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The Evolution of a Beast

I doodled a lot in school. If there were margins on a worksheet that was handed out, I was bound to have scribbled something into that space. I was in middle school when I sketched out a werewolf-esque creature with wings and a reptilian tail, and thus Kaldok was born. Though why he was part werewolf and part dragon was beyond me and my eighth-grade brain.

The bratak'ra weren't very different.

I distinctly remember being in chemistry class. Why I remember this so vividly, God only knows. Because my memory and I aren't exactly on the best of terms (I'm too busy remembering random facts about Tilion that no one else will likely ever know or care to know, I guess). I'm not very good at the maths and sciences, so why I remember my chemistry room so clearly is sort of weird for me. Possibly because it was a new building and a new room and my teacher kept lighting things on fire and making them explode (science is fun kids!).

There was a glorious blank back page of one of our lab worksheets, and while performing whatever it was we had to do that day (look and how well I retain my high school knowledge), I doodled out a creature. It was sorta canine-ish and sorta ram-ish and sorta monster-ish. There was no thought to what it was, why it was, or where it came from. I just doodled.

I scribbled the name "bratak'ra" next to it for no apparent reason. I made a point to save it when clearing out my binder for chemistry, all the while continuing to use them in my imaginary world. At this point in my life, I didn't want to admit to anyone - especially myself - that I wanted to write a fantasy story about dragons and monsters and about saving the world from impending doom. So bratak'ra just got shoved into the box in my head that I tried to pretend I didn't want to play with. (More on that some other time).

Fast forward like...UGH. Twenty years?

Can you see why I leapt at the opportunity to work with Michaella? After twenty minutes from me sending her that awful little sketch of mine, she sent me this, and I realized that I was about to be blessed beyond words. And this was just the beginning, in so many ways. This was, quite legitimately, the very first thing that Michaella whipped up for me.

The bratak'ra were about to become flesh and blood thanks to her.

About a year later, this was the next stage of the bratak'ra's evolution. There was definition to them, a weight and depth I'd only vaguely seen in my mind's eye before that was beginning to rumble forward with a threatening growl. There's this beautiful progression toward a real beast.

(I have to plug my dear friend Kara here. Michaella, her, and me spent close to thirty minutes talking through the horns, how they work, why they work, and where they could be placed. There was a point where I said, "Let's just put one of the horns on their cheekbones!"

Kara let out a sigh and said, "You can't do that."

"Why not?"

"Because that would block their sinuses!" Kara shot back, proceeding to go into detail about how carnivores sinuses work.

I deflated and whined, "Kara, can't we just say, 'it's a fantasy story, and they're make-believe creatures'?")

Michaella was chomping at the bit to do a cleaner sketch of the bratak'ra for their introduction, (and I was perfectly fine with that). Over the course of about a day, Michaella sketched out the latest concept sketch of a dual-horned bratak'ra.

I feel beyond blessed to have had the opportunity to work with someone so innately talented as Michaella. Her drive and passion to produce quality work, and her dedication to her craft, are inspiring to me. I cannot wait to share with you more of her work!


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