Cruorem Veritas is a story written and illustrated by Iron Eater. It ran in Issue 75 at http://www.shousetsubangbang.com/mirror/cruorem-veritas/ .
A man of certain talents seeks help for a curious physical condition related to his job.
Hugh had known for a very long time that the only thing he was capable of doing well was hurting people.
Some gentlemen among his peers had only found this out when they started along the staggering, fawn-legged road that led from a boy's years to manhood, but not Hugh. Hugh had learned swift and early. He had fallen in with patrons who were understanding of his shortcomings and found good outlets for them, ones that didn't cause trouble with the constabulary, which meant that on days like today when he sat on the opposite side of Mr. Clifford-Smythe's terrible desk it was with unbound hands and unsullied clothes. Not everyone could say that.
Mr. Clifford-Smythe himself regarded Hugh with dispassion. This was not unusual, as Mr. Clifford-Smythe was what you would get if you exhumed a corpse and loaned it the face of a young lord, with a matching temperament. He was not without emotion, but as those he tended to exhibit erred on the side of frustration, anger, or disgust, those who worked for him strove to never see more than his statue-serene resting state. It was safer. More predictable.
"What seems to be the issue today, Mr. Wainwright?" he asked, tapping one long nail against the wood with the steady precision of a clock.Hugh had trouble meeting Mr. Clifford-Smythe's eyes where they hid behind their tidy little spectacles. He lifted a hand so it was easier to see. "They just keep growing back, sir," said Hugh.
This story is roughly based on FromSoftware's Bloodborne for the PS4, though not on any particular characters. The city depicted is not Yharnam.
A certain boss theme from Bloodborne's "The Old Hunters" DLC would not be out of place for setting the mood. It is also safe to assume Hugh's working clothes are very similar to those of the figure depicted in the video still.
It's a story about toxic masculinity! No, really!
Hot damn but I love Bloodborne as a concept, and I knew for this October I wanted to write from an actual point of symbolism from the start instead of just fumbling around and finding greater structure later. I probably could have made this gorier but there are only so many hours in the day! As I wrote this during a single harried week in the middle of an exhausting month, I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.
A particular challenge I found was to work with the concept of the destruction and metamorphosis of the self from a strong body horror angle without accidentally emitting transphobic vibes. This wasn't meant to be a trans narrative -- though the reader is welcome to interpret it as such if they like -- but my goal was to not actively alienate readers who might be sensitive about the subject. If the story was more about Jonathan I would have tried to include more about his modifications being attempts to deny and overwrite his nature rather than an act of radical self-actualization. The focus on brass is derived a pair of single lines in armor descriptions (a thing FromSoftware does) in which old-fashioned hunters strap down the right leg to prevent "beast blood" from traveling up through it, with brass gauntlets to further keep the yugh at bay.
Hugh is probably not as large as he is in the illustration I provided, though he's still quite big and has a case of Problem Snout. Permit me some artistic license.
Aside from the intentionally fussy diction used as part of setting the mood (also the whole concept of formal language paired against horrible violence for the sake of dissonance, etc.), one thing I strove to do was to ensure Hugh's inner monologue wouldn't be a perfect carbon copy of Riaag Bough-Breaker's, which meant making sure he didn't go on too many mental adventures, didn't worry about unknowns so much as societal mores, handling his self-loathing in an original way, etc. I'm sure the two of them would have plenty to talk about provided they found each other in possession of one another's company and a common language.
I was originally unsure how I was going to include any sort of butler or butler-like concept in this thing, and then Mr. Ward arrived, and all was well. Weird, slightly chilly characters in positions of authority, information, or both are a particular delight for me to write, especially if they are directly tied to another character in some sort of support or protective position.
While it is not mentioned anywhere in the text, Mr. Ward's first name is Aubrey. He is not named for the artist Aubrey Beardsley but instead Aubrey Hodges, alias Ken "Razor" Richmond, a composer who provided the music for the Playstation ports of Doom and Final Doom as well as Doom 64. Blame me watching a lot of videos on console ports during the writing process. It's safe to assume Mr. Ward is fine with Hugh usually only referring to him by surname. Mr. Ward's a man of unplumbed depths.
I actually didn't plan the "masculine humors" section of the meal journal until I'd written a few more mundane entries, but it and the Contractually Obligated Iron Eater Cannibalism Section felt like such natural additions to it I was glad I thought to give it a try. I've always been a sucker for interesting framing or organizational devices.
The art was made using different tools from usual because, as previously mentioned, I was very tired. I feel good about the look I accomplished even if I had to burn through quite a lot of reference images to keep Mr. Ward's pose from looking strange; Hugh's bits, of course, came out looking right more or less the instant I touched stylus to glass. As usual with my digital work, I employed Clip Studio EX for everything.
I absolutely want to write more about Hugh and Aubrey's Excellent Adventure but good grief, I write so many sequels as is. There's plenty of work for them to do in, around, and in spite of the society, after all!