Tag Archives: Art: Cast Portraits

ART: Big Brother

Freydolf & Ulrica. At the beginning of Deuce, we learn that Ulrica is twelve when she makes her bid at an early rite in Open Territory. In Ch17, which just posted for tiers that get the early drop, we find that Frey is fifteen, though he already has a man’s height. Despite the three-year age gap and the vast differences in their personalities, brother and sister are quite close. Full illustration is under the cut!

Continue reading ART: Big Brother

ART: Carpet Balls

Carpet Balls | art by FoxOfTwilight

Pleased beyond telling, Tupper hurried toward a set he’d first noticed when dusting that morning. A dozen stones had been shaped into perfect spheres, much larger than the marbles that the village boys used in their games. Touching the white one, the pink one, and the brown one by turn, he picked up the green one, marveling at how heavy it was. He would need to carry them one at a time!

While he ferried the matched spheres over to where Freydolf sat, the man began a sing-song rhyme. “Blue for sweet waters; white for the brine. Gray under moonlight; gold calls for wine.”

Tupper stared perplexedly at the rich golden hue of the orb in his hands. Rocks couldn’t be thirsty. Could they?

Freydolf chuckled and said, “Don’t mind me, lambkin. Gather the rest.”

He happily complied, and when he joined his master on the carpet, Tupper arrayed the spheres before him, fiddling with the order until he was satisfied. Smooth as glass, cool to the touch, and uncommonly pretty—he silently greeted each in turn by its color name.

The second to last one stumped him, and he looked at Freydolf. “This one?”

“Hmm?” he responded, glancing from boy to ball and back.

“What do I call her?”

“Her?” Freydolf echoed, the hint of a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.

Nodding, Tupper backtracked, pointing to the earlier stones in his lineup. “Blue, gray, green, and … this?” he prompted, again pointing to the sphere in question. It wasn’t only one color, or even two; several shades of brown and a warm pink were daubed together, then sprinkled with black speckles.

“Aye, I understand,” the sculptor replied seriously. “Dapple. We call her kind dapple.”

excerpted from MEADOWSWEET
Galleries of Stone, #1

ART: Ulrica Rakefang

Deuce is a prequel to Galleries of Stone. It tells the story of how a dockside boy & a hilltop girl managed to meet, despite all the reasons they never should have.

“Ulrica Unpierced” | art by FoxOfTwilight

The ongoing serial is a Patreon exclusive. If you’re willing and able to support me there, a basic subscription (any of the $5/month tiers) will give you access to story updates.

CJ on Patreon >>


Unlocked! In celebration of the audio release of Harrow, the first chapter of Deuce has unlocked for all of my patrons. This is a Galleries of Stone prequel that spins out the convoluted (and often comedic) tale of how Aurelius and Ulrica met. Because they never should have. He’s so dockside. She’s so uphill. And yet …!

In addition to exclusive story updates, patrons will enjoy story art, regular mailings, and (coming in October) narrated chapters, courtesy of Travis Baldree. Do take a look!

“Aurelius Unpierced” | art by FoxOfTwilight

CJMilbrandt on Patreon >>


Pit, Fall

Summer leaves brushed bronze skin as Aurelius’s scuffed boots left the ground. Lean arms flexed. Claws bit bark. Curling in on himself, he swung onto an overhanging bough. After an entire winter’s voyage spent clambering through the rigging on his uncle’s ship, a tree was nothing.

He made it to the fourth limb without disturbing so much as a sparkfly. Gratifying, but not as satisfying as an audience. Not that his regular hunting partners were given to gushing. Quite the opposite. No matter how dazzling his performance, Aurelius’s only reward was a grudging lack of criticism. Impatient uncles. Bitter cousins. Backstabbing brothers. But their silence was easily as fine as the jeweled droplets he’d wear as soon as this rite was passed and he was pierced.

Aurelius had turned thirteen at the midwinter festival, half a lifetime ago. Father refused to put off a voyage to Far Continent for the sake of his youngest son’s pride. How Aurelius’s dignity had suffered in the interim! Making him wait until the summer hunt was pure meanness. But Aurelius would show them all. None of his brothers had done better than a brace of rabbits during their hunts.

Respectable, but entirely too typical. I can do better, so I will.

In order to fetch better prey, Aurelius was bending the rules by hunting out of bounds. Like Aunt Lissie says, the best acquisitions are rarely found on beaten paths.

… for the rest of this chapter (and to subscribe to twice-monthly installments of Deuce), become a patron. There are perks at every tier. CJMilbrandt on Patreon >>

BYWAYS: Galena


Little Details
■ Galena is expecting a baby. If she and her husband can stay ahead of the Chasers until their child is born, they’ll become free citizens of Liberty.
■ She was brought as a child from Arundel, an empire far to the south. Memories of her former home sometimes make her sad.
■ Her personal seal is an oyster with a pearl, hinting at the precious life she’s carrying.
■ Galena’s marriage to Hurlock was arranged by their owner.

BYWAYS: Vanek Johns

Vanek Johns

As soon as the boys were gone, Ian turned to his uncle. “What just happened?”

Vanek chuckled. “Did you really think cramming those boys into a carriage would fix things?”

“But to send them out alone? Laurel won’t like it.” Ian fiddled with the buttons on his cuff. “I don’t like it.”

—excerpted from Byways, Book 1: On Your Marks

Ian’s overly optimistic plan was doomed from the start, but thanks to wise Uncle Vanek, the brothers will each have a chance to prove themselves. This big bear of a man is the Postmaster’s business partner, his trusted friend, and his uncle. Vanek Johns is the person who helped Ian establish the postal system that serves Liberty’s people. He has a booming voice and a deep laugh. The father of six grown children, he’s wise when it comes to helping young ones grow up.