The Queen of the Swamp

This is Tzod. She is the queen of the tribal denizens of the great swamp Bastal, a dreaded and impenetrable northern bog that has spawned so many grim tales that the few travelers who return from its treacherous banks have come back to civilization calling it The Allsorrow. But to Tzod, adorned with her giant toad’s skull crown, it is home.

Each new moon, her tribe gathers to see the swamp’s dreaming mind turned to visions in the bonfire when Tzod ignites the sacred leaves that are entrusted to her, passed down from mother to daughter.

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Now, however, her tribe grows small - heedless of the legends, an upstart from the distant Empire has settled on the swamp’s outskirts, and, as they harvest the swamp’s resources to build their settlement, Tzod’s tribe has tried to repel them and met with deadly opposition from the settlement’s hired mercenary forces.

What guidance will the swamp reveal to her to in flames? What forces will compel her to ascend the frozen peak?

In The Spine of Night, Tzod is portrayed by Sydney Matthews. She imbued the role with savage ferocity and stoic purpose, a woman burdened with responsibility not just for her tribe, or her home, but, perhaps, for all of life itself.

Next time on the blog: the scholar, Ghal-Sur.

 

All Hail.

This is Syr. Legends say he was the first King of Men.

They say when the world was newly dreamed, he led mankind out of the wilderness. He forged weapons to hunt and to kill. He built himself a crown. They sing songs of his conquests, his sorrows, and his rage.

What drove him to such bloodlust is a thing much argued by scholars and mystics alike.

Syr is the lead character in a segment called The Road of Straw. It is the most psychedelic of the segments in the film. 

Despite being a lead, Syr has no lines of dialogue in the film. Instead, the role rests entirely on visual intensity, on a sense of barely contained rage. 

In our film, Syr is played by Crimson Al-Khemia. Crimson came in and gave us an audition that bristled with energy. He brought that same raw energy to the role, He was willing and eager to throw himself, sometimes literally, at any challenge we gave him, invariably with a grin on his face. 

Next time, a familiar figure: The Guardian. 

Twin Blades at Play on the Night Wind

This is Sparrowcrow. She is an expert assassin.

She and her two compatriots, Falconhawk and Kestrelwren, are the last remaining members of a guild known simply as The Aviary. For ages, it has been this guild’s role to uphold and interpret the intentions of the founder of their city: The Great King Uxon.

If any official of the city-state steps outside the bounds of those founding principles, it is up to this guild to bring them back into line, using whatever means they deem necessary. More often than not, that involves violence. 

They operate outside of but adjacent to the law and government of the city. They are respected and they are feared. They are the final arbiters of how Uxon is to be run. 

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The Aviary self-selects its members. They tend to come from the city’s underclass. Once selected and trained, you are a member until death, forswearing your previous life and all that came with it.

Sparrowcrow loves her work with guild. She is a fiery member of the Aviary. Quick to anger and nearly as quick to strike. Her signature weapons are twin knives. Nothing gives her more pleasure than bloodying them. Passionate and dedicated to both her city and her guild, Sparrowcrow is a force to be reckoned with. 

Recently, Sparrowcrow and her compatriots lost their mentor, Jay. That loss left them reeling. Jay picked all three of them, trained all three of them, guided all three of them. 

Since Jay’s death, they have been unable to select a new member….

… because the city of Uxon is under siege a siege so terrible its very walls threaten to give way any moment.

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In our film, Sparrowcrow is played by actress and model Christine Cilano.

Christine brought the perfect physicality to a role in which actions speak far louder than words. She was game for anything, throwing herself as fully into choreographing her own fights and as she did spreading the wings we made for her and pretending to fly while lying on a yoga ball. She made Sparrowcrow into a fierce character.

Next week, we discuss the mysterious Syr, first king of men. 

Mongrel.

This is Mongrel.

Mongrel is a warrior and wanderer, most recently hailing from the desert empire known as Ul’imir. He’s a savage fighter, a marauder extraordinaire, and a man well acquainted with slaughter.

Mongrel has both cut and connived his way through many tight spots. At one point, before our current tale, he even went toe to snout with the mysterious Ape King.

Mongrel's current plight is seemingly far less strange. 

He’s attached himself to the service of one Lord Pyrantin, ruler of an upstart settlement located along the banks of a deep and dark swamp. The name of this settlement is Pyr, pronounced such that it rhymes with "fire." It is the key location of our entire film. 

Much more on Lord Pyrantin later but suffice to say here that he is a petty ruler, sadistic and foolish, driven by dreams of conquest and ruled by his baser emotions. 

Mongrel is never one to take an assignment from, or serve at the feet of, stupidity without an angle. In Pyr, Mongrel is waiting to spring a trap. He has a score to settle with Pyrantin’s father, a truly great ruler, by the name of Uxon. 

By playing nice with Pyrantin, Mongrel’s biding his time. Waiting for opportunity to strike at the real power. 

The moment will come, Mongrel’s sure of it. And if it ends up being not the exact moment he’s envisioned, then he’ll make do with the moment that comes. Mongrel is ever the opportunist.

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To the right is the original concept art for Mongrel. Mongrel has been played by a few different actors. In the Ape King short, he's portrayed by Mac Ridge. 

In The Spine of Night, Mongrel is played by Andrea Petrosinelli. Andrea is lead of Providence metal act, Sangus. 

Get a taste of Andrea in action with Sangus here. Check out their facebook page here.

Andrea brought an unbridled intensity to Mongrel. He growls his lines and sneers his emotions. He keeps his physicality on edge, always threatening. He is, in short, a consummate and perfect barbarian. 

Mongrel is a character Morgan has been writing and thinking about for a long time. You’ll probably be hearing more about him later.

Next week we learn of the assassin named Sparrowcrow.

A Scholar in Search of Knowledge, Lost…

Meet Phae-Agura, hero of the segment “In Doom, I Am Reborn.”

Towards the end of the reign of King Mongrel, Phae was the Pantheon Ashurban’s greatest Field Acquisitionor. As such, it was her role to travel the continent in search of rare tomes and lost knowledge, meting out the wisdom of the Ashur to those in need as she went.

Her most recent excursion, based on years of research by Uruq Il-Irin, Grand High Inquisitor of the Ashur, has taken her far from the mess halls of the Pantheon, through lands fraught with danger and finally into the flooded ruins of a city long forgotten by the average man but known to scholars as Ka-Mul.

There, deep inside statues and shrines dedicated to strange gods, she is searching for a text said to hold the key to ancient mysteries, both terrible and powerful. 

Phae is an adventurer, a scholar and a swordswoman. She’s The Spine of Night's answer to Indiana Jones.

Phae is portrayed by actress Betty Gabriel

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As seen in the concept art to the right, Phae was originally written and designed as a male character. 

When Betty came to us via producer Jean Rattle, we had her read for two roles. The first role was a female role the second one was Phae. She knocked the Phae reading out of the park.  She so embodied the spirit of Phae, that we couldn’t cast it any other way.

And so Phae the final version of Phae-Agura, scholar of the Pantheon Ashurban, was born.

Next week... we tell the legend of the raider, the marauder, the man known as Mongrel.