Shem is not amused by Qeriah's new hobby. Shem's anger makes him short-circuit. Shem reverts to his rawer form.
In Update #21, "Mother May I? Part 2", we learn that while Shem 'Etzem's holy form may easily defeat the Bavel Macrostructure’s minions, it’s no match for Em Qeriah’s lack of seriousness. Will Shem’s hair-trigger temper prevent him from becoming the Evaluator of Names? While this issue mostly continues the arguments and power struggles among the rising generation of Holy Tongue Society leadership and the old, it also shows how Shem can revert from his powerful, holy שום form back to his still-powerful, but baser עצם form. Adam comes up for a good reason at the end of this update. Get ready to learn more in the next update! (By the way, this webcomic will discontinue the numerical "Episode" system where some episodes last for multiple updates. While the next update would technically be Episode 16, this website's formatting plus ones like Webtoon and Tapas make the old system archaic. We'll just stick to numbering according to updates.) Other news Although it's not fully implemented, we updated the Wordpress theme to Toocheke Premium, which will allow us to use more Patreon and WooCommerce integration. If you've noticed that the site was slower recently, it's because we were trying to implement those features. I'm hoping to ask around to figure out a way to have the site run reasonably quickly plus have our own online store and bonus webpages for Patreon subscribers only. By the way, please sign up for my Patreon! Even a dollar a month adds up... Also, keep checking our wiki for updates. I've been adding beta sections to the Milhamah RPG storytelling game, plus there are all sorts of details about the comic there. Anyway, thanks for reading, and I hope to bring more updates soon!
 

 

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An Oreg spins webs. We spin a web update!

The Oreg's destiny is woven in quarantine.

If you think the world’s quarantine is dragging on, tell it to the oreg!

The oreg is a weaver bird who lives in the Holy Tongue Society’s Oger Reservoir. Many oregs perch themselves on an old lazaretto ship in the middle of the reservoir lake. They spin together webs around the ship in order to trap prisoners that the Society has quarantined — slanderous social lepers who are dangerous to the outside world!

To protect themselves from contagion, oregs wear plague doctor masks that the Society distributes. The birds are able to spin webs due to special feet that look and act like spiders. That said, the feet are neither sentient nor truly spiders.

Oregs are helpful to the Society, both as jailers and for their webs, which are good for netting and catching debris. However, people are wise to keep an arm’s distance. The birds can be very territorial over their webs.

Continue reading “An Oreg spins webs. We spin a web update!”

Beware of the Oger, the piggy bank hamster!

When most people think of fantasy worlds, ogres tend to come up. The “Milhamah” universe has its own set of beasts and monsters that inhabit it, including the oger. But an oger is a bit different from the average porcine giant…

Oger hamsters gobble up money.

Ogers are basically large piggy bank hamsters, or coin-eating “hammy” banks.  In the upcoming Milhamah Issue #3, Ogers appropriately live in the underground Oger Reservoir, a lake filled with treasures and scrap that the Holy Tongue Society has obtained in war.

Under Arigah’s authority, the oger hamsters help organize the war booty by either eating it or sticking it into their backs. When they are ready to deposit it, they spit out their contents. Piggish manners, but what can you do?

So why do ogers like to eat and store up money? Well, they are based on the shoresh root אגר, which deals with hoarding and wages. “Oger” literally means “hamster” in Hebrew, and the root also connects to “agorah,” which is 1/100 of a shekel. That is why an oger’s fur has a print that resembles the Israeli new shekel sign, similar to a dollar sign.

Ogers are typically friendly with people, and they aren’t the only creature to dwell among the Holy Tongue Society. Look forward to a bigger bestiary to come!

Arigah Egronai weaves into ‘Milhamah’

As concept work on “Milhamah” Issue #3 continues, here is another character who readers will meet: Arigah Egronai. Arigah Egronai holds her weave shuttle. Arigah is a low-level glossarist and lexicologist who works in the Holy Tongue Society’s Department of Semantics. She does most of her work in the Society’s underground Oger Reservoir, where she does intelligence research based on Bavel’s destroyed equipment and scrap. Her main interest is reverse-engineering Bavel’s censored letters and speech balloons into armor and equipment for the Society. In order to do this, she wields a giant weaving shuttle that spins material for her creations. It makes a good double-edged spear too! At heart, Arigah is a hoarder with a billion different plans and projects, most of them incomplete and in need of more funding. Fortunately, she hired and trained an army of Oger hamsters to do the grunt work. (You’ll meet them soon!) Her main shoresh root is ארג, which is tied to weaving. By permuting the shoresh letters, she also has אגר characteristics of collecting, letters and wages. How will Arigah mesh with Shem and his friends? That’s just one of the mysteries that Issue #3 will unveil…

Creator’s note

Arigah is part of the first batch of characters I have made with the latest version of Adobe Animate.  The updated brush features should make a difference in rendering hair, fur and vegetation, though it’s performance-heavy on my current computer. Lately, I did a series of Adobe Creative Suite tutorials to catch up with newer features and techniques. So hopefully I can keep a balance between getting work done and raising the bar on quality. I also experimented  with making Shem and Tiqwah black and white, manga-style, as a way to speed up story production. Not sure I’m satisfied with it, but I’ll keep playing with it. On the side, I also have about 35 pages more done on the Milhamah RPG that I introduced in April. It will need revising to streamline the rules and make them both comprehensive and consistent. But I can’t wait to sell the final product — hopefully next year if the pandemic dies down by then!

Davar and dever: Hebrew and the plague

It’s a bit off-topic from “Milhamah” stuff, but the coronavirus inspired some recent articles on Hebrew and plagues. The connection makes sense, as the word davar (for “word” or “thing”) shares the same ד-ב-ר root as dever (“plague”). The root already debuted in the “Milhamah” comic. But David Curwin, author of the Balashon Hebrew blog, writes that the two words’ origins differ despite the common root:

More surprisingly, it is not cognate with the word hadbara – “extermination.” That word comes from a third Hebrew root, which meant “to follow behind” or “to push forward.” This meaning led to the word midbar – “desert,” which was a place where cattle were pushed forward to graze. In the more intense hifil form of the verb, hidbir, “pushing forward” became “subdue, overwhelm,” and from there came the meaning “to eliminate, exterminate.” (“Yadber sonenu,” we recite in the Prayer for the I.D.F., asking God to “subdue our enemies.”)

Meanwhile, Daniel Kennemer writes in The Times of Israel about the etymology behind the root ר-ש-ף. It can mean fire, plague, birds, demons and even a Canaanite god named Reshef or Rishpu:

“He spread epidemics and death. […] He is represented with a shield, a club and a lightning bolt,” according to one summary.

Lastly, author Jeremy Benstein writes about the linguistics of infection related to the root ד-ב-ק, tying it to Deut. 28:21. He also notes the root’s sexual and secular meanings, as well as spiritual ones such as “spiritual closeness with God” and the antithesis of:

when an evil spirit clings to a person, a sort of demonic possession, known as a דיבוק dybbuk, made popular in the play by S. An-sky of that name.

Whether our modern anxieties call to plagues, pagan gods or demons, the sickness of our age is obvious. It’s all the more reason why we need heroes armed with candor and dedication.        

War, pestilence… and a famine of content

The year 2020 has been quite an apocalypse. So why not use some of that inspiration and stay-at-home time to work on “Milhamah: Fighting Words” projects and content? I’ll begin with an apology for no recent content. In March, I moved up my wedding day and got married, less than 48 hours before a government-ordered lockdown began.   But after a six-month hiatus from creating “Milhamah” characters, I’m feeling rested and ready to start new progress. Though upcoming comic cons may be canceled, this is a time to sow my talents for a harvest to come. Here is what I plan to do:
  1. I’m finalizing the script for “Milhamah” Issue 3: The arc will begin after the Deli battle and introduce new characters like Em Qeriah, as well as the enemy Guf soldiers. Shem and Tiqwah will also explore a bit of life in the capital city of ‘Ir Reshumim, and meet a new, mysterious figure.
  2. I’m working on Shem and Tiqwah animations for some “Milhamah” arcade minigames. The games will include a twin-stick arcade game as well as a SkiFree game with a twist. Here is a sample running animation: A Tiqwah running animation
  3. I’m drafting a tabletop RPG/game in the “Milhamah” universe. This game will use special 12-sided dice that are based on Hebrew alphabet ciphers: Red is Atbash, blue is Albam, and green is Akhbi. By rolling dice, flipping them over or switching colors, players may maximize their roll results to form letter combos and improvise solutions to obstacles in the game.
Customized 12-sided Hebrew dice are used in an upcoming "Milhamah" RPG.

More about the dice

So how did I come up with the dice? Throughout the ages, biblical commentators and mystics have used all sorts of alphabet ciphers to interpret (and often misinterpret) Hebrew literature. For instance, some scholars believe that the Atbash cipher is used in the biblical book of Jeremiah, where Sheshakh is a hidden codeword for Bavel. The cool part is that the three chosen ciphers are cyclical, so that by using all three of them, you return to the same Hebrew letter. For instance, א -> Atbash -> ת -> Albam -> כ -> Akhbi -> א. For now I’ll be making my own dice with blank Chessex dice and custom labels on a desktop cutting machine — at least until I find a freedom-friendly supplier to mass manufacture them at a reasonable price. The goal will be to sell the RPG book and the dice in 2021.  Expect more “Milhamah” comic art to come soon!