For love and honour
“They were both led, blindfolded, to a deep slot canyon in the Rakta’M Wastelands behind the camp. There they found themselves on the Yavak’Hala, the “Threshing Floor”, accessed only by the narrowest of passages. It was cool, deep and dark place, lit only by the few brief hours of the midday suns, and the floor was covered in fine wind-driven dust and grit.
This was a place of conflict; water disputes, clan skirmishes, and affairs of clan honour were settled here, but Braedan and Malena found themselves on opposing sides in the Yavak’Hala for the b’Hram S’yuddha, the “fight of Heart’s Burning”. Malena was Sadusi-bred and the tribal tradition was clear on this matter. Should any male seek a Sadusi female’s affection and love he would have to fight her and defeat her in combat for her heart. In the art of fighting and hand-to-hand combat the Sadusi females were on equal footing with the males of the breed, and the knife skills of Ashra Malena were the object of many a fireside tale. In these fights no quarter was given, nor offered, not until one or the other combatant was defeated or seriously injured or a shaman intervened. Death came often, but even so the tribe was always strengthened as weaker males or females were often eliminated by more worthy opponents. It was the way of the desert, it was the Sadusi way.
Stripped of their moisture suit tops, they faced each other under the watchful eye of the shaman council sitting passively in the shadows. Braedan shifted his standard military issue dirk nervously in his hand, sizing up the situation. His heart was torn because he knew that he could never withdraw his claim. That could only be rewarded with a death sentence of banishment to the desert without water or a moisture suit. He feared of what would happen once his hardened soldier’s instinct cut in.
Malena too was deeply distressed. She was the Sadusi leader, committed to protect the tribe at all costs, Her skill with the leaf-bladed desert knife was supreme and many a foe had perished by her blade. She didn’t want Braedan to be one of her trophies, yet she could not hold back lest she lose face and her tribal honour. Yet her love for Braedan had brought her to this watershed…
Their slow circling stirred up fine clouds of dust which swirled around in the shaft of light that speared down from the noon high above. Thus began their agonizing fight for love and honour…”
Technical aspects: This picture explores on of the more bizarre aspects of the lifestyle of the Sadusi of Wesdraken, the knife fight/courting ritual.
I relied heavily on the experience and help of Tony Reese (aka Ironfixer) in posing the two figures in a realistic fight scenario. My thanks to him for his help, as well as my good friend and fellow Brycer, Gary Vennie.
The figures were posed in Poser 4 and exported to Bryce 4. Custom texture and bump maps were created for the special clothing needs of Malena and Braedan. The slot canyon rock formations and textures were heavily researched for 6 months before committing them to custom terrains and some help from Susan Kitchen’s “Real World Bryce 4” book on the textures – all in Bryce 4.
The lighting was provided primarily by a single volumetric cylindrical parallel light, and was not working until I discovered purely by chance a trick by Jonathan Allen in his “Atmospheric Effects using Volume Lights and Gels” tutorial.
Post-production was done with Corel PhotoPaint 10, and was used to repair and correct the joint tearing on both figures and some layering and masking used to enhance the kicked up dust around the feet, as well as a bit of “specular bloom” to add to the atmosphere.