.

She blinked, but there was no deception in her eyes. The tiny brown water trail flowed out of her woody refuge. Ireulun touched gingerly on the earthen floor. There were no protruding angles, no rock pockets, nothing to indicate that the stone had been in the way of the strange flowing chocolate water.

Her spilled drink flowed by itself.

Water was not supposed to do that, flowing against gravity was against nature. Unless magic was at work, all rules of nature applied.

Unless magic was at work...

She peeked out from her shelter and noticed for the first time that all the fallen rain, the tiny rivulets of water shifting and moving snake-like on the ground, was going in the same direction as her spilled drink. All water, even the rolling hailstones, was moving uphill.

Ireulun looked up and saw that the rains were falling naturally, down to earth, flying with the winds. But when it water hit the ground... Something big was at work that night.

Especially in the dark, stormy night.

She was never the one to shy away from strange phenomenon. After securing her cape, cloak and a thick muffler around her face, she left the protective shelter of her brush and tree bole and followed the flowing water.

The open night was still dark and dreary. She could barely see anything; her steps were guided only by the light of her large glowstone she kept close to her body.

The place she was hiking through was a rocky wasteland with rockier mountains on the horizon. The stony path she took was white, filled with shallow moving water and strangely, quite smooth. An old dried up river? Was that even possible, water regularly flowing upstream during the winter storms?

Eventually the rivulets became shallow streams, some soaked into her boots, the winds were as coldly fierce as ever. She kept away from the water, mindful of any possible torrents that might sweep her off her feet. That risky possibility and various others that might strike her gave she her caution.

But they did not stop her resolve.

Ireulun climbed an outcrop of rock to get out of the growing water and noticed the colour in the sky and on the horizon had changed. Shafts of dim light shade the distant mountains and dark red clouds covered the sky, scattered evidence of the night’s storm. Daylight was coming. The winds too had slowed. The rains had been reduced to a placid drizzle.

In what she had learned about the coming winter weather of the islands, dawn and sunset was the mildest time for the storms. She had planned to make most of her hike during those twilight hours.

She held her glowstone high above her head, trying to assess an overall view of her position. By the small light, she saw that the rock she stood on was just after the edge of a large basin of water. It was clear and cool, and eerily calm. A lake?

It was a lake. Large and green, surrounded by rocks and cliffs. It betrayed no indication of its depths; its silent stillness was eerie to look at.

Even if it were just a pool, this would have been a boon for the people of Crosswind Isles, as fresh water was hard to come-by, thought Ireulun. Why had they not taken advantage of this resource? Do they know it exist?

Her hood was still soaking wet. She took it off from her head and squeezed the water out, taking advantage of the quickly growing sunlight to dry her apparel. Drops of the squeezed water fell over the rock she stood on and splashed into the lake.

She watched the ripples on the water as she twisted her hood. The ripples caused by it were small but instead of dispersing, it grew larger and it gets further and further away from her.

More ripples formed and grew, until the lake was swirling and churning by some internal, moving force. Ireulun apprehensively bit her lip. Had she disturbed a sleeping giant? From the very center of the lake, a whirlpool formed.

It grew quickly, moving faster and faster like something had opened a plunger from the bottom of the lake. As the ring of the sun broke through from the thickening storm clouds, tinged blood red by the light, a massive shape began to take form in the heart of the whirlpool.

It took on a winged form, an iridescent bird made of ice and running water shook its white head clear from the whirlpool, scattering shining droplets everywhere. It was beautiful and magnificent to not stare. But Ireulun turned her eyes away as the sunlight fell on its crystalline body; the reflected light was too strong to see directly.

From the corner of her eye, She watched as the bird tested its wings. Every beat shook the waters of the lake even more. A gathering wind, peculiarly warm instead of cold, circled around the lake. The waves splashed noisily on the shore, some were as high as to push up against her ankles. She struggled to maintain standing on her rock.

The bird then took off into the sky like a graceful rocket, but it’s form grew less solid with every height it gained. Less visible. It was as if its feathers dissolved into steam with every flap of its diamond-like wings.

Ireulun watched in awe. The bird flew to the clouds; it’s form turning tiny against the rolling clouds and hot-red sky, before it disappeared. She looked back at the lake, or what’s left of the lake. The lake had reduced in size, greatly. It was much smaller than it was when she found it.

The once enormous lake, fueled by uphill flowing water, had turned into a pool no bigger than a duck-pond.

She climbed down the outcrop of rock and approached the site. The lost of water, what water taken by the flying spirit, had revealed something nestled between the rocks. In the edge of the pool, was a cavern. It was not a gaping mouth of hole on the rocks, but it was not a small crack either. Ireulun estimated that it was at least ten feet high and maybe fifteen feet wide.

And it was black. And dark. More so as it hid in the shadows of the mountains, the rising sunlight did not touch anywhere near the cave.

Ireulun held up her glowstone, still brightly lit, stretching it out in front of her, towards the cave. Trickles of water here and there curtained the cave, making small puddles that stream and snake in trails down to the pool.

She approached it carefully; wary of possibly any new spirits might turn up to surprise her. Her feet touched the edge of the pool.

Ireulun noticed another thing about the cave. Letterings, craved into some of the rocks, outside and around the cave. The alphabet looked familiar. Perhaps she could recognize the words?

Spurned by her curiosity, she approached the patterned rocks. She walked across the water; it slapped ripples around her feet.


What sounded like a breaking glass rang from underneath her. A fissure in the bed of the pond formed between her feet, sucking in the water.

She stopped cold. Inside her, she felt her stomach made an uncomfortable flip.


And with that great sound, the wet ground broke into shattering pieces and Ireulun felt into unearthly darkness.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Images: Artful Architectural Wonders

It’s Saturday again. Unlike the previous weekends, I didn’t prepare in advance for the pictures I was suppose to put up for this weekend mainly because it slipped through my mind.

So I had only a small inkling on what to show. My main idea was to look for surreal pictures, something like one of the angels in my old Angel Images entry a few weekends ago.

Bah! Since I don’t have them, I dove into my piles of old stuff pictures and looked for inspirations in the ones that caught my eye.

Then it hit me; buildings!

Call it the KLIA roominess aftermath. I’ve made some really nice buildings images entries before, like the epic-ly beautiful portals I’ve submitted before. I loved those and they were part of this complex imaginary world I have in my head.

So I present this week are some stunning architectures that were made by various creative artists.

A Wizard School by Unknown Artist

Hahaha, to tell you the truth, I don’t know who made this. It’s one of the pictures I took out in my really old stuff folders. I loved it for its 3D rendering of the really tall white Gothic-themed building and the lighting used here made it even more majestic.

Old London at Moonlight by Raphael Lacoste

This is an artwork from my ever-favourite games-visual artist, Raphael Lacoste. The candyman behind the eye-candy of Prince of Persia and Assassin Creed games, he made this piece to emulate what it might have been in Victorian London times.

I’m on all accounts an English/England/Englishland/Fish-and-Chips fanatic so I really got to put this up here.

Landing Zone by Dmitry Savinoff

I knew the artworks of Savinoff neither through the game he and his friend had designed nor through webring for artists. Rather it was through a Google search for something sci-fi, during a time when I was still overly plagued with pimples that I discovered his fantasy and sci-fi wonders with digital pictures.

This picture of his I have personally colour-printed and hung it on a wall in my room, close to my PC so I’ll be able to see it when I turn my PC on. It’s kind of like a very nice dawn-of-a-new-day thing it got there, don’t you think?

Fallen Beauty by David Edwards

This is also another picture I’ve been thinking of printing it out and getting it hung on my wall. I needed a fourth wheel to get this entry moving so I took an express through’s 5 Stars gallery.

Oh my God, this is really beautiful. The detailing is exquisite, every part of the ruin provokes thoughts, speculation and questions on what it means to the artist. Was it a ballroom? A church? Was it ruined through neglect? An evil plot?

I tried looking from his main site but I found even more beautiful pictures that rouse the imagination. Duly recommend that you visit all these artists, as their works, if I hadn’t had a blog to write about them, would be best described as... artfully wonderful.

From KLIA to Iran; Bye-bye Parents!

Last night, Friday was Fly-day for my parents to take their next great adventure across the Middle-East. Don’t ask me why, but they do this all the time now, since Ayah retired. Maybe because since all the juniors relations and fellow traveling friends are all scattered around the globe, there’s always a trusted fellow to call on their Celcom line.

From the Matta fair to KL International Airport, they hadn’t stopped talking about it... and reminding me of all the stuff that needs to be checked while they’re gone. Stuff like:
1. Feed the fishes.
2. Feed the cats.
3. Take out any dead fish floating.
4. Clean up after the cats if they pee in the house (males!)
5. Make sure the Proton, MyVi and Kenari have petrol.
6. Don’t let big brother Arsenal drive either one of those cars.
7. Water the plants.
8. Send lil bro Genius back to UniMalaya on Sunday afternoon.
9. Go to the Uptown D’Kota free-food party this Sunday to show face to the neighbours and explain where did Mak and Ayah went.

Those sort of things.

So in two cars loaded with luggage, we head off to KLIA that evening for the 11.30pm flight. Of course, this freaking family go on a road trip further than Mutiara Damansara, there’s always all kinds of bumps.

“Where’s the car key?”
“This one? Or this one?”
“Which car does this trolley bag go?”
“Figure it out yourself-lah!”
“Liza, can you ask the maid to make milk for Nabil?”
“Passport! Passport!”
“It’s with me (insert mother’s name), cepat-cepat pakai tudung.”
“Oh... now where’s my tudung?”
“Which car does this bag GO?”
(insert MySis name), did you call Abang Huzir that you won’t be home tonight?”
“Alamak-, my cellphone tada bateri-ler...”
“Ami nak susu! Ami nak suuuusuuu...!”
“Nabil, get up from the floor. Now.”
“Ami nak McDonald’s?”
“No McDonald! Susu aje.”
“Which CAR does this BAG, GOOOO!?”

In the end, we left at 8.45pm, almost half-an-hour later than scheduled.

The road trip was not done in the break-neck speed Ayah would have preferred. Firstly, the second car was running out of petrol (Mak had to stop at Shell gas station), and then it was raining heavily on the highway.

I was in the same car with BabyNabil and he susddenly developed the fits, crying to his Bibik-Yam (the maid) and didn’t stop until we reached the airport. I betcha my dad was a weeeee close to strangling his only grandson.

Aaaah, the international airport. 10 years later and it still runs like slow clockwork.

There’s a lot of people at the viewing area that night, mostly families looking down at their grown kids; some blazer-wearing students getting ready for the flight overseas.

Actually, we couldn’t have bothered. It turned out that their flight, Iran Air, had been delayed by about an hour and a half, no idea why. A full hour and a half or almost totally nothing to do.

Oh what da hell, this is an airport!

Since Nabil was so fidgety to the point that not even Mak’s delicious tandoori chicken meal we all had earlier could help him.

But as babies need to be fed, we ended up buying McDonald’s Chicken Rice Porriage.

Fidgety in the car, hyperactive in McDonald’s.

The bubur-ayam was very hot, so MySis dump a small amount into a paper cup before BabyNabil scoops them with his spoon.

I guess in the end, he got his McDonald’s after all. *sheeeeeesh...*
And it was a good thing we stuck around for a bit. It turns out that Mak forgot something really important and left it back home in Kt. D’sara.


It was the keys to their luggage. Tips on traveling say that we should lock our luggage and so my parents got the heavy duty ones with a key since they can never remember lock combinations.

Ayah, already armed with Iranian currency, flight tickets and passports, handed the luggage responsibility to Mak. And Mak went Ooops! So it was a very good thing the flight got delayed after all. We called big brother Arsenal up quickly and he was free to drive all the way to KLIA with the forgotten keys.

I’m trying to imagine if they flew to Iran and only then just realized they don’t have the keys to their luggage. Maybe they can ask the hotel staff for help?

“Pardon, this is Room-So-and-so. Can you please bring up a crowbar and maybe some shears?”

We hung around the viewing hall while waiting for Abang Arsenal by watching the big planes park in and airport workers drive their golf-carts around. These glass walls are now smothered in a two-year-old’s chicken rice porriage breath and sticky prints.

I took a moment to take my own picture for the blog. I like these kind of dual-view obscure photography that reflects scenes.

Bye Mak! Bye Ayah! See you guys in two weeks. Just remember that I want cheese and chocolates for souvenirs.

We exchange salam and pray for a safe journey.

To Me, From Mak, With Tandoori Chickens

Some of you asked what’s my mother’s inspiration for being quite the chef in the kitchen. I would say the AFC Food Channel on Astro TV but she’s been stuffing the family faces long before cable TV became the vogue.

I supposed it had to do with being the eldest daughter of 9 siblings and miscellaneous relations and friendly neighbours. The entire community knew the Jailani family very well. Anybody had a problem, refer to the freakishly huge noisy family. Country-mice aren’t like town-mice after all.

I can see why my dad, being a very quiet and private person, had to gather some 5 years of courage after meeting Mak before he could formally ask Yayi for her hand.

But I’m wandering here. Mak likes to cook because she grew up pretty much next to the kitchen stove. There’s always mouths to feed and even today, I got uncles and aunties coming in for no reason every other week or so.

But this time, my folks are taking on a long trip, more than 2 weeks. They’re going to fly to Iran to ski on mountain snow and see the springtime flowers. Then they’re crossing the border to Turkey to shop and eat and shop s’more and eat s’more.

So they’ll be nobody to feed me.

Hey, I’m cool actually. I can live on mamak food. I was planning to buy a nice tandoori chicken with naan bread from this restaurant called Fazila Maju. I told that to Mak and was budgeting my finances (secretly, I still want to buy a paperback novel!).

Soooo, as usual before she flies to a land far, far, jet-plane-trip away, she made a feast big enough so I can make myself some sandwiches for the next day. Tandoori chickens.

Red hot from the oven!

Did Mak roast a whole bird? Yup, she did.

Her excuse was that tandoori chickens are much, much healthier than me making pies (can’t argue with that). Mak’s first tandoori chicken cooking was a melting failure and so I guess she’s trying to improve where she did wrong.

I’d say this one was great! It’s not as dry and flaky as the mamak tandoori chickens; quite juicy on the inside and meaty-chewy on the outside. She used a better tandoori mix too, great colour, spicy but not overly tongue-burning hot.

You should have seen the cooking pan under the metal bar-trays thingy used to cook the chicken on it. All the bird fat dripped on it was black and brown to a crisp. I should have taken a photo but it was ugly and I was too distracted by the chicken itself (I’ll have to scrap it clean later too, urg...)..

Yummy setting.

Mm-mmm, better than KFC...

Ayah went out to buy freshly baked naan bread from the mamak. Hehe, I guess I’ll know what Mak will be trying to make next!

Too bad we don’t have instant spicy mint sauce mix so the meal would have been perfect. MySis came for dinner too, since she and I were going to send Mak and Ayah to KL International Airport after evening prayers. And she came early after work too, since she heard that Mak was making tandooris.

So there you have it. Mak may not cook for an extensive family anymore; instead she emulated new food and styles of cooking. MySis inherited her baking skills (once she finds a really good oven for her small kitchen, she’ll be making chocolate-smothered brownies and fruity pavlovas again) and I guess I’ll more into casseroles and meat dishes.

Note2self: Must learn to cook this and get it right before next family reunion/meeting open house at Batu Arang. I now got married cousins to impress.

Oh yeeeeeeaaahh! Did I mention that she also made some home-brewed pineapple juice? Of course, she’s anak Pontian...

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