HOB: The Wunderlucks

December 26, 2015

The Wunderlucks are a group of treasure and fame-seeking bravos from the Remnath area of Kana. They appear in the upcoming House of Bloodstein books. They are rude, crude and generally a trouble-making bunch. (Note–Authors have long memories. I based the Wunderlucks after bullies and louts I’ve known throughout my life.) 

HOB 4

The House of Wunderluck. In the background is a sham mock-up of the legendary Oberphilliax (Painting by Carol Phillips)

 

THE OLD JOCANDAS

The Wunderlucks are a modern off-shoot of the much older Remnath House of Jocanda. The Jocandas were infamous for declaring war on the Sisterhood of Light during a contentious land dispute (the rightness or wrongness of their position has been lost  over time). The Sisters were, and still are, the defacto rulers of the League, and the Jocandas ill-advised “war” with them plunged their House into the dregs of Kanan society (The derogatory term “Jo-Boy” stems from this war. A Jo-Boy is a foolish person doggedly engaged in a fruitless or ill-advised task with no hope of success.)

Slowly, the Jocandas, relocated to the hills outside of the city of Wiln, died out, with several of their progeny branching off forming their own new Households, including the Storrs, the Wilners, and, most notably, the Wunderlucks.

 

IF YOU HATE US, YOU’LL HAVE TO RESPECT US

The Wunderlucks’ on-going credo is to restore prestige to their line, to erase the stain of the old Jocandas and to become the premier House on Kana and the League at large by any means necessary. Their most immediate goal is to fill their empty coffers with treasure. The concept of Frundage, or “collecting” is an important status measuring stick in the League, ie, the more you have, the more status you obtain. All of the great Houses possess massive stockpiles of treasure, land-holdings, arms, arcane items, vehicles and beasts. The Wunderlucks had virtually nothing when their House was formed, and they have, ever since, been acquiring any item, pile of junk, dogged-out vessel and arcane device they can get their hands on. Some of these items they purchased, others they quested for, and most they simply stole. They make no bones about theft, in fact they boast of it. The arcane item they are after the most is the legendary Oberphilliax, which they have laid claim to many times.

The Wunderlucks are unmistakable out in public. They wear garish spacing suits of shocking red, trimmed in blistering yellow, usually with a proud “W” emblazoned somewhere on their attire. The girl, Clara Wunderluck, mostly wears slinky, off-the-shoulder dresses and chain-smokes Wolf menthols. Wherever they go, they make a point of calling out the local hero and starting a brawl.

Despite her unsavory reputation, Clara Wunderluck is highly skilled at reverse-engineering arcane items (Carol Phillips)

Despite her unsavory reputation, Clara Wunderluck is highly skilled at reverse-engineering arcane items (Carol Phillips)

They are mercenaries for hire, lending out their services whether they are wanted or not. Aiken Wunderluck is the front man and spin-doctor of the group. He is adept at keeping his ears open, at hearing hidden conversations and discovering opportunities to acquire treasure or fame. Once they are on to a promising lead, they are difficult to be rid of. Their usual tactics include being as verbose, rude, obnoxious and haughty as they can, finding the low road they choose to tread upon to be much more productive than engaging in usual decorum. Beating them or imprisoning them accomplishes nothing, they are undaunted by defeats, humiliations, censures, and getting cast out of certain areas–they consider these things victories. Aiken Wunderluck can spin a humiliating defeat or shocking scandal into a resounding victory in the public’s eye.  This “burn all the bridges” attitude has earned them few friends and a host of enemies, but, it has succeeded in making a notorious name for themselves. Any fame is good fame in their eyes.

 

CHEAP, KNOCK-OFF ARCANE ITEMS

Clara Wunderluck has proved herself a master of reverse engineering arcane items and creating easily produced knock offs that function in a temporary or limited capacity. She has replicated the Progenitor’s Skull, various dimensional jars, and, most notably the 10th Finger of Zahuti. None of these items are as potent as the originals and only work for a limited time, however, the fact she can do these things has provided added income for the House and more infamy to their name.

Her brother, Rusty Wunderluck, is a name in the Xaphan underworld as a smuggler and League traitor, with a number of sleezy  contacts in the darkest of Xaphan ports. He is often able to obtain illegal Xaphan items, most notably the Midas Hemolizer assassination weapon, which he doesn’t hesitate to use in battle.

The final brother, Ernst Wunderluck is a mouth-breathing bore and blunt instrument of the group, always eager to cause a scene in public. He is known for his hatred of the Monama peoples to the southeast.

bloodstein-purple CroppedThe Wunderlucks give our heroes fits and no peace in the upcoming House of Bloodstein books from Loconeal Publishing.

 

copyright 2015, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

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The release of LoE Book 9: Stenibelle is here!! I’m very proud of the book and of the character in it, the first LoE book to feature a female main character–most of the previous books have been ensembles with strong male and female characters.

Stenibelle (Cover by Carol Phillips)

Stenibelle (Cover by Carol Phillips)

I’ve been asked if I think Stenibelle is a Feminist Book. I actually have no idea. The word “Feminist” has taken somewhat of a radical turn from the `60’s up till now. In the `60’s it meant a free, liberated woman, doing things previously considered to be “unlady-like” A `60’s feminist was probably a tomboy, or a hippie girl living in a VW van, smoking weed and wearing baggy clothes. She lived her life as she wanted, which might deviate from the established female model (chaste, married, motherhood, etc…).

Nowadays the word “Feminist” seems synonymous with “Feminazi“, a cold, opinionated, emotionally unavailable, agenda-ridden woman who hates all men. An invincible, man-killing war-machine bent on proving the superiority of the female gender. Obviously, such a character is a stereotype, and a polarizing one at that, setting both genders against each other.

 

STENIBELLE AND “THE TESTS”

I wrote Stenibelle to be a Female-Centric book, one that focused on the struggles of a female character without being political or polarizing. Stenibelle is not invincible, or perfect for that matter. She’s a flawed human being who starts out angry and unsure of herself, needing a healthy “kick-in-the-rear” to get pointed right. Stenibelle learns. She grows, she becomes more than what she was, as should be the case in any piece of fiction: the capacity to change.

So, what sort of a book is “Stenibelle”?

There are a number of tests out there, mostly aimed at judging women’s roles in films. We can apply these tests to Stenibelle, the book and see how she rates (Of course, this is me, the biased author judging the book. Read it for yourself and feel free to rebut if needed).

Bechdel Test

The Bechdel Test is a set of three simple and rather loose requirements designed to determine the role of women in a film.

  1. The movie has to have at least two women in it.
  2. The women must talk to each other.
  3. The women must talk about something besides men.

Given these rather vague requirements, Stenibelle easily passes the Bechdel Test. There are lots of females in the book, many more than just two. They have lengthy conversations with each other, and many of their conversations don’t involve men at all (of course, “talking about men” is a very nebulous factor. Are the women talking about a boyfriend? Are they talking about a man in the home or workplace? As there are only two genders, erasing 50% of them from a protracted conversation can be difficult if not impossible, forcing the conversation to be nothing more than “girl-talk” which opens a whole new can of worms. We’ll assume “talking about men” means discussing a boyfriend, husband or other love-related interest.)

 

The Russo Test

The Russo Test is a fairly new test designed to analyze the representation of LGBT characters in films. Inspired by the Bechdel test it’s named after film historian Vito Russo. It also has three loose criteria:

  1. The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender.
  2. The character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  3. The character must be tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect.

Without going into too much of the plot and the outcome of the story, Stenibelle passes the Russo Test, and it does so without being pushy, political or in any way agenda-driven.

 

The Mako Mori Test

Mako Mori was one of the lone female characters in the film Pacific Rim. Her depiction in the film has become the standard in giving a female a “fake, action-driven” role to play that fails the Bechdel Test.  Again, the test has three basic criteria:

  1. At least one female character must be present
  2. The female gets her own narrative arc
  3. The female does not exist solely to supporting a man’s story.

Again, Stenibelle passes. Stenibelle is not there to simply support a secondary male character. This is her story. Without her, there would be nothing.

 

The “Sexy Lamp” Test

Comic book writer Kelly Sue De Connick created a somewhat tongue-in-cheek test judging the role of females in a story-arc.  Essentially, if you can replace the female character with a lamp, blow-up doll, stirring stick or similar prop, would the story still fly??

Yes–you cannot replace Stenibelle with a cool lamp and have the story function. It would not–not at all. Moving on.

 

There is an additional test called the Finkbeiner Test dealing with the role of women in science. As Stenibelle is not a scientist (she’s actually more of a sorceress) this one really doesn’t apply.

So, that’s it. With Stenibelle, I wrote a human story dealing with a female in a tight spot. I tried to write it so that anybody, female or male, could get behind her and cheer. Pick it up–see if you agree.

Stenibelle will be available 7/24 from Loconeal Publishing.

 

copyright 2015, Ren Garcia

Queen Ghome’s reign over the border world of Trimble was certainly memorable. Trimble was, traditionally, a quiet place ruled with a steady hand by the House of Sevarr. When the last of the Sevarrs,  Queen Xo, died at a young age, her wife Queen Ghome took control, and very quickly, her fiery, tyrannical nature became evident.

Queen Ghome was an accomplished botanist. When she wasn’t murdering would-be lovers, starting wars on Xaphan worlds or killing off her own people by the thousands, she loved to relax in her bastion of the Garden of Zama and dream up new and exotic types of plants–most of which were either poisonous, carnivorous or contained a deadly property. Here are three of the most famous.

HORVATH CREEPER:

The Horvath Creeper (painting by Alexander O'Riordan)

The Horvath Creeper (painting by Alexander O’Riordan)

The Horvath Creeper was a large, slow-growing plant with a white, meaty flower that grew in calm pools of shallow water. It had a fairly strict list of requirements in order to thrive and was, accordingly, a rarely seen plant in the wetlands of Trimble. That is until Queen Ghome when to work on it.

She enhanced the benign plant, giving it an utterly sinister life cycle turning it parasitic. The Creeper now depended on human beings to survive, specifically, Gifted humans, those with the Seven Gifts of the Mind.  The golden spores of the Horvath Creeper, laced with narcotic perfume, get into the sinus of its victims and embed themselves. Those who do not have Gifts, the spores wither and die. However, those with the Gifts of the Mind provide fertile ground for the Creeper to thrive. The spores latch into the nervous system of the host and wait for the moment to strike. When the host encounters a pool of calm, shallow water, the spores activate and take-over the mind of the host, compelling them to jump into the water and drown themselves. Several weeks later, a large Creeper flower bursts from the victim’s skull, breeching the surface of the water. If allowed to fully grow, the Creeper will eventually tangle throughout the victim’s body, leaving a vine covered skeleton with a single white flower coming out of the skull.

Queen Ghome loves using the Creeper against enemies with Gifts of the Mind. All it takes is one good whiff of the spores and the victim is infected. Additionally, the spores deaden the victim’s use of their Gifts, making them unavailable for use. For those with the Gifts of the Mind, the mere sight of the Horvath Creeper is enough to inspire dread and terror.

 

ABOLETH:

Aboleth (painting by Alexander O'Riordan)

Aboleth (painting by Alexander O’Riordan)

An innocent lily pad, Aboleth is one of Queen Ghome’s most deadly creations. Aboleth belongs to a sub-genus of the common lily pad. In her long reign on Trimble, before being deposed from power at the Battle of the Tomb, Queen Ghome discovered a secret hiding in this innocuous plant. When harvested at the correct age, allowed to dry and when soaked with a few secret chemicals, Aboleth reveals an amazing secret: it explodes.

Aboleth explodes with remarkable force, easily releasing as much energy as a comparable artificially-created explosive of similar weight. Another remarkable property: Aboleth explosions are shaped, it releases its energy in one direction, always following the path of least resistance. It also cuts through armor and composite materials like they are not even there.

Queen Ghome and her followers wear Aboleth like body armor, powdering it and bushing it on. Many times, they dye the powder, painting into their bodies in decorative dots and swirls. Other times, they put it on plain, where it becomes invisible on the skin. Any forceful contact, and the Aboleth goes off. Warlord Crantz of Sorrander once tried to seize Queen Ghome and forcefully drag her on to his starcraft. The Aboleth explosion that followed took his whole arm off.  Ghome and her followers are adept at using the Aboleth as deadly weapons, easily able to attack and kill armored enemies.

 

DEATH EYE:

Death Eye (painting by Alexander O'Riordan)

Death Eye (painting by Alexander O’Riordan)

A bizarre and completely original creation of Queen Ghome, Death Eye has a number of medical uses and has been smuggled off of Trimble. League Hospitalers use the cocktail of chemicals found within it for various medications.

Death Eye appears as a colorful fungus with a fruiting body resembling a single eyeball. The fungus is quite toxic with a 90% mortality rate in those attempting to ingest it.  Eating Death Eye creates extremely vivid hallucinations, which are often psychically accurate down to the smallest details. Additionally, those eating Death Eye can sometimes alter reality to suite the details of their hallucinations.

Queen Ghome had an endless stream of criminals (often-times, these criminals were innocent people arrested on ficticious charges) she forced to eat Death Eye to give her information she needed. She learned the location of the Urn of Anabrax from an eater of Death Eye.  She also foiled the actions of her greatest enemies, the BMQ (Brotherhood of the Murdered Queen) by changing reality to undermine their activities to oust her from the throne.

In the League, the Hospitalers extract the drug Stenotarcin from Death Eye and use it in their Gaming Sessions to discover hidden secrets.

copyright 2015, Ren Garcia and Alexander O’Riordan

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HoB: Waiting for #6

January 8, 2015

Nobody’s perfect.

In Book V: The Temple of the Exploding Head, the heroine of the story, Lady Sammidoran of Monama, is transformed into a homicidal Berserkacide bent on killing her love, Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort. The Berserkacide detested everything Sam loved. It hated “Kay” most of all, and he shot her dead in the ruins of the House of Bodice.

Sam waiting in the Grove at the foot of Carahil's statue (Painting by Fantasio)

Sam waiting in the Grove at the foot of Carahil’s statue (Painting by Fantasio)

Without revealing too much, Sam was returned from the dead about a year later, resuming her relationship with Kay, eventually marrying him in a grand ceremony. Certainly a happy ending.

But wait …

Though it’s not covered in the pages of the book, a lot of things happened in the year or so Sam was in her tomb on Dead Hill. Life, reluctantly, went on. Kay, though heartbroken at the loss of Sam, was an eligible young man, a sought-after prize, and many sought to take his hand. One of the prime suitors, hand selected and approved by Kay’s mother, Countess Sygillis of Blanchefort, was an ex-Black Hat and member of the Xandarr 44 Sisterhood named Domeneau of Holly, or #6 as she was designated within the Xandarr 44 sisterhood.

#6 (sketch by Carol Phillips)

#6 (sketch by Carol Phillips)

She had met Kay briefly while he was visiting the King and Queen of Xandarr. She found him handsome and suitably demure in a Vith-like manner. She made it known to Kay her door would be “unlocked” should he choose to pass through it, though he did not take her up on her offer. Several months later, #6 and a group of her adopted sisters, made the trip to Kana to pray at foot of Carahil‘s statue in the Blanchefort Telmus Grove. The Xandarr 44 had an open invitation to visit the Grove whenever they wished, as they considered Carahil, their savior during the Battle of Xandarr, to be a god. During her visit to the grove, #6 encountered Kay, he wandering alone in the tree-lined passes, lost and still grieving over Sam’s death. Before the day was out, Kay would take solace in #6’s arms. They made love, they would make love many times, #6 occupying Kay’s bed frequently. Once, they made love on Sam’s tomb.

It became a foregone conclusion, that #6 would become the next countess of Blanchefort. She even had a great number of her clothes sent to the castle.

But then, there was Sam, laughing, smiling, back from the dead, ready to resume her life with Kay as if nothing had happened. Sam was in, #6 was out, and she wasn’t happy about it.

As Sam discovered what had transpired while she was dead, she became rather put-off. Sam has quite a possessive and jealous streak and, in her private discussions with Kay’s sister, Lady Kilos of Blanchefort, revealed that she would have hoped that Kay would have grieved over her for the rest of his life. She considered #6 a home-wrecker and a rootless usurping slut. She even thought that forgiving Kay for “cheating” on her while she was dead was a great display of character and charity on her part. Sam found the trunk full of #6’s clothes and sent them back to Xandarr in tatters.

Conversely, #6 developed an intense hatred of Sam, the woman to wouldn’t stay dead. She had been warned in Gods Temple that the spirit of Sam was nearby and would attempt to re-enter the realm of the living. Fearing Sam’s “recorporation”, she snared her tomb with StT’s, intending to re-kill her should Sam rise from her grave. Obviously, her efforts failed terribly.

Sam developed an intense desire to confront and kill #6. She wasn’t proud of those feelings and kept them to herself. She took to creeping out to Carahil’s statue in the Grove to wait and see if #6 showed up to pray. Sometimes she would sit out there all night, waiting in the dark with her claws sharpened.

Sam’s strained relationship with #6 is further explored in LoE Book 10: the House of Bloodstein, coming soon from Loconeal publishing.

copyright 2015: Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips and Fantasio

hbs-start6-update

Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, by Carol Phillips

I’m sometimes asked how I come up with the various characters that populate my books. That’s a tough question to answer, and, if you present two different authors with the same question, you’ll get two entirely different responses. Personally, I don’t have a set process for creating characters. Some come from external inspiration (Thomasina the 19th of Waam was inspired by my grandmother), while others are pieced together over a long period of time (Lady Sammidoran of Monama took a lot of thought and genesis). Others hit me all at once–in just an instant I know everything about them (Lt. Kilos of Tusck is such a character).

I think of all the various characters I’ve toyed with over 8 League of Elder books now, the mysterious Grand Dame from Calvert, Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, EVoR is one of the most challenging, both to the other characters in the books, and to myself as the author. She never fails to surprise and impress.

THE PROFESSOR’S ADVERSARY:

In the early days of the League of Elder, the resident egghead was clearly The Professor, the nameless husband of Lt. Kilos, a man with the seemingly demonic ability to get answers to questions.

The thing with the Professor, he was always a foil, a tool to provide timely information. He was never intended to drive a plotline. Right around Book V, I decided to add a touch of flavor to him. I began speaking of The Hertogs, a group of disaffected scholars and artesans with a bone to pick with the Sisterhood of Light. I hint that the Professor had a “rival” within the Hertogs, an opposite number who was his equal in many ways. This rival matched him in intellect and in the ability to find answers to difficult questions. This rival exceeded him in regards to contacts, resources, plugability, tenacity and overall ruthlessness. That’s all I really had, just a vague concept for a character that was my version of the Kingpin with her little hooks into everything. That was the shadowy, formless beginnings of Hannah-Ben Shurlamp.

An early painting of Professor Hannah-Ben Shurlamp,  by Eve Ventrue

An early painting of Professor Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, by Eve Ventrue

THE GENESIS OF HANNAH-BEN:

Oftentimes, dreaming up the unpublished backstory of your fantasy world is the most fun part of the creative process. A lot of that stuff never makes it to the page, but provides an important foundation to place a story upon; you don’t really see it, but it gives the author confidence to write boldly.

I thought about this person, this unnamed scholar who was to be the Professor’s nemesis. The character seemed to be female in my head, so I went with it. I imagined her dressed from tip to top in frothy white, like an ice princess. As a boy visiting my grandmother’s house in Texas, I recalled a time where a garter snake had somehow gotten into her flour tin, and she wanted it dead. I tipped the tin over and the snake came out and raced across the floor, white like a snowflake until the flour rubbed off and revealed the black scales beneath (BTW-the snake got away to the safety of the backyard). That memory hit me in the face. I pictured my lady as strong and swarthy with an olive skin tone powdered into white perfection. As a child, I always found C.S. Lewis’ White Witch very imposing and threatening, and I wanted a similar vibe for my scholar. I imagined her with a great head of long, bumpy black hair. As my current heroine, Lady Sammidoran of Monama had a similar look, I decided to cram her black hair into a towering white wig with only a few hints of black locks spilling out here and there. So, with a white gown and a white wig with powdered features and hints of raven, I had my lady’s look. I threw in a wand-like system controller glyph as an added touch to give her a witchy quality.

Now, for her name. As the Professor doesn’t get to have a name (why, I don’t know), his wigged and powdered opposite number would have a grand, tangible name to provide a bit of contrast. I wanted her name to sound smart, something concrete and full of cultured bravado. I wanted a name that could be hoisted up in glittering lights. It took me awhile to come up with it–attaching names to characters can be a chore.

Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, as a One-Mile high hologram with the ever-present picture of her husband by Carol Phillips

Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, as a One-Mile high hologram with the ever-present picture of her husband. by Carol Phillips

I had a Black Hat I’d dreamed up in Book 4, Wilhella Cormand-Grande, the Mad Black Hat of Waam. I liked that name and thought about “re-assigning” to my scholar, but, for continuity’s sake, I left it where it was. I toyed with the idea of calling her St. Edna the Beasley. I figured this scholar has every title, degree, accolade and appellation available in the League attached to her, so why not saint as well?? I mean, if you’re going to do something, do it big. (BTW–I have a thing for the name Beasley. I have a book of Cthulhu adventures that I love, and in one of the stories, the bad guys were the Beasley Brothers. I’ve always wanted to use the Beasley name in my works, but always have a change of heart at the end. In Book 7, the band of evil robotic brothers were originally named Beasleys, so Book 7 was almost titled: Against the Beasleys, instead of the more-salty-sounding Druries).

So, anyway, the name Edna and Beasley for that matter simply wasn’t kick-ass and cool enough, therefore I moved on.

While inspecting the Ruins of Chanute Air Force Base in Illinois, I discovered the usual symbol for knowledge and learning is a lamp; a lamp illuminates, a lamp lights the way and throws aside darkness. Lamps were carved in stone all over Chanute, which was a training base. I knew that I wanted the word “lamp” in her name. A key is also associated with learning, to “unlock” the potential of young minds, so I batted around the idea of calling her “Keylamp“. Hmmm, I didn’t know. There’s an idiomatic phrase in Spanish that applies to the name Keylamp: no tiene chiste. It means: it doesn’t have any oomph, no pizazz. Keylamp just didn’t have the right sound. It had no chiste (lol, not really a correct word to use, but whatever) and I wanted my lady to have lots of chiste, so I got rid of the key part and kept the lamp.

I recalled once getting yelled at by a customer by the name of “Ms. Shurlbutt”. I recall this person having an indomitable will, not afraid to make a public scene and really giving me the business. That’s how I wanted my scholar to be: a tower of will. I thought to combine “Shurlbutt” with “lamp”, and got “Shurlamp“. Seemed to be what I was looking for. For her given name, I decided early on, I wanted to add the tag -Ben. I realize “ben” in Hebrew means “son of“, so what’s -Ben doing tacked onto a lady’s name?? I wanted that touch of masculinity in her name to give her an air of macho prowess and bravado. As for the Hannah part, I just picked that out of a hat and found no fault with it.

So, I had her name: Hannah-Ben Shurlamp.

Sketch of Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, by Sarah Smith

Sketch of Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, by Sarah Smith

HANNAH-BEN’S TITLES:

As she is a Professor at the University of Dee in Calvert, Hannah-Ben Shurlamp has a number of post-graduate degrees attached to her name. Her full range of titles and degrees is vast:

Grand Dame Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, Professor Emeritus, University of Dee. EVoR, QrduP. NvPhD. Gran-Sequitor Hobanis-Realis and Knight of Bazz.

Though she was born into the Vith Household of Bloodstein, she married a man from Calvert and lost her title of Lady, instead being referred to as Grand Dame, as Calvert ladies are.

The EvoR is the degree she’s most commonly referred to. The E degree is like a bachelor of arts degree. The vo is akin to a masters, and the R is my version of a PhD. It takes around 200 years to earn an EvoR, so clearly, she’s quite old, though, in standard Elder fashion, she doesn’t show her age physically. All the rest of the titles and degrees, I just made up and haven’t explored much further.

HANNAH-BEN’S HUSBAND:
Professor Shurlamp, by any reckoning, is a buxom and beautiful woman with intellect and wealth that knows few rivals. It strikes people as odd that she chose to marry a singularly average teetotaler from Calvert. She towers over this man in terms of wealth, intellect and sophistication, and he is entirely unaware of the underworld forces his wife commands or the number of people she enriches and ruins on a daily basis. People speculate on the reasoning for the marriage: was it blackmail, a cuckold, a political arrangement?? There had to be something. The reasoning is quite simple: she loves him, she continues to adore him and his picture is never far wherever she goes. And he, of all the people in the League, is the only person safe from her wrath.

Hannah-Ben Shurlamp appears in LoE Book 8: The Shadow tech Goddess and in upcoming Book 9: Stenibelle, both from loconeal Publications.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips, Eve Ventrue and Sarah Smith

StG Characters: King

July 2, 2014

Lady Poe of Blanchefort (Carol Phillips)

Lady Poe of Blanchefort (Carol Phillips)

Lady Poe of Blanchefort has become highly regarded for her ability to create wondrous Silver tech Familiars. Working out in the mystical Telmus Grove she has created literally dozens, each capable of performing amazing feats. Bark the dog is her untiring eyes and ears, Shadow the cat hunts down and destroys Shadow tech. Whisper the ladybug hides one sight and sound. Her sister-in-law and ex-Black Hat Sygillis of Blanchefort, has often marveled at her amazing creations. Among her more notable Silver tech masterpieces, Lady Poe created Carahil, a Nargal-spirit that became a god.

One of her favorite familiars is Tweeter, a tiny silver bird that can assist one in getting to where they need to go. She keeps a whole bell tower full of them in the northern wing of Castle Blanchefort, ready for use should someone need them. And, like all of her creations, Tweeter smiles. Lady Poe’s love of happy faces is well-known.

After the horrific events in the Grove with the Golden People and their Killanjo servants that nearly cost Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort his life, Lady Poe realized that the world can be a dangerous place and that she needed to actively protect the people she loved.

She took the basic Tweeter design and modified it, creating a Silver tech familiar that could kill if required. She once admired a kingfisher bird as it hovered over the lake hunting for food, so she shaped her new creation into the form of a crested kingfisher and named it King. And, as with all her creations, King functions perfectly. He does his job extremely well.

Although he never smiles, King can have a fairly winsome personality (Ewelina Dolzycka)

Although he never smiles, King can have a fairly winsome personality (Ewelina Dolzycka)

King can do a number of things. He can go from standing still to moving at rail gun speeds in a matter of moments. He can pierce armor, touch-off explosions, and easily bring down small to medium-sized craft. He is also extremely effective against Shadow tech. His touch dissolves Shadow tech. He can also create a silvery cone of light from his eyes that vaporizes the dreaded StT’s Black Hats love using. He is able to lift heavy loads and he can fly across empty space from one planet to another. It is rumored King can change his shape into a much larger creature, but that has not been confirmed.

King also never smiles, unlike the rest of her creations.

Being a pacifist, Lady Poe was rather ashamed of her creation and the damage he could do. Instead of placing him in the bell tower with the Tweeters, she planted a number of embryonic Kings in a Servants Graveyard out in the vastness of the Grove. When one is needed, one must venture out to the graveyard, recite the incantation, and a King will rise. As a safeguard in keeping King from becoming an unprincipled murdering machine, he will imprint off of a nearby person, incorporating aspects of their personality into his own with the intent of furnishing him with restraint and a conscience. This imprinting gives King a marked variable in personality, with sometimes surprising results.

Sarah of Blanchefort always wants a King at her side (Eve Ventrue)

Sarah of Blanchefort always wants a King at her side (Eve Ventrue)

Although Lady Poe intended that King only be used in an emergency situation, her feisty, hot-headed daughter and full-time adventurer, Sarah of Blanchefort, simply loves King and considers him her mother’s greatest and coolest achievement. Whenever she has a need that a Tweeter could easily fulfill, she nevertheless goes to the graveyard and gets a King, leading to a number of rebukes and punishments from her mother that do absolutely no good.

Lady Poe is currently considering moving his resting place from the graveyard to somewhere else in the Grove where Sarah cannot find him.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips, Eve Ventrue and Ewelina Dolzycka.

She was a woman whose face he could not describe, whose voice he would not recognize, yet, she haunted Paymaster Stenstrom’s thoughts.

There was one thing and one thing only that he knew for certain–he had failed her.

The Woman with the Gun (Carol Phillips)

The Woman with the Gun (Carol Phillips)

The mysterious Woman with the Gun appears at various spots in LoE Book VIII: The Shadow tech Goddess. She is a shadowy character whose identity and motives are unknown. Paymaster Stenstrom, the hero of the tale, believes he encountered her in the forbidden Ruins of Clovis, though his memory of his time in the Ruins is suspect at best. Searching his thoughts, he remembers encountering a woman in the dark under Clovis. He remembers her saying something, though most of what she said is lost to him. The only thing he could remember is that she claimed to be his wife, and that she had depended on him doing something, and that he had failed. Though he can’t recall what she looked like or even the sound of her voice, her memory nevertheless haunts him.

Later, Lord A-Ram and his fiancé, Lady Alesta of Dare, encounter her, and it’s through their account that a description of her appearance is made. Lord A-Ram had trouble sleeping one evening. As he lay there in the dark of his quarters aboard the Seeker, he became aware that someone was in the room with him. It was, according to A-Ram and Alesta, a tall woman with fair hair wearing some sort of flight suit complete with a life support harness and dangling air hoses. She wore thick treaded boots and carried a gun in a shoulder holster. That’s what A-Ram remembered most about her, her gun. Alesta recalled her hair was set and styled up, as if for an evening out despite her utilitarian garb.

The Woman with the Gun apologizes for disturbing their sleep. She tells A-Ram and Alesta that she is Paymaster Stenstrom’s wife and that she had travelled a long way to speak to them. She tells A-Ram and Alesta how much she admires them and how she longs for a day when she may invite them to her home and entertain them as cherished guests. Then, this proud woman towering over them both begs them to help her. She says without them all will be lost and her service to the gods will never end. With tears in her eyes, she awaits their answer.

stgcover-frontThe Woman with the Gun appears in LoE Book VIII: The Shadow tech Goddess, due out soon from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips.

StG: Extra-Planar Entities

December 2, 2013

Production on LoE Book 8: The Shadow tech Goddess is well underway. Featured heavily in the book is the concept of multiple universes/realities and how they interact together.

The Hospitaler Theory of Opposing Mirrors states that, while mass is finite, the number of realities mass can inhabit is infinite. Reality is simply a partitioned, defined reflection of a Common State and, therefore, an infinite number of realities can exist. The farther away a reality exists from the Common State, the more variation will occur.

The Professor discovered and proved the Equation of Opposites, a formula determining how many Wvulgroms of a single person may exist (Bea Kimura)

The Professor discovered and proved the Equation of Opposites, a formula determining how many Wvulgroms of a single person may exist (Bea Kimura)

The threshold from one reality to the next is guarded by a fractional place known as The Hall of Mirrors. The Hall of Mirrors actively prevents passage from one reality to the next. (See future blog post: Hall of Mirrors).

Extra-Planar Entities go hand in hand with this concept. Extra-Planar Entities are, in most cases, beings from a different reality. They can also be beings who have been assigned a special status in the grand scheme of the universe, these select individuals are known as Planarites.

One or more Wvulgroms of Paymasters Stenstrom are female.

One or more Wvulgroms of Paymaster Stenstrom are female. (Eve Ventrue)

Wvulgrom: A Wvulgrom is an alternate version of yourself from a different reality. A Wvulgrom is not a copy of you and nor is it a changeling or doppelganger. A Wvulgrom is you, it even shares your atomic mass, it simply exists in a different reality. They can be of a similar note in terms of wants and needs, or they can be completely different. It is possible for a Wvulgrom of yourself to be either dead or not yet born. Vast gulfs of time can elapse between the lifespans of Wvulgroms. In some instances, your Wvulgrom might look completely different than you do, or, in rarer cases, might be a different gender or might not even be human.

PLANARITES: Planarites are individuals who, knowingly or unknowingly, enjoy a special Extra-Planar status across the various realities.

Kaidar Gemain: The Kaidar Gemain or “The One Who is Everywhere” is a person who exists in all realities. This is a very rare circumstance as most beings do not exist in all realities but only a small percentage (The Equation of Opposites determines how many Wvulgroms of oneself may exist throughout the realities). The Kaidar Gemain commands vast extra-planar powers. People are drawn to him or her. They are often highly lucky, often gifted in unusual ways. The Kaidar Gemain is the pinnacle of extra-planarism.

Merthig: The Merthig is an unusual entity. “Merth” is the old Cammarian word for “soul“, therefore the Merthig is the soulmate of the Kaidar Gemain. The Merthig is most often the pre-selected mate of the Kaidar Gemain, and is with him or her the most (but not always) across the realities. In realities where the two are together, they are both much more potent than they would have been otherwise. The Merthig often displays astounding skills, Gifts or other talents–this they derive from their association with the Kaidar Gemain.

Bellathauser, the left-hand side of Queen Wendilnight is a well- known V Dogan demon (Fantasio)

Bellathauser, the alter-ego of Queen Wendilnight is a well- known V Dogan demon (Fantasio)

Merten: The Merten is almost a Merthig, but not quite. Mertens often times carry encoded messages within their very bodies. The method of extracting the information often times leads to the death of the Merten.

V Dogan: Possibly one of the most bizarre of all the Planarites, the V Dogan is a type of demon that has escaped its universal shackles and exists within the Nodes of Reality. The V Dogan has no fixed place of universal residence and can appear out of any Hall of Mirrors. They attempt to get past the Anatameter and exit via the Hall of Mundane, though they are normally unsuccessful. In cases where a universe had become a Spiralata, the V Dogan is more likely to be successful in escaping. V Dogans are spreading, multiplying like a virus and, just when one has been destroyed, another pops up again elsewhere. They tend to create chaos and are generally quite destructive to the fabric of the universe it has contaminated, often leading to destruction by the Shadow tech Goddess.

A V Dogan can look and act completely different, depending on the Node of Reality they appear from. They can, on occasion, be reasonable, other times they can be mindless and demented. They are persistent and extremely difficult to be rid of. The cybernetic creature Bellathauser is a known V Dogan demon.

The Tempus Findal (early conceptual  sketch by Fantasio)_

The Tempus Findal (early conceptual sketch by Fantasio)

Tempus Findal: Much has been written regarding the odd, lonely creature known as the Tempus Findal, the One and Only. This entity exists in only one reality. It is the soul survivor of a Planar Event known as a Findalmarch in which all but one aspect of itself dies. This lone survivor becomes a creature of immense destructive power. It is immune to the Hall of Mirrors and can cross the planes however it wishes, it can appear fair or foul. It can create heart-stopping fear and has the strength of twenty men. The only way a Tempus Findal can die is either at the place of its Findalmarch, by an artifact of the place or by the hand of another Tempus Findal.

It, more than any other creature, is drawn to the Kaidar Gemain. Once it detects one, it will travel across the universe if it must to get to him or her. It will kill any in its path, especially the Merthig whom it takes great delight in killing, and then it will latch onto the Kaidar Gemain and bleed him or her dry, feeding like a parasite though it can appear charming and benevolent. Once it becomes gorged with power, it will sometimes forget what it is and believe it is a simple mortal again, but always, its hunger will grow and drive it mad afresh. If two Tempus Findals enter the same reality, they will locate each other and fight to the death.

A Tempus Findal, if allowed to feed unchecked, will drain a Kaidar Gemain such that they fade out of existence in a reality and, therefore no longer exist in all realities. They become a sad, forlorn creature called a Gogol and fade from existence.

These Extra-Planar Entities and many more appear in The League of Elder Book VIII: The Shadow tech Goddess coming soon from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia, Eve Ventrue, Bea Kimura and Fantasio

As League sects go, none have more power or authority than the Sisterhood of Light. They come and go as they please, they take what they want, they have their own police force and their own fleet, and they dictate the course of the League. The Sisters are the de-facto rulers of the League.

There is, however, one very outspoken group that mocks and challenges virtually everything the Sisters do: The Hertogs.

The Hertogs are a loose band of disaffected scholars, chefs, tailors, craftsmen and scientists whose ongoing mission is to bring down the Sisters. They operate in secret, their origins and membership are unknown.

The Hertogs insist the Sisters are bizarre and demented and much more capricious then they publically let on.

The Hertogs insist the Sisters are bizarre and demented and much more capricious than they publically let on.

They first came to general attention in 003120AX when they published a book in the city of Jacarta called: The Real History of the League and of the Elders in Particular written by, mysteriously enough, “The Hertogs”. The book challenged a number of key points in ancient League history as told by the Sisters and presented a much darker history, especially regarding the old, departed Elders. Essentially, the book claimed the League is enslaved to the Sisters, claimed they are bizarre and demented, and called for an end to their reign. Predictably, the Sisters reacted badly to the publication, censuring the publisher and calling for an “open debate” with the Hertogs to cover the key points made in the book.

The Hertogs were a no-show to the debates. Instead, they circulated a number of pamphlets claiming the Sisters intended to smoke them out into the open, capture and most probably torture them to death.

Since then the Sisters have gone on a quiet, but persistent, campaign to discover the identity of the Hertog membership. Unfortunately, the Hertogs appear to be adept at avoiding the Sisters’ vaunted Stare as, so far, they have yet to uncover a single one. They suspected Grand Dame Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, EVoR of the University of Dee as being a key member, but they could not prove her involvement. Their search continues.

Hannah-Ben Shurlamp is frequently associated with the Hertogs, though her direct involvement is not proved.

Hannah-Ben Shurlamp is frequently associated with the Hertogs, though her direct involvement is not proved.

The Hertogs are seldom quiet. They publish frequent comments and critiques, usually blasting the latest Sisterhood proclamations. They once, famously, shot holes in a simple article written by a Sister proclaiming her fondness for the lunch menu at the Empire Hotel in St. Edmunds. Such childish antics, their tendency toward paranoia and hyperbole, and their unwillingness to come out into the open tends to lessen their impact and gives the general League populace pause. They are considered to be an interesting, if not entirely credible, voice in the regular postings not to be taken too seriously.

There is word that the Hertogs produced a groundbreaking work called The Splendor of the Vith detailing the considerable power the Vith peoples of Northern Kana once possessed and how the Sisters waged a successful bloodless war to rid them of it. This book, if true, would be particularly damning and could lead to the downfall of the Sisters. So far, the existence of the book is a mere rumor and no copies are publically available to be read.

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips and Eve Ventrue

It’s odd. I’ve been working on the latest LoE manuscript: The Shadow tech Goddess for almost three years. It’s been, by far, the longest slog I’ve ever had in writing a book.

"Carahil's Busy Morning" (Artwork by Carapaulo)

“Carahil’s Busy Morning” (Artwork by Carapalou)

And then, there’s Carahil’s Busy Morning, a children’s book I decided to write on a lark which took me about five minutes to finish.

Well, not so fast, let me explain…

I’d learned a few things going to shows over the years. One: books that really sell are YA and children’s. I hate to say it, but that does seem to be the case. Most of the people browsing around are parents looking to buy a book for their kids. My science fiction books (richly illustrated by Carol Phillips) tend to catch the eye, People passing by often stop, pick one up, and ask “Are these books for kids?”

Kids?? Of course I could have lied and said “Sure … kids will love these.” My LoE series is not for kids–too much violence, too much darkness floating around. It is what it is.

But then I thought about it. One character that is a continual ray of fresh light in the series is Carahil, the Great Nargal Spirit and patron god of the House of Blanchefort. Just a big kid himself, Carahil would do well in a children’s series, and if I ever got around to writing one he would be the subject matter. I put that thought on the back burner and let it simmer.

Carahil and Mabs beginning their life together (Carol Phillips)

Carahil and Mabs beginning their life together (Carol Phillips)

Over time, I wondered about Carahil and his jolly face emblazoned in the pages of a kid’s book. What would the book be about? Would kids understand Carahil’s supernatural origins? Would they identify with his cosmic, star-faring ways?

It occurred to me that all the weirdness in the world really doesn’t matter much, as long as there is a familiar framework in which to paint and give it perspective. And, what could be more familiar than a nuclear family setting–a father, a mother, the kids and all the pressures and situations that come along with such a setting. A family of odd creatures in space is really just the same as the family next door. I began thinking about Carahil’s family.

I knew that Carahil had taken up with Mabsornath, the Cat Goddess seen in LoE Book II: The Hazards of the Old Ones. Mabs was actually the main bad guy in the book, plotting the destruction of the planet Xandarr. Being the straight shooter that he is, Carahil managed to turn Mabs around. In the end, they became close, eventually committing themselves to each other and mutually sharing their secrets (a very big deal among the gods). As the LoE Series progresses, we see Mabs pregnant, and, eventually, the proud mother of seven children. In a vision, Captain Davage and Countess Sygillis see them playing at her feet.

Atha, as a sultry adult and as an innocent child (Fantasio and Carapalou)

Atha, as a sultry adult and as an innocent child (Fantasio and Carapalou)

That’s all I had, Carahil’s children aren’t seen again … until I began writing The House of Bloodstein. In the Temple of the Gods on Xandarr, Lord Kabyl, Lady Sarah and Lord Phillip of Blanchefort go seeking Carahil’s help. Instead of Carahil emerging, a tall, sultry woman with short blonde hair and a glowing visor over her eyes appeared. I immediately knew who it was: Atha, the youngest daughter of Carahil. Unlike her father, Atha is a mysterious and somewhat ominous presence. Her motives are unclear. To prove to Kay that she is in fact Carahil’s daughter, she takes him to Carahil’s Gift Shop in 1000 Carahil Park and shows him a children’s book where she is depicted as a little girl in Carahil’s household. The book was a light-hearted family farce called “Carahil’s Busy Morning” where Atha, as a precocious kid, tends to stir up innocent trouble.

So, then I had it, all at once. I had the characters and I had the setting. In five minutes of working on my manuscript, I also dreamed up a 1000 word story of Carahil and Mabs raising their seven children at the Top of the Universe, encountering surprises, and teaching their kids important lessons. It was the easiest writing I’ve ever done. It just felt right.

Dreaming something up and writing it down is the easy part, turning it into a living, breathing story is hard. As it’s only a 1000 words, the story would need to be driven by the artwork, and that would take an artist of exceptional skill. My good friend BeaKimera, an amazing Manga artist and a representative of many others soon had the solution. Bea embraced this project and showed real enthusiasm. She had a whole portfolio of artists for me to look at, all of whom were immensely talented–one, though, was the clear choice, with a clean Manga style and a flair for story-telling: Carapalou.

Seven months and a lot of hard work later, here we are with a finished book, each page a masterpiece. The end of a long, hard road in publishing is an ISBN and a barcode. CBM now has those things and I can’t wait to share it with the world.

Carahil’s Busy Morning will be available in late June from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia, Carapalou, Fantasio and Carol Phillips.