Ethylberry is an odd plant described in numerous texts, stories, mythologies and other such sources. It has been described as the dust of life, the first life on many new worlds, planted there by the gods, and once life has taken hold, the gods harvest it and move on. It has been the stuff of adventures, the object of quests and the prize of the Immortals.

In many tales, the goddess of the Harvest, Anabrax, is the keeper of Ethylberry, tending to hidden fields of it, planting where it is needed and then secreting it away when its use is done. When Anabrax was killed by the Horned God, the task of tending to Ethylberry passed on to another–some tales mention Atha, the goddess of Occasional Chaos, became the caretaker.

Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort wrote of encountering Ethylberry in his memoirs.

“I came upon an iron fountain tended to by the goddess Atha, at least she claimed to be a goddess, and there, growing around the base of the fountain in hard-packed earth under a purple sky, was a bed of mangy weeds. ‘This,’ she said, ‘is Ethylberry.’ With a simple clay pot and my bare hands, I was to pick a plant. The plants were compact and fibrous, dingy in appearance, with dark green leaves twisting about a central stalk. It sported a host of small yellow flowers that exuded a small but continual amount of lilting golden dust that took flight with the slightest of provocation. The plants were studded with savage thorns which penetrated my skin without resistance. The thorns were poisoned, and I felt my heart struggling to beat as my blood boiled. I felt my death coming …”

The goddess Atha is said to be the current caretaker of Ethylberry (Rebecca Sinz)

The dust from the Ethylberry plant has many properties. It encourages the beginnings of life, complete with rapid changes and evolution. It can nullify poisons, repair grievous wounds, enable magic spells, give everlasting vitality and return life to the dead.

The old Xaphan ruler Queen Ghome of Trimble was said to possess an overflowing urn of Ethylberry, or a lesser version of it, allowing her to change her appearance with ease.

copyright 2020, Ren Garcia

LOE Legends: The Bowerchests

November 27, 2020

Vith mythology and children’s tales tell of the great beasts of ages past: The Bowerchests. Metallic creatures crafted from the finest materials, they roams the mountainous passes of Vithland, so huge their lofty heads often broke the clouds. Each Vith Household had a unique Bowerchest guarding their most sacred treasures, and none would dare steal them.

As the old stories went, Bowerchests were created during the age known later as The Splendor of the Vith, when the Vith ascended in power rivaling that of the Sisterhood of Light. Built by Astral Craftsmen of the highest order and powered by an arcane heart, the Bowerchests were created first by the legendary hero Holt of the Mountain who had his treasures stolen by the tribes of Remnath to the south, treasures he never recovered. In response, he commissioned the creation of a “living” treasure vault, one that could crawl, run and fly and was aware of its surroundings, one that would be forever dedicated to he and the treasures he placed within.

As he filled its hollow innards with treasure, weapons and arcane items, the Bowerchest grew in size until it was taller than Mt. Vith. Utterly impregnable, the Bowerchest successfully withstood 700 attacks from the Remnath and Zenons. Taking the battle to the Remnaths, the Bowerchest eventually went south, plundering and razing the Remnath bastion at Wiln. When Holt was given one of the 25 Noab artifacts by the Elder Nylax, he placed it within his Bowerchest for safekeeping. When the Sisters came calling for the artifact, as they claimed ownership of all the Noabs, Holt refused to give it to them. Though favored of the Sisters, they attacked his Bowerchest without pause, hoping to claim the artifact and all other items hidden within. They were defeated by the Bowerchest, the only time the Sisters had ever been defeated in battle, and ever after the Sisters grew ever more jealous and fearful, determined to be rid of them. Other Vith Households followed suit, building their own Bowerchests in the form of monsters and legendary beasts and loading them with treasure until all of Vithland trembled under their feet and their wings darkened the skies.

They were said to be incredibly intelligent, crafty, and wise, could grow or shrink, and could transform themselves however they wished and could eliminate entire armies with a single blow. One story tells of a Zenon minstrel who managed to steal one gold coin from the Great Golden Bird Cymbelline of the House of Durst and how Cymbelline dogged and pursued the thief without pause until it recovered the coin.

Eventually, through guile and seduction, the Sisters managed to make the Vith “forget” about their Bowerchests, stealing them away and using the metal of their bodies to craft the original Fleet ships. Tales tell that a few Houses managed to hide their Bowerchests in a “secret place” beyond the Sisters’ gaze called Edamathrombo.

The disappearance of the Bowerchests and the creation of the Stellar Fleet signaled the end of the Splendor of the Vith.

But, those are all stories crafted to entertain children, correct? Such things could never truly exist, yes???

??

copyright 2020, Ren Garcia

MY WEIRD DREAM/NIGHTMARE

June 29, 2020

This house down the lane is just like our house, the exact same model with the exact same appointments, only it’s laid out in a mirror image from ours, a complete reverse of my house.

LaneObviously, to a person like me  with a percolating imagination, a house that is a Bizzaro-World mirror image of my house is a point of interest for me.

Three sets of people have lived there over the years. First was the young couple who built the house back around the turn of the century. They didn’t last too long. The next was an older couple who, year after year, maintained the exterior of the house in a pristine condition–spotless siding, fresh paint, and a thick green lawn such that a golf course might envy.

And then the house sold again, this time to several generations of a Nepalese family. We often see them sitting out on their porch enjoying the evening. They seem like nice enough people, though we haven’t introduced ourselves yet.

PHOTO_20200227_142309We walk our dog, Bella, every evening. Being a rambunctious Boston Terrier, she’s full of spit and vinegar, and if you don’t drain some of that excess energy off, she’ll go on a rampage–Bostons tend to do that. So, there we were out in the evening haze walking Bella past the above-mentioned house. The occupants were outside as usual, their children drawing colorful images in chalk on the sidewalk, trying to forget about the summer humidity. I noticed their garage door was open–not all the way, though. It was open about three quarters of the way. Inside the garage, I could see their grandmother sitting inside the garage in a centrally-placed chair. She’s a tiny woman, probably not even five feet tall, wearing colorful ethnic clothing, her hands placed neatly in her lap.

From our vantage point on the sidewalk and from the height of the partially open garage door, I could see all of her body sitting there, except for her head, the bottom of the door cut neatly across it. To me she appeared headless, and, with me being a writer and such, all sorts of story ideas went back and forth across my mind.

And then my dream …

Mexican-Wedding-Cakes-Recipe-SmartFunDIY-982x1024That night I had a dream of myself making a batch of Pan de Polvo to give to the people living in the house as a housewarming gift. Pan de Polvos are little cookies that are popular in Mexican culture–sometimes  they’re known as Mexican Wedding Cakes. My grandmother used to make them by the pound back in the day. They are very light, airy cookies that taste of butter and cinnamon–my wife loves them. So, in my dream, I made a batch, dusted them in sugar, plopped them in a tin and walked over to give them to the folks.

There they were, standing outside in the heat, once again the garage door was partially open, once again the grandmother sat in the middle of the garage and once again the bottom of the door cut through her neck, obscuring her head. As I offered them my name and the tin of cookies, they directed me to speak to their grandmother. I stepped forward, lowered my head and entered the garage.

In my dreaming mind, the woman sitting inside truly had no head. She sat there on an elemental stalagmite as if she hadn’t moved for ages. The orderly interior of the garage transformed from drywall and concrete to swampy and stagnant. The colorful clothing I had thought she was wearing were actually scaly appendages of an ancient body. At her neck was a gaping, stinking maw lined with inward-facing teeth and hair all situated around a bulbous, semi-ovular, slime-covered globe that served as a rudimentary alien eye.

Things shot out. I was wrenched forward and summarily consumed in several painful bites.

So, that was my nightmare–just the sort of crazed situation I often come up with after seeing something mundane that catches my attention. If I’m going to dream something, I dream it big, crazy, supercharging “nothing” into a big deal.

copyright 2020, Ren Garcia

 

Reality Bites

March 4, 2020

I’ve been pretty quiet lately. I spend almost no time on social media anymore, and even less time on the various writing projects I’ve got sitting in the fire, of which there are four.

I suppose the reason I write weird fiction is because reality is tough and doesn’t really  give a toss.

So, this all goes back around ten years or so. We all began to notice that Dad wasn’t quite right. He put his beloved, well-used golf clubs in the shed and began sitting in the dark. He was even more irritable than normal. He was neglecting his household chores–something he was always quite anal about. He’d have a thought and open his mouth to say something, and then the thought would drop out of his head and be gone as quickly as it came.

And then mom got sick, low blood sugar, and was hospitalized. That’s when things truly hit home. Mom sent dad to the house to get his insulin so he’d have it there when he needed it, along with a change of clothes. Home is about five miles from the hospital, with only one turn the entire way. What should have taken twenty minutes at most ended up taking five hours.

Dad had vanished.

We were all pacing about mom’s hospital room when the call from the police came in. Dad had been in an accident south of Lima, Ohio. His truck was totaled–fortunately, nobody had been hurt, except for a cistern and a church sign.

Lima, Ohio is about a hundred miles from their house. Dad had gotten lost, and just kept driving in the dark until he wrecked his truck in somebody’s backyard. The next day, I went to Lima to pick dad up from the emergency room. I remember seeing the long line of little rooms all lit up in a long curve of sterile lighting, except for one room plunked in the middle, which was dark and lonely like an island of gloom. That’s where my Dad was. He was sitting there in the dark, deactivated, like R2D2. He was fine except for a few cuts on his face. When I asked him if he knew where he was, he had no idea.

Dementia had come over him fast and hard. As I drove him back home, he peed on my seats.

And then, a few months later, my older sister died. It was a blood clot.

Sudden Death. She basically dropped dead. I think it was for the best. I think she was on the verge of a long slow decline in health. I wouldn’t have wanted to see that.

Cori1As we readied to go to my sister’s funeral, Dad sat there on the bed holding his tie. He said he didn’t know how to put in on, so I did for him what he once did for me when I was a kid. I put my arms around his neck and did his tie for him, situating it under his collar. At that moment, it was like all his power and authority passed from him into me, and I didn’t want it, truly I didn’t. Suddenly I had to be the authority, the man of the house. I had to be the strong one, to manage my mother’s wracking grief, as well as my own. I had to make the decisions.

I had to lead the family.

So, that’s where I’ve been lately, learning to live without my father and my sister. Things are ok. Sometimes Dad comes downstairs without his pants. Some times he’ll eat weird things (like a handful of 22 caliber bullets the other day), and everywhere he goes he leaves a trail of flooded toilets in his wake. We just laugh and try to get on as well as we can. The worst thing is when he asks if my sisters is dead–that’s the hardest thing. It’s always hard.

But, time does in fact march on. Things are getting better. Mom fully recovered and is doing well. I’ve actually started writing again. It’s crap–it’s all crap, but it’s a start. It’ll get better.

It always does.

It always does.

The Street of Knowledge

October 31, 2019

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted–hey, life happens.

The Street of Knowledge is one of the strangest, exotic, and, most dangerous places in the League of Elder universe. Outwardly, the culture and commerce of the Street is based largely on tourism. Even though the Street is located in the city of Vain right in the center of the austere Xaphan armada, the warm climate, unique cuisine, and breathtaking Great Xaphan Nebula lighting up the sky bring Xaphan tourists from far and wide.

Under the surface, however, the real commerce of the Street is minds, and/or the stealing and re-selling of minds, experiences, skills, etc. Vendors on the Street of Knowledge have developed technology specifically towards that end and have perfected it.  The Three Trades (the Russ, the AlbertCo and the Nightrobes) run the business of mind stealing, or “Vugging” as it’s known. Any person walking the street could be beset upon at any time, having their mind stolen by the Vuggers and then forced to buy back their own head.

Here’s a few brief terms before we continue:

Wonderland 1: Type 1 world in the heart of the Xaphan Armada, code-named Wonderland 1 in the League. The world doesn’t have a single, agreed upon name. The largest city on Wonderland 1 is Vain, located in the southern continent. The planet was thought to be a Planar World–one that disappears from one place and appears in another.

Vain: Vain is the largest city on Wonderland 1. Throughout Xaphan space, Vain is known as a tourist destination, famous for an agreeable climate, amazing food, and unique sellable goods. The Street of Knowledge runs through the center of Vain.

Kopulate: (copy/duplicate)A person with an exact mental image of someone else’s head. A Kopulate pays to have somebody else’s head uploaded into their own–usually that of a person who is gifted, highly skilled, famous or wealthy. The Kopulate than believes they are that person. Kopulates can be a persistent and dangerous nuisance.

Pentagulle: Pentagulle is the wealthiest, most tourist-focused section of the Street of Knowledge.

ECSP: (Engineering Commando Squad Pentagulle) The city police of Pentagulle enforcing law and order in Pentagulle. In reality, the ECSP aid and assist the Trades as they go about their mind-stealing exploits, branding those who resist and/or fight back, criminals.

“Stinko”: nickname for a person who has had their mind completely stolen from their heads. Typically, all a Stinko can do is breathe and stand up if knocked down.

Slate: Term for a person’s mind, includes all of their experiences, knowledge, skills, traits, etc.

Smoque: An expensive form of nano-tech often used to incapacitate and drain a victim of their Slate. Smoque looks like ordinary smoke and is unmatched in the speed at which the draining can take place.

Squash: Nano tech capsules filled with liquid, Squash-dat can quickly upload pre-programmed information into a person’s head by simply breaking a capsule against a person’s forehead. Squash can make a person skilled in things the person has no training or talent for, can increase their sexuality, can make them bold, or masters of combat–anything goes. Squash is freely sold on the Street.

The Trades: Three sects who run the mind-trade on the Street of Knowledge. They buy and sell Slates, skills, experiences, etc no questions asked and enjoy the protection from the ECSP if challenged.

Vugger: A person or sect of people roaming the Street of Knowledge out to steal and sell Slates.

THE SECTS

Several Vugging sects rule the area of the street known as Pentagulle, stealing minds and selling them to the Trades on a daily basis.

snake head whore sketch2THE SNAKE-HEAD WHORES: The infamous Snake-Head Whores are known far and wide. They are incredibly brazen and aggressive. Despite the continued efforts of the Nightrobes to keep things quiet, word of their exploits have even drifted off world, though Xaphans generally disbelieve rumors of mind-stealing and other unsavory things going on in Vain.

They are known, and dreaded, for their ability to drain a person down to “Stinko” in mere seconds. They wear headdresses composed of robotic snakes with blinking red eyes. These hypnotic snakes can fully mesmerize a victim in just a few moments. They also make use of expensive Smoque, which can also drain a person’s head in rapid order. The Snake-Heads work in close association with the Nightrobe Trade.

The Snake-Head Whores hang out at the Enselaco Bar in the heart of Pentagulle. There, they often put on plays using Meat Puppets–horrific automatons they use to take control of past victims. With their Meat Puppets, the Snake Head Whores can take control of said victims no matter how far away they may be. The Snake-Heads made a Meat Puppet of Kat, the Countess of Belmont-South Tyrol and tried to control her, though they underestimated her wrath and ability to fight back.

ST. CRISPENS FIRE: Running a number of well-regarded restaurants in the Pentagulle area, St. Crispens’ Fire is a much more innocuous and less belligerent sect than the Snake-Heads. They are in direct partnership with the Russ Trade.

Any person dinning at their numerous restaurants is subject to getting Vugged, though The Fire is much less obvious about their Vugging activities, often quietly scanning and copying any experiences or skills they come across without any fuss made. The Fire rarely Stinko a person (unless under direct orders from the Russ), and mostly their victims come and go from their restaurants unaware anything has happened. They will, on occasion, blackmail any persons with interesting thoughts or memories if that person has the wealth to make the blackmailing worth their while. The sold images of people’s heads have created Kopulates, a mental duplicate of another person who can become dangerous pests.

VERTI-HOVI’S: Closely allied with the AlbertCo trade, the Verti-Hovi’s are well known for running “Verti-Hovi parks in and around the Street of Knowledge. Rounding up Stinkos from all over, the VH’s place them into these parks and also paying customers to do with them however they please, often Squashing them into horrible acts. Even amongst Vuggers, the Verti-Hovis have a soiled, lowly reputation.

–The Street of Knowledge appears in LoE, Book 12: Kat

copyright 2019 Ren Garcia

The 6th Turn: Kat

May 5, 2019

Kat cover Front FinalI’ve been wanting to narrative one on my books on YouTube for a long time, and I’ve finally gotten around to it. The book I chose to read is: Kat, the 6th Turn of the Shadow tech Goddess.

I chose to read Kat because I think it’s a pretty cool book. I put a lot of work into it and, of all my book, she gets the least activity at shows and cons because of her placement at the end of the Shadow tech Goddess series–people tend to want to start at the beginning.

So, every Saturday, I’m going to release one chapter at a time–I’m not a professional reader or voice talent, so I do my best.

copyright 2019, Ren Garcia

THE MACHINE 3The Killanjo started out life as “evil spirits“,  conjured by certain people with the usual intent of doing harm. Lady Sammidoran, the heroine of the Temple trilogy, was, in the first draft, a Killanjo spirit whom Countess Sygillis captured and held prisoner in a bottle. I didn’t like the direction that storyline took, so a got rid of it, transforming “Sam” into a Monama instead.

The Killanjo also changed. I needed a really nasty, creepy, and just plain gross group of henchmen-style villains, so I turned them into the bleeding, skulking creatures they became.

Here’s what I came up with:

KILLANJO: A mythical creature that has, according to gossip, been plaguing Xaphan space for decades. A Killanjo is said to be a hideous corruption of a loved one: a son, daughter, brother or sister who is then turned loose upon their own families to create grief and chaos. Killanjo are said to be able to cast spells that render Elder-Kind helpless. It is also said a Killanjo cannot bear to see their reflection, one that does awakens from whatever spell they have been placed in and, unable to bear the horror of their own form, kill themselves.

As I love to hear myself talk, I did a short video on them:

 

copyright 2019: Ren Garcia

We’ve been at this for what–over ten years now?? In that time, we’ve commissioned a literal ton of artwork from amazing artists all over the world. I created a short YouTube video  presenting some (but not nearly all) of the amazing pieces that have helped make The League of Elder what it is today, a deep, ever-growing mythology of words and pictures.

Enjoy!

 

Bowl Naked: RDG

copyright 2019, Ren Garcia

The Belmont Saga–Update

February 23, 2019

As we zoom along into 2019, The Belmont Saga, a compilation of Books 6 and 7 is nearly ready to go. The revised manuscript is totally done, though we keep tinkering. The Cover is nearly complete. The front is done–the back is still in progress. I suppose this counts as a cover reveal, though I never bother with those–when I get something, I share it immediately.

sands final-web (2)

Front cover for The Belmont Saga, by Carol Phillips (unlettered)

I did manage to get around to scribbling up a back cover blurb. So, here goes:

GET THE BRANDY TO BAZZ . . .

That’s all Paymaster Stenstrom, the Lord of Belmont-South Tyrol, has to do and the old Warbird Seeker is his. He has dreamed of captaining a Fleet ship his entire life.

Little does Paymaster Stenstrom realize that he is in the grip of an old Vendetta and the short trip to Bazz might very well be his last.

Faced with a dead ship and a lost crew, Paymaster Stenstrom finds help in the strangest places: the jail-jockey Marine and the milquetoast young man from the Admiral’s office, and, though he just became acquainted with these two strangers, he discovers they have been influencing each other’s lives for a very long time.

stenstrom sketch1003-update (2)

Conceptual sketch for the back cover, by Carol Phillips

Something sinister hovers over Paymaster Stenstrom and his two new friends, something they are only now becoming aware of. Is the Seeker about to become just another ship that set sail from safe shores never to be heard from again?

Sands of the Solar Empire and Against the Druries, told as they were meant to be told, as one book with a grand new look. In this tale of vile evil and hopeless terror, can new friendship and new love conquer all?

The Belmont Saga will feature over 70 interior maps and illustrations, some of which are all new. I really can’t wait for this one to be completed. The swashbuckling tale of Paymaster Stenstrom, Taara de la Anderson, Captain Gwendolyn and Lord A-Ram has always been one of my personal favs.

The Belmont Saga will be published in mid 2019 by Hydra Publications.

copyright 2019, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

The Belmont Saga

November 14, 2018

Of all the books I’ve published, Books 6 and 7 were the ones I’ve regretted the most.

Book 6When I wrote Sands of the Solar Empire, I introduced the LoE Second Series with a whole new cast of Characters including Paymaster Stenstrom, Lord of Belmont, Private Taara de la Anderson of the 110th Marines, Lillian of Gamboa, and, fan-favorite Lord A-Ram.

I wrote the book full of mystery, giving Paymaster Stenstrom all sorts of secrets at the beginning of the book, and then revealing them bit-by-bit in the second act leading to an exciting conclusion.

But, things didn’t quite work out like that.

Given Sands’ 200,000+ word count, I was compelled by my then  publisher to split the work into two books of roughly equal length. I ended up with Sands of the Solar Empire, and Against the Druries. 

Book 7The bad thing: I didn’t write Sands to be two books–I wrote it to be one long book, with the front end being more about discovering the characters I’d introduced, and the back half being much more action-oriented. Splitting the book down the center made Sands a very disjointed book, where I introduce the plot and leave it hanging butt-first to the wind. I even had to contrive a manufactured ending where none of the plot is resolved at all–a total face-palm cliffhanger, and not a very good one at that. Some readers didn’t notice the abrupt ending, but some utterly hated it and let me know all about it, with me having to give a tacit mea culpa, as I knew they were correct.  Against the Druries, being a much tighter, action-oriented story where the plot is resolved, was a much more well-appreciated book.

stenstrom-lilly-colorstudy4d (2) Red

Rough sketch for The Belmont Saga cover, by Carol Phillips

But now, under the Hydra brand, I finally get to correct that injustice and finally give Sands of the Solar Empire and Against the Druries the treatment they deserve and they will be republished as one book entitled The Belmont Saga. Finally, the story can be told as I meant for it to unfold, as one narrative with a beginning, middle and an end as all stories should have. Plus, the book will feature a brand new cover by Carol Phillips and over 70 interior artworks with some being totally new.

I can’t wait for this one to come out, as I’ve always dreamed to see it–one story, one book done up right, Hydra-style.

The Belmont Saga will be available in mid-2019 from Hydra Publications

copyright 2018, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips