Though the war continues to rage in lands beyond, here, a measure of peace has been drawn. Coexistence, however unstable it might sometimes be, has been erected in the hidden lake valley fed by rivers wiggling out of the Crystal Mountains. The teardrop shape adorns every monument, tower, and bridge, reminding those that live here the price that was paid in bloodshed and tears. Both kinds, those with scales like ice and wings like birds, and those with scales like stone and wings of leather, live inside the mountains' hollow bellies and fly the cerulean sky--together. When the war threatens their secluded range, they take flight and fend off the enemies--together. Beneath the Waterfall Gate, shrouded in the great cascades mist, grows a city on the water populated by those small, frail refugees. Here for them, too, lies a sanctuary from the violence. Though their lives are like the flickering of candles--brief and fragile--they nonetheless shed light on what their world should become if it can survive. The future lies with them, and they all know it. But, for now, the refugees serve as an unbiased counsel for their peoples--and sometimes, they become most loyal and trusted friends. Together, they may sit upon the far wall's ledge and gaze upon the Gate as they settle their differences and work toward a brighter future.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~This was the oil painting I worked my butt off last-minute to enter in my school's local art competition for my senior year. I painted from the moment I got home from school at around 4 until 1 in the morning with only an hour's break for dinner, but I managed to finish it in a single month. BOO-FRIGGIN'-YAH!! I ended up only taking 5th place in Oil Representational at that competition, but I am nonetheless very proud of how it turned out in the end. I will admit, I did get a bit liberal with my colors, though. I had meant to make a soft, lilac gray shadow for the Waterfall Gate's white stone, but it ended up looking pink. >_Update 2/12/11: Holy tolidos, ain't I never heard of a tertiary color before?