Larken Zooks & Trafalgar Swiftfoot – gnome beast master ranger
Another jigsaw puzzle that offered some challenges with the desire for an angled pose and trying to get just the right expression on Larken’s face. I wish there were more happy smiling mouths, but this one works as well as any. I went kung-fu with masking over shapes to crop stuff and decided not to overcomplicate things with textures or shading. The background proved surprisingly tricky, as most of the forest or tavern type options felt either too cluttered or too oppressive for Larken’s relatively small features. So I went with a more atmospheric backdrop rather than a realistic depiction of a moment in the pair’s travels, and while there’s a bit of a style clash between the hazy background and the characters’ sharp definition, I’m okay with that since it makes the character details stand out more.
Larken is one of the few denizens of her hidden forest gnome village to ever venture beyond their secluded enclave. She loves exploring and always comes back from her jaunts with exciting stories to tell and goodies for her nieces and nephews. She developed a reputation for boldness and stubborn self-reliance, eschewing companionship on her outings aside from a series of small animals that she kept as pets.
One such pet, a squirrel named Fluffernutter, was snapped up by a wolf as Larken watched in horror. Driven by emotion, she set after the wolf intent on vengeance. However, over the course of a relentless week-long pursuit, she found that she couldn’t bring herself to take the life of such a majestic creature – but she also couldn’t accept just giving up after coming so far. When she found herself too exhausted to fend off an attacking bear, the wolf came to her aid and saved her life. She had earned its respect through her perseverance, expert tracking, and benevolent nature, and it devoted itself to her then and there.
As the two of them subsequently got to know each other better, the wolf (who finally accepted the name Trafalgar Swiftfoot after rejecting a slew of less dignified suggestions) had to adjust to Larken’s goofy demeanor, and she had to accept that her new companion was a bit of a frumpypuss. But they love each other and make a great team. Since they’ve been together her journeys have taken her farther abroad than ever before, and she’s always on the lookout for new adventures that will make for great stories to tell.