100 Theme Challenge #21 - "Falling"
His panda student's heartbreaking cry reverberated down the stone shaft to the old master's ears. Face turned upwards, he could see the light of Tigress's lantern fade away as he was plunged into darkness. The only light left was the fiery red glow beneath him from the flames of the Mongshou's molten rock body, accompanied by its roars and shrieks that rumbled up the rock walls of the shaft as it too careened down into the blackness.
Shifu closed his eyes as soon as the lantern light and the cry of Po's voice faded away. Only time could tell if they were truly ready to go on without him. He hated to let go now, as much as any of them. True, the Five were entirely capable of holding their own and exceeding in battle, and expert enough to be training their own students. But Po...He was still practically a cub. If push came to shove, he was the Dragon Warrior. Surely, he would always pull through, especially with the Five at his side. But at the same time, Shifu knew from experience what it was like to feel so unprepared with such pressure at such a young age, and how horrible it could feel to face it in light of losing someone close...
And Tigress...his own daughter...
His sky-blue eyes opened once more to peer up into the darkness. What was done was done... His students, his children were safe...and he wasn't done yet. He may have been careening down this dismal stone shaft in pursuit of a savage behemoth composed of stone and fire, down towards what very easily may be both of their deaths. But as long as he was here, as long as he had the strength and will and a single breath still in his body, this fight was not over. For him, at a fall of this magnitude, it would take a miracle for him to survive whatever waited for him at the bottom. But as it was formed of solid rock, the Mongshou could just as easily survive and bounce back from this brutal fall and would most likely try to get in the caves again to defend its mountain. Meaning that it wouldn't have any trouble at all in catching up with and killing Po and the Five.Not even over my dead body, you won't...
Gritting his teeth, the red panda forced himself into a head-first dive down the pit, pinning his arms to his sides so he shot like a stream-lined missile towards his foe.
Squinting and scowling past the sharp blasts of heat pelting against his face, he managed to spot the brief silhouette of Oogway's staff against the Mongshou's flames, somehow withstanding them as it seemed to make its own streamlined dive to lead the Grandmaster. The heat of the monster's flames rippled at Shifu viciously, sullying his snow-white fur with patches of black ash. Yet he kept his eyes set with burning ferocity on his target. His robes rippling in the blasts of hot air, he stretched a scorched arm out for his master's staff - his
staff - his sole companion in this, his one last fight...
OYYY. XD This one took a while. I'm still not sure if I'm comfortable with how it looks... Especially the soot on Shifu's fur. It seemed necessary, but it was hard to make it look right.
So some of you may be confused by the little blurb I wrote with this. Well, in my "Lord of the Scrolls" story, my KFP/Lord of the Rings crossover that you see a poster of on my profile page, I basically have Shifu sharing the roles of both Gandalf and Aragorn. And in my version, the Balrog is named the "Mongshou". I watched the beginning of The Two Towers the other day, and I saw that scene where Gandalf just dives head-first with sword-in-hand to battle the Balrog, even when their falling to their deaths. O_O That's a "battle to the end" attitude if I ever saw one. And for some reason I really wanted to draw Shifu in such an intense pose. Cause, you know, he has the potential to be as epic as Gandalf. XD If only Dreamworks would work with it. So until then, here ya go.
On a side note, I did my share of listening to some real "kick-butt" songs during the making of this. My favorite, though, was this little gem by various artists.Well, I won't back down
No, I won't back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I
Won't back down
Gonna stand my ground
Won't be turned around
And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down
Gonna stand my ground
And I won't back down
I listened to that song, repeating those lines in my head while drawing Shifu there.
Background stock found here ([link]
) by ~mariastock