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Aleph-Null: The Awakening of The Celestial Heart

by Thomas James Donoghue 3 months ago in Fantasy
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Volume 1: The Weeping Woman & The Wild One. Act 1, Part 2&3- Outline

Aleph-Null: The Awakening of The Celestial Heart
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Act 1 - Part 2

Chapter 1

We meet The Wild One, Liya Abara. She is a young woman of about 16 years, another individual deeply connected to The Ether.

This is a terrible day, when her powers make their first full manifestation. The same day in fact as the passing of The Weeping Woman's husband, just as sad and violent, filled with sorrow and grief.

We find Liya as she tests her balance and agility by walking along a narrow wall through the hills that make her village's levels and plateaus. Here she lives with her mother and father on the valley's western edge.

Liya's mother, Jacinta, is a plain but beautiful woman, fair-skinned with dark hair and a dancer's form that she has passed to her daughter. She was born in Aegisglade, the city just a few dozen miles to the valley's west, and lived there until she met Liya's father, Al'yan. At the time, he was a travelling merchant and artisan from a nation many months' journey far to the south, coming to peddle his wares in Aegisglade. She was mystified by his glassworks and enchanted by the spices and herbs he brought with him, finally overwhelmed by his swarthy charm and exotic intrigue. The two fell in love and settled in the village in the valley's hills to start their family, bearing their daughter, a rare beauty with skin like melted sugar and a body meant to move and express the joy of motion.

At first, the couple turned heads in their small town. Few outsides of the more densely populated areas had met individuals from other cultures and parts of the world, but in time they heard less and less of the cruel words meant to deride those who are different.

As Liya was growing up, she faced the teasing and jeering of the other children, as they were wanton to do, making remarks about her hair and skin and her exuberant nature. Still, she kept her chin held high, her parents reassuring her that she was their most precious gift and that one day everyone would recognize the beauty within her.

In her adolescence, peculiar things began to happen around Liya, nothing terribly out of the ordinary, but the girl seemed to have curious luck. When she would have fits of strong emotion, things around her would break or be knocked over. Nothing that anyone could prove was her doing, but rumours have a way of spreading.

On the day we meet her, she performs acrobatics on the thin stone and mortar of the wall a dozen feet above the ground. She twists, flips, and dances until she loses one of her sandals while attempting a particularly energetic flourish, watching it fall into the dust of the road below.

As it lands, she sees two boys watching her, staring, leering, drooling over the glimpses that they catch up her skirt and down her blouse as she dances lighter than air, moving effortlessly to the music that plays in her own mind.

She calls them to toss her sandal back, but the boys begin to tease her, throwing it back and forth between each other, telling her that if she wants it, she will need to come and claim it.

Liya becomes annoyed and starts down from the wall, setting the boys off running, mocking her as they go, making not too brisk a pace that she can not follow, but keeping just enough distance to continue the chase.

She follows them to the far edge of the village, around the back of a storehouse seldom used in the warm months, where the town usually keeps their surplus crops from the harvest to stockpile for winter. A secluded spot out of earshot from the rest of the village.

As Liya rounds the corner of the building, the boys trip her, knocking her down into the dirt. She looks at them as she curses their rudeness and stops mid-insult, cut off by what she sees. Rolf, the older of the two brothers, has drawn a knife, and Fritz, the younger by just a year, throws her sandal into the dirt at her feet.

The boys tell her, "Look how dirty you are. That dress is almost as dark as your muddy skin. Better take it off before it gets any more ruined."

Liya's eyes widen as the boys approach. She is stricken with terror. She goes to scream, but suddenly her mind goes blank, and she fades into darkness.


Liya's power and connection to The Source of All Things takes over her mind and body to protect her. Her higher self reaches down through the immaterial to save her from this mortal peril.

As the two boys assault her, grabbing at her and running their hands all over her body, Liya's Ether flickers into an inferno. It builds up until her eyes flash with white-gold light, and she screams out NO, releasing the energy in a blast of Etheric plasma that annihilates them both, dashing their bodies in pieces across the area.

The true power of her higher self senses the darkness inside them, a force that has seeped into their minds and turned these boys into vile cretins, slaves to their base impulses. Her power can feel their lust to be inside of her, to tear into her, and in turn, her strength reaches itself into them, to tear them asunder. Exacting justice against the darkness before it has a chance to maim her.


Light creeps back in from the edges of her perception. In what seems like an instant, she returns to herself.

She feels herself breathing heavily, and as she opens her eyes, she bears witness to a scene of total carnage.

The boys looming over her were nowhere to be seen at first.

The back of the storehouse and the thicket behind it are covered in blood and viscera, torn flesh and clothes litter the ground and plaster the wooden wall, while pieces of scalp and skin hang from the branches overhead.

Liya realizes that something terrible has happened. Was it her doing? How could she be in the middle of such a massacre and be totally unaware?

She looks down at her own body and sees that she too is painted crimson, every inch coated in blood and gore, her dress has been ripped to shreds, and she feels a stinging on the side of her head.

She reaches up to feel it and finds it raw. As she looks to her side, she sees the hand of one of the boys, independent of any other part of him, clutching a fistful of her hair.

Her stomach turns over on itself, and she vomits into the dirt, sobbing uncontrollably.

She stands and scrambles into the storehouse, wrenching on the hand pump for the small well inside to produce water to wash the gore away. She strips off her bloody clothes and pours bucketful after bucketful of icy water over her head, forming a murky red pool at her feet. She scrubs with a scrap of burlap, leaving her skin raw and scratched, no less reddened.

She forces down several deep breaths, still frantic but now able to stop her mind from racing. She digs through a stack of boxes for anything to wear and finds an outfitter's case filled with everything she needs. She puts on the pants and tunic she finds and laces a gambeson over her chest. She feels so cold. Then slips on a pair of boots before throwing a cloak and hood around her back.

As she runs out of the storehouse, she spots a bow and quiver lying against a wall with a staff beside it. She picks them up and makes her way into the woods. She has never felt the need to carry a weapon before, but after this moment, with this fear and uncertainty roiling inside her, she knows that she must protect herself and keep the world at a distance.

She runs through the woods, trying desperately to remember what had happened, but it is blocked. She is unsure of who she is anymore. Nothing feels right. She feels as if she had died with those boys.

She can not face her family, not yet.

She can not face the village. What would they say? Was she a monster? How was such carnage even possible?

Liya exiles herself, running until she collapses deep in the forest, sobbing until sleep takes her under the full moon's light.

Chapter 2

As night falls on the village in the hills, Petyr, the father of the two boys reduced to little more than a smear on the earth, searches for his sons with his brothers, Jhorn and Mykal.

They carry lanterns and lead their dogs through the village to try and find any scent or trail.

They have searched the village high and low. It is unlike the boys to miss a meal, and as the night deepens, they begin to worry more and more.

The hounds catch the scent of blood in the air as they near the storehouse, and they set to barking frantically.

The men round the corner, where the boys tripped The Wild One and come upon the slaughter.

They are shocked, disgusted, distraught, barely able to make sense of what they see until Petyr finds his son's hand, still wearing their family's signet ring, clutching a clump of dark red curly hair.

At this moment, the realization that his line has ended fills him with rage. He roars out into the night and utters every curse he has ever heard.

He wraps his eldest son's hand in a handkerchief and returns to the village to interrogate Liya's parents. He knows it is her hair he holds. She must know something about what happened.

Petyr's brothers gather what they can of the boy's remains to give them a burial. They are only able to fill a small box from the storehouse. what remains of the boy's mortal form is painted too thinly across the area to collect.

The brothers return to the village with what remains of the boys as Petyr beats Liya's father, Al'Yan, in the square. He had been out looking for his daughter when the two crossed paths. Al'Yan asked Petyr if he has seen or heard anything, to which Petyr produces the severed hand with Liya's hair tangled amongst the fingers.

Al'Yan calls out the name of his god in his mother tongue, infuriating Petyr, a pious man under the Church of The Holy Father, causing him to lash out and strike Al'Yan.

The two scuffle in the square with Petyr, having at least fifty pounds on Al'Yan, beating him to a pulp while shouting out a hateful and racist tirade.

Peter has no interest in the truth of the matter. He is consumed by anger and a lust for revenge.

His brothers stop him short of beating Al'Yan to death right there in the square, saying they found Liya's bloody clothes in the storehouse. She must still be out there somewhere.

Petyr leaves Al'Yan bleeding in the dirt as Jacinta tends to him.

Peter hands the box of his sons' remains to his wife and calls his brothers to saddle their horses.

The three men return to the storehouse and search by lanternlight for a trail until a faint set of footprints appear heading into the woods.

They begin their hunt.

Act 1 - Part 3

Chapter 1

We meet The Huntsman, Devlyn Sylvain, during one of his greatest triumphs.

He is a strong and kind gentleman, at one with nature, giving it the reverence and respect it deserves.

We find him riding his horse, pulling a cart full of his provisions and the boon from his latest hunting expedition in the north: skins, horns, antlers, tusks, bones, and carcasses, broken down and into wrapped slabs of cut and salt-cured meat.

His faithful dog Roofus trots along beside them, a mixed breed that Devlyn found abandoned as a pup a few years ago in what remained of a village razed by bandits. He has grown to be quite large and robust, and Devlyn has made him a collar of leather and short spikes to protect his throat and give him an even more menacing appearance. Roofus's demeanour is very gentle and friendly, never snarling or barking at the people they pass and always wagging his short tail excitedly when he meets new friends.

The two are inseparable. Roofus is loyal and obedient, well-trained and intelligent, and a great friend and companion for a man who spends so much time alone in the woods. Roofus also loves Devlin's horse Winfrey and protects her when Devlyn must leave her behind to trek through more challenging terrain on foot.

He nears the northern gate of Aegisglade and finds the helmet outside the walls to be bustling with many more people than the previous years, a field just outside the small town now filled with tents in rows as people mill about tending to cook fires.

Devlyn pulls into the market, spotting his friend Rory at his large stall among the vendors.

Rory is the man Devlyn always does his business with. He sells him skins and antlers, bones and furs, all of which Rory uses to create many fine crafts and pieces of art. Devlyn also sells the meat from the animals, which his wife cooks into delicious meals for the hamlet people from her stall next door.

The two men shake hands heartily and chat for a moment, catching up since their last meeting earlier in the summer.

Rory remarks on what a fine collection he has brought him, and the two haggle over a mutually acceptable price for the goods in Devlyns cart.

Devlyn asks about the large encampment in the field nearby and all the extra people in the area as they offload the items.

Rory replies with a story that Devlyn can hardly believe.

As it goes, some form of monster has run all of these fine people from their homes in a village back up north, further north than Devlyn usually treads. It was unlike anything anyone had seen before. A terrible beast had taken over the town. The people had their own descriptions, some not from seeing the Creature but from hearing others' stories and filling in with their fantasies. The most common aspects were that it was enormous and had armour like a crab, with many limbs, tentacles, and claws. Indeed something out of a nightmare. This monstrosity had come tearing through the town and killed its few permanent guardsmen. The other men tried to stop the Creature, but several were injured, and the Alderman evacuated the town to the safety of Aegisglade.

Devlyn gives his friend a strange look, he had never heard of such a thing, and he spends most of his life in the wilderness. He had thought he had seen everything this landscape had to offer.

Rory laughs off his friend's puzzled expression and tells him to go speak to the Alderman if he needs convincing of the story's validity. He also tells him that there is a bounty on offer for the Creature's destruction.

When Devlyn hears the sum of the bounty, he is even more sure that this tale is a fabrication. Five thousand pieces of silver for one Creature? That would be more than a year's hunt with several trophy-level antler racks and rare skins on top of many full carts of meat and furs.

Devlyn is curious and intrigued by the proposition of such a substantial payday but will need convincing before he makes such a detour into the north.

After the two finish unloading the cart, Rory hands Devlyn a sack of coins and points out the Alderman in the crowd, saying that if he likes the weight of this bag, he will really love the one that the Adlerman is offering.

Devlyn is still skeptical, imagining that this story has been overblown by the gossip of the helmet, but he seeks out the Alderman nonetheless. Such a bounty could set him up for years.

Devlyn finds the Alderman at the well on the edge of the community, between the hamlet and the encampment, helping his people fetch water.

Devlyn asks of the rumour, and they step away from the crowd. Many amongst them flashed fear across their faces at the mention of the Creature. Devlyn thinks there may actually be something to the story after all.

The Alderman explains the situation to Devlyn, offering several details missed by the rumour mongers and gossips, likely only known by the Alderman and his most trusted fellows.

A young man had been scorned by a woman he admired and publicly humiliated after his display fell flat. He fled into the woods, in the direction of a cursed cavern that the village's elders had always forbidden the people to enter.

The Alderman says that a few days after the young man left the village, this Creature appeared the morning after the last full moon, a horrible hulking beast of chitin and muscle, flailing tentacles and talons with a gaping maw capable of swallowing a man whole.

The Alderman's eyes widen as he describes the beast. He clearly remembers a visceral encounter, pulling his words from those fearful sights.

Devlyn is now sure that the story is indeed factual.

The Alderman continues the story. The Creature tore into the village, knocking down the house of the young woman and her lover, killing them both as the young man laughed maniacally, walking up behind the Creature and boasting about his power and how he would make them all suffer for the slight against him.

As the young man goes to direct the Creature to a new target, screaming orders at the beast, it rears up and flails back, cutting him in half with one of its talon-covered tentacles. The beast begins to buck wildly and runs around the village, aimlessly knocking into the buildings and tossing the citizens into the air.

The village guards try to fight the Creature, but their spears scrape across its armour plates to no effect, and they are crushed under its claws and then consumed by its jaws.

The Alderman says that he set the church bells to ring frantically to warn the people of this danger. The ringing seemed to stun the beast and gave the villagers a chance to flee, carrying only the essentials and leaving much behind.

As he saw the people making their way out of the village, he left the belltower and joined them, seeing the beast lumber into the woods near the village while they fled.

The people are now too afraid to return because the men he sends to check on the village still report that the Creature roams the area.

The Alderman tells Devlyn, looking him up and down, that he seems to be a man of skill and that if anyone has a chance of destroying the Creature, it would be him.

He warns him to proceed with caution. As the Alderman noticed with the bells, the beast is very sensitive to sound. Still, it can also hear the slightest footsteps from great distances, one of the men the Alderman sent to check the village said that the beast was upon him within moments of his arrival into the village and that he was only able to flee by sheer luck and the strength of his horse.

The Alderman also tells him that the bounty, put together by the people of the village and supplemented immensely by The Magistrate, is over five thousand pieces of silver, collectable from the court in the middle of Aegisglade.

Devlyn is flabbergasted by the sum. His friend was right. This would be enough coin to last him years in comfort.

Devlyn shakes the Alderman's hand and says that he and his people will soon be sleeping in their own beds.

The Alderman raps Devlyn's shoulder and wishes him all the luck in the world, offering the protection and grace of their hallowed ancestors.

Devlyn spends the night with his friend Rory and his wife before setting off to the north in the morning with a fresh complement of arrows and hunting spears. He has spent his silver from the previous day on caustic coatings for his weapons, and a few explosives. He will need significant weaponry and firepower to slay this Creature.

Chapter 2

Devlyn rides with his faithful dog in tow. Roofus jumps in and out of the cart as the day goes on when he wishes to rest his paws. Their pace is brisk, but the journey is far.

As Devlyn approaches the village the following day he unhitches his cart and lets his horse wander in the fields to the south of the village to graze and rest. He cuts a few leafy branches to camouflage his cart just off the road behind some trees before oiling the blades and tips of his weapons. He moves quietly to investigate the town with Roofus at his heels. He carries his quiver, bow, a few spears across his back, and a pouch of powder bombs on his hip.

As he approaches the townsite, he can see the destruction caused by the beast, buildings toppled and scarred with deep gouges into the wood and stone.

Roofus begins to whine, smelling something strange in the air.

Devlyn hears a loud rustling in the trees just behind the buildings across the square, and Roofus barks. The Creature lets out an otherworldly shriek and lumbers into the courtyard.

Devlyn is horrified by the Creature, like something from a fevered nightmare. This Creature defies logic, an unholy amalgamation of several beasts that would never meet.

He makes a few hand signs to his dog and sends him away with a click of his tongue.

Roofus darts away, heading back toward Winfrey, letting out another bark when he is well away. The Creature turns in the direction of the noise, and Devlyn can sneak past it and get to the chapel.

He plans to use the bells to stun the monster just as the Alderman had described.

He sets the tower to ringing chaotically and hears the same shriek of pain from the beast.

As he moves to set up his attack, he sees that the beast is not stunned this time. In fact, it is enraged and tramples through the village to the source of the cacophony.

He dashes around one of the buildings, avoiding the charge while watching as the beast's chitin armour crumbles the chapel and knocks down the bell tower.

As the bells fall, they shatter, letting out a sound so loud and piercing that even Devlyn needs to shake his head to stop the ringing in his ears.

The beast flails wildly in agony, and Devlyn takes his opportunity. As the beast rears, showing its soft underbelly, he lets fly arrow after arrow coated in corrosive liquid that bubbles the Creature's skin as they pierce its flesh.

The Creature doubles over in pain, using its tentacles to pull the arrows from its flesh before setting itself to charge again in Devlyn's direction.

Devlin's eyes widen, and he scrambles to get out of the way before the beast leaps into the air and lands on the building he was taking cover by, reducing it to rubble.

As he rolls away and sets himself in a low crotch, he grabs one of the bombs from his pouch and pulls the safety cord, mixing the powder with its chemical reactant before hurling it at the Creature.

The blast lands on the side of the beast's jaws, cracking the chitin plates around it and bringing the monster to shriek again.

It claws at its wound, and Devlyn throws one of his spears, piercing it in the notch under its arm, burying the blade into the Creature's chest.

The beast knocks the spear's shaft away into splinters and moves to attack Devlyn again.

As Devlyn takes his first steps to scramble away to a new cover, a tentacle wraps around his ankle and pulls him to the ground.

The Creature's jaws dig into the ground in front of him as he turns to face it, and he is caught as it shovels him up with its tusk-like teeth and catapults him into the air.

Devlyn loses most of his arrows as he flips and twists in the air. He holds on to one of his spears and bombs as he ragdolls over the rooftops.

As he flies, some of the bombs that fall from his pouch explode on the buildings' ceramic shingles.

The Creature shrieks again at the pain of the shattering and booming sounds.

Devlyn crashes through the canopy of the trees, breaking his fall on the branches and gaining his wits quick enough to grab one young branch on the way down, allowing him to land softly on his feet.

Devlyn laughs heartily, then covers his mouth as he hears the creature stomping towards him.

Roofus has seen his master careening through the air and gallops back to his aid.

Devlyn sees his equipment scattered high amongst the trees as he darts between them to avoid the Creature's attacks and tries to think of a new plan when he hears Roofus barking frantically on the far side of the Creature.

The beast stops in its tracks and turns its attention to the dog.

Devlyn takes this opportunity and grabs his last bomb, pulling the safety and rolling it underneath the beast.

As the bomb explodes between the Creature's hind legs, it bucks and rolls back and forth violently, lashing at its wound with its tentacles and spreading its bright green blood across the forest floor.

Devlyn says, "Good Boy Roofus" He winks at his dog as he runs up on the Creature, brandishing his last spear high above his head with both hands before leaping and planting it deep into the Creature's chest.

It shrieks as he wrenches the shaft back and forth, scrambling its insides until it twitches and falls limp.

Devlyn hops down from the Creature and saunters proudly to give Roofus a scratch behind the ear and a well-deserved pat on the back.

Roofus hangs his tongue and barks happily at his master's praise but suddenly goes stiff and growls, the hairs on his back standing on end.

Devlyn turns and sees the Creature rolling back over, scraping the spear off its chest and starting its assault anew.

Devlyn sends Roofus back to his horse and walks back slowly, watching the Creature struggle to reach him.

He reaches for his bow but sees it hanging from the tree above the monster when his hand meets nothing but air.

He reaches for a bomb but realizes he used the last one in that exquisite display.

He lays his hand on the hilt of his shortsword, a weapon he hasn't used since receiving it as a gift from a stranger the previous winter.


It was given to him by a mysterious man who appeared when he had foolishly followed a rare white elk too far into the wilderness alone and found himself caught in a blizzard.

As he felt the ice encasing him, his vision blurring as he tried to shiver himself into some warmth, the stranger appeared and led him to a cave close by with a thermal spring to warm him and stave off frostbite.

The man warned Devlyn to be more careful with his ambition, telling him that there are things far more dangerous than the cold in the world before handing him the sword and heading back out into the snow.

Confused, Devlyn drew the sword halfway out of the scabbard and was nearly blinded by the white-gold etching on the blade, an eye wearing an infinity symbol as a crown and shedding a single tear.

The following morning when the storm had passed, Devlyn had rationalized this peculiar meeting as his mind playing tricks on him from the cold. He must have stumbled into the cave by sheer dumb luck and found the blade left by some careless traveller who forgot it after taking a dip.


Still, as he feels the hilt calling him to wrap his fingers around it and draw, he realizes that this meeting was not a dream or hallucination.

Devlyn draws the shortsword as the beast makes a final leap at him, jaws gaping. He steps back to ready for a thrust but trips over a chunk of rubble and falls flat on his back.

The beast looms over him with its jaws spread wide, and Devlyn thrusts up into the roof of the Creature's mouth.

A bright flash shines from the etching on the blade, and a hole opens up clean through the top of the Creature's skull where the blade pierces.

The beast collapses on top of him, and a pool of green blood oozes out in all directions.

Chapter 3

Devlyn crawls out between the tusk-like teeth of the slain beast and goes over to the well, dripping in the Creature's blood, dumping a few buckets full of water over himself as he calls for Roofus.

The two go fetch Winfrey and the cart.

Devlyn ties a length of rope around the Creature's arms and body, chocks the cart's wheels, and angles it so that he and his horse can pull the Creature's carcass onboard.

He does his best to retrieve his spears and bow from the treetops but can only knock his bow and two spears back down from the canopy with a few stones he hurls from the ground.

Devlyn and his animal companions journey back to Aegisglade and are greeted by thunderous applause from the people taking refuge in the encampment.

The Alderman shakes his hand so vigorously that Devlyn fears the man may take it with him when he turns to address his people.

The Alderman praises and blesses Devlyn repeatedly, and the people shower him with flowers and cheers.

Devlyn and The Alderman make their way into Aegisglade, heading for the court to secure the bounty.

As they walk, leading Devlyn's horse and cart, Devlyn expresses to the Alderman that he is sorry about all the damage. Beyond what was smashed when he first arrived, he could not keep the Creature from doing more damage in the battle. The Alderman laughs off his concern, saying that his people are industrious and eager to return home. Even if it were a pile of matchsticks, they would rebuild and have him to thank for the opportunity.

The men reach the court, and a clerk greets them dryly, unimpressed by the hulking carcass in the cart.

The clerk flips through a clipboard, thick with other bounties until they find the one for "The Squid Bear Crab of Skyalherth."

Devlyn looks to the Alderman, who says that the clerks needed a name; it was the first to come to mind.

Not entirely inaccurate, but hardly poetic.

Devlyn laughs and turns back to the clerk, seeing that the bounty reward had been crossed out and raised by another two thousand silver with a note that says that this bonus is to be paid if completed by the next full moon, which wasn't until that night.

Devlyns jaw drops. He can't believe his luck.

The clerk begins to pull up several cases of silver coins and offers Devlyn a strongbox for a very reasonable price.

Devlyn accepts the offer and takes a moment to admire all the freshly minted coins that are now his.

The clerk calls several porters who bring a new cart, offering to replace Devlyns old one, moving his provisions from the side of his old cart to his new one; he had strapped everything to the side above the wheel wells, as the Creature's carcass filled its bed entirely.

They place the strongbox in his cart and help him load it with the casks of coins.

The clerk tells him how to set a combination, and they all turn away politely as he does so.

Devlyn is overjoyed. This is more money than he has ever had in his life. He repeatedly thanks the clerk and the porters before laughing with the Alderman as they make their way back to the encampment.

As they part, Devlyn notices the people are already packing to make the journey home. The Alderman thanks Devlyn again and heads to help his people.

Devlyn goes to gloat to his friend Rory. The two share a meal and a round of drinks at Devlyns expense, drinking and laughing well into the night as he tells the story with only a few embellishments.

The following morning Devlyn makes his way east, heading home to The Riverlands.

As he readies to leave, he sees that the encampment is already emptied, and he is glad that he was able to do something to help so many people.

Something troubles him, though. He went to bed happy that night, yet he was woken many times from a fitful sleep, the full moon's light finding its way into his eyes.

He tried to put it out of his mind. It was time for him to head home now too.


About the author

Thomas James Donoghue

Fiction writer currently working on my graphic novel: The Weeping Woman & The Wild One.

This story and others still to come are part of the world I am creating: Aleph-Null.

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