Melazarr of Caroline is a frequent character in the various Shadow tech Goddess books. Her character varies wildly  from one book to the next. She almost always dies in the books.

25th DAUGHTER OF WILHELMINA

Melazarr of Caroline (painting by Kayla Woodside)

Melazarr of Caroline (painting by Kayla Woodside)

In all of the books, Melazarr’s lineage and general appearance are the same. She is an heiress of the Xaphan House of Caroline, born in the vast halls of Wilhelmina Castle. She is the 25th daughter of the current line. She has one father and ten mothers–the Carolines often indulge in the practice of gene-splicing to produce the most desirable of children. One genetic flag the Carolines always opt for is the potential for Arcane-Interface.

As familial giantism is common in the Carolines, Melazarr is a gigantic woman, standing 7’1 and weighing over 300 pounds of soild bone and muscle. She is typically very lank and skinny, hiding her impressive weight. Her hair is a fawnish-blonde color, though she often paints it green or blue.

She is a Tropist, skilled in creating sexual pleasure merely by touching non-erogenous parts of the body.

A MERTEN:

Melazarr is also always an Extra-Planar Entity known as a Merten. A Merten is a person who, for unknown reasons, carries important messages from the Universe. A Merten is never aware of carrying these messages, and, extracting them is most often fatal to the Merten. When in the presence of a person known as the Kaidar Gemain, a Merten will fall into a trance speak, sing, or draw out the message they carry. Others seeking the messages would have to extract them via sex, burning, torture or drowning. Mertens often die divulging the information they carry.

Melazarr, drugged and on a trance, is the Tropist of Rodrigo of Burgon (Painting by Carol Phillips)

Melazarr, drugged and in a trance, is the Tropist of Rodrigo of Burgon (Painting by Carol Phillips)

CHANGEABLE PERSONALITY:

Melazarr’s mannerisms vary greatly from universe to universe.

A Harlot:

In some, she is incredibly shy and insecure in the Court of Wilhelmina amid all her rival sisters, hiding the fact by painting herself in make-up and wearing bolabungs designed to make her fierce and  confident. All “bunged Up”, Melazarr presents herself as an outrageous and rather debauched woman, reveling in Xaphan society. Often finding herself in dangerous situation, the VERY MARY, a garter belt that teleports a Caroline maiden back to the ancient Ruins of Caroline on Kana when she finds herself in mortal peril. Melazarr has turned up in the Ruins a record 57 times.

A Bound Tropist

In others, she is a bound servant of the notorious  Xaphan Warlord Rodrigo of Burgon. Rodrigo often keeps her drugged into a trance-like stupor and bound to his side by a Chastity Key that has been branded into her neck. With the Chastity Key in place, she cannot venture more than fifty feet from his side. Rodrigo sometimes treats her with kindness, despite keeping her drugged and insensate.

DYING:

Melazarr, no matter her situation, is often killed, either by those attempting to extract the information she carries within, or by accident, misadventure and poor circumstance.

stenibelle_mockup1 CroppedMelazarr of Caroline appears in the League of Elder Book 9: “Stenibelle”, coming soon from Loconeal Publishing.

 

copyright 2015, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips and Kayla Woodside

 

 

 

 

Front Cover of LoE Book 9 (artwork by Carol Phillips)

Front Cover of LoE Book 9 (artwork by Carol Phillips)

It doesn’t happen too often, especially in my case, but on select occasions your own characters can jump up off the page and surprise the heck out of you.

Such was the case with Stenibelle, a character I dreamed up on a lark.

OUT FROM THE DARKNESS:

I was working on The Shadow tech Goddess, a tale dealing with alternate universes and Extra-Planar Entities. Our hero, Paymaster Stenstrom, Lord of Belmont-South Tyrol, had been informed that there are many Wvulgroms. alternate versions of himself running around, all somewhat similar to himself but undeniably different–such is the basis of the entire Shadow tech Goddess storyline. It’s not an unfamiliar concept, we’ve seen it before in various media: fiction, TV, comics, films (the Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror” immediately comes to mind). In many cases, these “alternate entities” are a study in opposites: good vs evil, chaste vs immoral, that sort of thing. In my case I wanted these Wvulgroms (qv=alternate entities) to be merely a product of their circumstance. They can be very different from the character we’ve come to know, or, they might be very similar, it all depends.

Back cover on LoE Book 9, featuring the irascible Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, EVoR (Painting by Carol Phillips)

Back cover of LoE Book 9, featuring the irascible Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, EVoR (Painting by Carol Phillips)

In the case of the Shadow tech Goddess saga, eight different versions of Paymaster Stenstrom are involved. They all have similar experiences: they all served as paymaster aboard the Fleet ship Seeker for Captain Davage, and they all bought the captain’s chair of the Seeker later on. They all had various levels of failure/success in the Seeker Affair, as it was known. Some had no trouble at all securing the Seeker’s chair, some had a bit of rough sledding, others failed spectacularly. One was imprisoned, one was enslaved in a sex pit, and one was killed.

At the end of Book 8, all of these various alternate versions are brought together in the smothering darkness of the Shrine of Boraster on the Planet Eng and sorted out, each sent on their merry way.

As I wrote the final scene, each Wvulgrom was brought forth and presented to the central version of Paymaster Stenstrom–all of them tall and handsome.

And then the 3rd version was presented. As I wrote, my fingers worked the keys all by themselves. The third version presented was a small, comely woman. I had established earlier in the story that the Wvulgroms of Paymaster Stenstrom didn’t all have to be as is, they could be of differing race, of differing species, and, of differing gender. Such was the case here–the 3rd version was a woman named Stenibelle.

Lord A-Ram told him: “In another universe, you are a woman, and you would be most proud of her.”

So, that’s all I had, just an odd revelation that he, somewhere out in the universes, was a she.

STENIBELLE:

Stenibelle accosted by hookers on Hoffman Plate. (painting by Fantasio)

Stenibelle accosted by hookers on Hoffman Plate. (painting by Fantasio)

Shortly after I finished the first draft of the Shadow tech Goddess, I developed the idea of writing a series of smaller, shorter books detailing the activities of the alternate Stenstroms’ as pertaining to the main story. I started writing them all at once, but the one that stood out most in my head was Stenibelle, the female. I began writing a quaint story dealing with Stenibelle’s quest to discover the way to long lost Cammara, an abandoned home-world of the League lost for over 200,000 years. At first, Stenibelle had all of the “It Man” abilities the male versions of Paymaster Stenstrom have: super strength, invulnerability, flight via mind power, and so on. The only thing she couldn’t so was fire the NTH pistols, which require a male-hand to shoot. I wrote her as a demure, considerate woman doing her best for her House under bizarre circumstances.

I quickly got bored with her. Where was the growth? Where was the potential?  I really didn’t see it. I put her down for a long time and moved onto other stories. I considered deleting her altogether.

Stenibelle, Lady of Belmont-South Tyrol (painting by Eve Ventrue)

Stenibelle, Lady of Belmont-South Tyrol (painting by Eve Ventrue)

Then, it occurred to me that I’d been doing Stenibelle a great disservice. There was no depth to her, no agency, no room for personal growth. I’d been treating her with kid gloves, and she, though she had a great deal of power, was essentially helpless, like a princess in a tower.

Time for the gloves to come off. Time for Stenibelle to face the world. I was going to lay her bare and watch her grow into something new–not a perfect person, mind you, not invincible, not a cold, gritty tent-pole character, but a human one, full of successes and failures, remorse and joy, frailty and determination, and the capacity to better herself and her House.

First, I removed all of Stenstrom’s It Man powers. She still possessed all of her skills in Tyrol Sorcery, the vanishing, the lock picking, all of that, but no more super strength, no more flying and  TK’ing. I took away all of the vast sums of money Stenstrom has available to him and made her a pauper.  I also stuck her in prison. I made her angry and unsure of herself. I put her under the sway of powerful people and I addicted her to personality-altering Bolabungs.

Through all of that, Stenibelle had to make do, had to overcome poverty and addiction, had to learn to stand up for herself in the face of powerful people, had to learn to trust and seek help when it was needed, and to come to terms with her own heart. The character that grew before me was quite a welcome surprise, becoming more whole and complete than I has first thought possible.

I put her through a lot, and the person she became is something anybody can relate to and cheer for.

That’s what I was hoping for all along.

League of Elder Book 9: Stenibelle will be available summer 2015 from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2015: Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips, Fantasio, and Eve Ventrue

 

 

 

 

The release of LoE Book 8: “The Shadow tech Goddess” is just around the corner.

Being the eight book is the series, many of the items and weapons appearing in the book have been introduced and covered previously. It’s a persistent issue in a series–how much time should the author devote to going over things that already have been described? You really don’t want to bore a returning reader with the same information and you also don’t want to exclude any new readers.

The person who edited Book 8 had never read any of the previous books and was a bit confused in the beginning. “What’s this” and “what’s that”, she asked in frequent side notes.

I wondered…

I was watching my wife play Mystery Manor, it’s an app on her Ipad that she enjoys. It’s one of those games where you see a lavish static setting filled with unusual objects, and your goal is to find a number of specific objects before time runs out (find the tea cup, find the garden rake, etc). Seeing her play the game, I was struck with inspiration. I envisioned a scene where most of the items and weapons appearing in the book were laid out in one lovely composition. That way, if a reader has a question (for example, “What’s an NTH?”) they can look at the painting and see it first hand. I got Ewelina Dolzycka to paint it for me.

Stenstrom's Office 2

I think it turned out pretty well and covers most of the bases. Some of the objects laid out in the scene are specific to Book 8 alone and have never been seen before.

I had a similar idea previously in a map to the Garden of Horrors, an arcane place visited in the book.

 The Garden of Horrors, by Carol Phillips

The Garden of Horrors, by Carol Phillips

I recalled once visiting a lavish garden in an Egyptian museum during a trip to California. The garden was like a maze filled with hedges arranged like streets, dotted with scented fruiting trees and potted flowering plants. Hidden in the hedges and elsewhere in the garden were a number of small to medium-sized statues depicting various Egyptian deities. A guide told us all the major Egyptian deities were hidden in the garden. They even gave us a small booklet providing clues where they were hidden and spots to check-off when we located them. It was like an egg-hunt locating the statues and we spent all afternoon searching the garden. I don’t think we ever found them all.

I got the idea to include a similar garden in Book 8: the Garden of Horrors, a wondrous place tended by a woman claiming to be the Shadow tech Goddess herself.

stgcover-front

Hidden in the garden were a number of statues depicting the various types of Extra-Planar Entities following Paymaster Stenstrom, the main character. The highlight of the garden was in the center, a hideous monster hidden behind a locked door trying to get at the Paymaster and take his life.

I wish such a garden actually existed, I could spend all day in it.

The Shadow tech Goddess will be out early June, 2014 from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia, Ewelina Dolzycka and Carol Phillips

StG: The ANGRY MISER

April 1, 2014

In the League of Elder series, the family of LosCapricos weapons has been featured since Book 1. Each Great House has its own LosCapricos weapon (LC), and, in the beginning, they were fairly standard, being various varieties of swords, guns, wands and the like. The most often seen LC is the CARG of House Blanchefort, the NTH’s of House Belmont and the SAPP of House Ruthven. (Note–LC weapons are always spelled UPPER CASE–that’s how the Sisters spell them.)

The ANGRY MISER (painting by Ewelina Dolzycka)

The ANGRY MISER (painting by Ewelina Dolzycka)

As the series went on, however, the LC weapons got weirder and weirder. I got tired of the conventional and I reached for the bizarre. Anything that popped into my head no matter how outlandish or improbable could end up being an LC. Such is the ANGRY MISER, one of the oddest contraptions I’ve ever come up with.

The ANGRY MISER is the LC weapon of the Remnath House of Sorranson. The House of Sorranson, by tradition a Household of prosperous merchants, had a long-standing dispute and mistrust of the Standard Bank of the League (SBL). As such, they kept the bulk of the considerable wealth at hand on their various estates in liquid form. Such wealth often attracted the attention of determined thieves and House Sorranson found themselves constantly having to maintain vigilance over their hoards. Finding their technological and hired gun protections unsatisfactory, the House came up with an arcane solution for their problems.

In 0000517AX, House Sorranson created an arcane device intended to tirelessly and vigorously guard their wealth. The ANGRY MISER is a length of taut, thin gauge wire similar to piano wire. It can be as large or as small as required and can be strung up on any post or protrusion.

Hanging from the wire like Christmas ornaments are a variety of arcane pewter trinkets. The most common trinkets hanging from the wire are the Vigilance Charms in the form of roving eyeballs, noses, and ears. The Vigilance charms tirelessly search for intruders, they watch for movement, they listen for unusual sounds and they even distinguish odd smells. They continuously move along the length of the wire and when they strike an obstruction, they double back in the opposite direction.

When a target has been acquired, the charms zoom in, sometimes forming a rudimentary face (Ewelina Dolzycka)

When a target has been acquired, the charms zoom in, sometimes forming a rudimentary face (Ewelina Dolzycka)

When an intruder is detected they are dealt with immediately by the Weaponry Charms in the form of cannons, arrows, mouths and guns. They attack with powerful projectile, laser, energy and other forms of weaponry. The weaponry of the ANGRY MISER can flatten an army if need be. The arcane mouth charms can utter spells and curses, can put one asleep, and turn one into a zombie and so on. Aside from the mouth charms, the weaponry of the ANGRY MISER is invariably meant to kill.

The ANGRY MISER can also keep people confined to a certain space. The Sympathetic Beast Charms are cast in the forms of large animals and fanciful monsters. When the wire is approached or touched, these charms will drop to the ground and immediately grow to full size and attack.

The final type of charms are the Master Charms, usually cast in the likeness of the person or persons who put the ANGRY MISER there in the first place. When the correct conditions are met, these charms will fall to the ground and instantly summon those in the image of the charm wherever they might be.

The ANGRY MISER, though bizarre and rather simple in appearance, is an extremely effective weapon and is quite deadly.

stgcover-frontThe ANGRY MISER appears in LoE Book 8: The Shadow tech Goddess, coming soon from Loconeal publishing.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia and Ewelina Dolzycka

The Tribe of Vith and the history of the League are nearly one in the same, going back hundreds of thousands of years. Tall and Blue, the Vith were the original tribe of the League, the original Sisters were Vith. The first Ex-Commons of the League was mostly composed of Vith Houses, and, in the modern day, most of the enemy Xaphan Houses owe their ancestry to the Vith.

Captain Davage of the House of Blanchefort, a well-known Vith household possessing the Gift of Sight (Carol Phillips)

Captain Davage of the House of Blanchefort, a well-known Vith household possessing the Gift of Sight (Carol Phillips)

HISTORY:

In the old days of the Elders, the Vith acted as their right hand. They flew the cosmos and scouted the heavens for the Elders. When required, they fought the Elder’s battles. For ages, only the austere Vith sect known as the Sisterhood of Light could communicate with the Elders.

Upon arriving at Kana at the beginning of the EX Time Epoch, the other six tribes branched off and differentiated themselves from the Vith and spread out over the rest of the planet leaving the cold north to the core Vith, thus came the beginnings of the League.

THE HAITATHE HORDES:

In the early days of the EX, the Elders introduced a savage and giant-sized alien race to Kana, hoping to strengthen the Vith bloodlines and enlarge them in size. Unfortunately, the hermaphroditic Haitathe Hordes turned on the League and waged near constant war on the Vith, hoping to both enslave and devour them. In later centuries, the Haitathe would turn to the east and attack the Tribe of Esther.

GIFTS OF THE MIND:

As the Vith suffered under the lash of the Haitathe, The Elders realized they had made a grave error in introducing the Haitathe to Kana. In order to strengthen the Vith, the Elders bestowed upon them six Gifts of the Mind. These powerful Gifts (Strength, Waft, Cloak, Dirge, Stare, Sight) indeed saved the Vith and allowed them fight back against the Haitathe and turn them from the north. The Elders marked the old Vith with the Gifts Blue, with blue hair, eyes and skin. The other tribes greatly desired the Gifts of the Mind and attempted to marry into the Vith to acquire them via genetics. Vith lacking the Gifts became known as Cyans.

THE HEROES OF THE VITH:

The Coat of Arms of the House of Blanchefort. The Rose has been a common symbol of the Vith for centuries. Also, the image of a Haitathe Warrior can be found on many Vith CoA's. (Carol Phillips)

The Coat of Arms of the House of Blanchefort. The Rose has been a common symbol of the Vith for centuries. Also, the image of a Haitathe Warrior can be found on many Vith CoA’s. (Carol Phillips)

Some of the greatest heroes of Vith antiquity emerged during this time with the Haitathe. The League needed heroes, and the Vith provided them in earnest. There was the mighty Homma of Telmus Falls and his queen, the gigantic Emmira the Swordless. Of their children, Lennibus and Terfal ended the Haitathe influence in the north. Their sister Subra of the Mark was the first Vith female in history to be able to harness Shadow tech. Another of their children became notable for a different reason: Magravine became the infamous Black Abbess, leader of the Black Hat Sisterhood. There was also the famous Holt of the Mountain, a Vith Cyan (no Gifts) who defeated the Haitathe using nothing but guile.

THE SPLENDOR OF THE VITH:

Vith Bowerchests were once common in Kana and symbolized the Splendid Age of the Vith. Eventually, through guile, the Sisters ridded the Vith of them and they were forgotten in time. (Carol Phillips)

Vith Bowerchests were once common in Kana and symbolized the Splendid Age of the Vith. Eventually, through guile, the Sisters ridded the Vith of them and they were forgotten in time. (Carol Phillips)

After the Haitathe were defeated and generally removed from Kana, the Vith enjoyed several centuries of unrivaled success. The Vith Households attacked and conquered other non-Vith Households and expanded their influence to out-worlds such as Hoban and Planet Fall. They were flush with their Gifts and became potent with Gellar Magic–as they captured priceless and arcane items for themselves. They became extremely powerful, even more so than the Sisters. They kept their most prized possessions in their great Bowerchests, animated treasure vaults crafted in the shape of great beasts, and the skies over Vithland once shone with their wings and the land trembled with their passing. The Sisters, in concert with the other six tribes, conspired to de-power the Vith, and, over time, were successful and rid Kana of their Bowerchests.

ATTRIBUTES OF THE MODERN VITH:

The Vith are loyal and brave and always eager to meet a challenge. They are honest to a fault and will go to great lengths to keep a promise. They are said to be immune to the cold of the north, and are fearless as well.

They are characteristically tall and lean. The “Blue” traits of the old Vith have mostly been suppressed by inter-marrying with other bloodlines, however Vith blue-eyes and blue hair still exists in some Households. Many Xaphan Households still show the “Blue” traits.

The Vith language for a time was headed to extinction, however modern efforts to bring it back into use has met with success.

Most Vith Households mint their own currency. Vith currency is known as the hader and is usually on-par with SBL solaris.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

StG: The Order of Lacerta

January 29, 2014

Every organization, no matter how well run and organized, has its disaffected membership, and the Sisterhood of Light is no exception.

Member of the Order of Lacerta (Carol Phillips)

A member of the Order of Lacerta (Carol Phillips)

It is a little-known fact that the Sisterhood of Light occasionally has a problem with its Sisters going missing. The Sisters live a stern life. They deny themselves the luxury of good foods and nice fabrics, they sleep on slabs and train their formidable minds nearly all day long.

Understandably select members sometimes tire of it–they fall and flee from the sect. Most of the time they are quickly caught and punished by the Sisters at Twilight 4, never allowed to leave the confines of their strongholds again. Occasionally, they managed to evade capture and drift about the League like a refugee. The safest place from them to go is Xaphan Space. There, they stake out their territory and become members of a Shadowy group known as the Order of Lacerta. In the mythology of the League, Lacerta of the Midnight was the youngest daughter of Homma, and she often fled from his side.

The Order of Lacerta is a dark inverse image of the Sisterhood of Light. The “Lacertas” are everything the Sisters are not. They love wearing rich clothing and eating tasty foods (It is a fallacy that they only wear black–they often enjoy dressing in gaudy colors). They become obsessed with tobacco, illegal drugs, menthols and sex. They learn to use their mouths (the Sisters themselves never speak), and they love using profanity. They also have none of the inhibitions of the Sisterhood and often hire themselves out as mercenaries and bodyguards, using the money they make to fuel their addictions. A Lacerta is, without question, one of the most dangerous enemies one can face. Using their minds, they are impossibly strong, they can kill with a glance, they can scatter whole armies with a wave of their hand. Their power does, however, fade over time, though even a greatly de-powered Lacerta is very dangerous. Apparently the Sister’s power partially comes from the disciplined lives they lead.

One of Paymaster Stenstrom's most persistent enemies is a Lacerta who, seemingly, won't die. (Eve Ventrue)

One of Paymaster Stenstrom’s most persistent enemies is a Lacerta who, seemingly, won’t die. (Eve Ventrue)

Their influence in Xaphan Space is very localized and never far-reaching. The Sisters continue to hunt for them, and, when captured, they are re-taken to the League. They also tend to fight amongst themselves as they vie for wealth and power and duels between Lacertas are frequent–it is said they wage their duels on an uninhabited planet free from onlookers or distractions. They also become enslaved to their addictions and often fall to them over time. The wealth they amass tends make them irresistible targets for Xaphan Warlords to attack and plunder. With the prospect of rich spoils in the offing, Xaphans will team-up and spend years planning their attack. Such planning is crucial as Lacertas are deadly opponents.

The Xaphan House of Midas invented a deadly device specifically to assassinate Lacertas and Black Hats called a “Hemolizer“. Forged of metals that can pass through a Lacerta’s TK field, a hemolizer can kill a Lacerta or a Black Hat in minutes.

stgcover-front It certainly isn’t easy being a Lacerta. See a particularly vile and foul-mouthed Lacerta in “The Shadow tech Goddess”, coming soon from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia, Eve Venture and Carol Phillips.

This is the part I hate. This is the part where everything’s turned in, the cover is done, the artwork is (mostly) done, and the only thing left to do is wait for the thing to hit the shelves.

stgcover-front“The Shadow tech Goddess” took me four years to write, and, during that time it went through a number of different incarnations and intentions. I had at first wanted to publish her after Book 2: The Hazards of the Old Ones. She just didn’t feel right–I was floundering around with the concept and, frankly, got a little lost. I decided to focus my energies instead on the Temple of the Exploding Head trilogy, which was bursting out of my head at the time (I always seem to have a Main WIP going, and one in the fire at the same time. The Shadow tech goddess was always “in the fire”, never quite hot enough to be worked and shaped into something useful). Once the Temple was done, then I’d finish up the Goddess. I promised myself that.

I just didn’t have a good grasp of the story even though years had passed. What was the story I wanted to tell?? What interesting concepts would I introduce? I didn’t know.

I was still stuck.

Putting it aside, I decided to finish up the Sands of the Solar Empire, and then I’d get to the Goddess.

Time passed. Sands and Against the Druries came and went. I intended to concentrate on the House of Bloodstein–a tale dealing with my old favs, Lord Kabyl and Sam, the new ne-countess of the House of Blanchefort. Once again the Goddess eluded me and settled into the less swift current of my brain. My publisher, James Barnes, asked me what titles I’d have ready for 2014, if any. I had it in my head to say “House of Bloodstein”, but my mouth rebelled and said “Shadow tech Goddess” instead. James took it and ran.

And so, I was committed with a WIP that had whipped me into submission for years.

The "Back Cover" of The Shadow tech Goddess, with blurb. Enlarge to read text

The “Back Cover” of The Shadow tech Goddess, with blurb

THE LOVES OF PAYMASTER STENSTROM:

I think my issue all along was boredom. I was bored with Paymaster Stenstrom and his presumptive fiancée, Lady Gwendolyn of Prentiss. I love creating relationships, and, Gwen seemed to be the winner in this case, what else was there to write about?? I got it into my head that I wanted to write about different loves–lots of them, each one full of hidden possibilities. I greatly value loyalty in a hero–a hero to me must be, above all else, loyal and trustworthy. So–how could I have Stenstrom indulge in many torrid relationships and have him remain loyal at the same time??

Alternate realities was the answer, and, once I came to grips with that idea the rest was easy. I dreamed of arcane devices and Extra-Planar entities. New corners of the League opened up to me and places never seen danced in my head. Eventually, after a writing binge, I had seven stories ready to go, each dealing with a different love of Paymaster Stenstrom, or “The Turns of The Shadow tech Goddess“. Central to the Turns is the main story which begins and ends in one book. In the book are mentions and casual asides of characters and situations that are not covered to any great degree. Did I make a mistake? Did I pick up an interesting plot thread only to forget about it pages later? No way! They are covered in the six novella-sized stories which are related to the main story. The novellas detail important events which help to bring the main book to be, a la, the hand behind the stage pulling a rope that draws the curtain. Lord A-Ram and Lady Alesta of the Pilgrims of Merian serve as guides shuttling between the books. They often disappear in StG–they are off assisting the “other” Paymaster Stenstroms.

Stenibelle_IISTENIBELLE:
In an alternate universe, Paymaster Stenstrom is not a man and his House is on the verge of extinction. The disgraced 30th daughter of the House of Belmont will either be the final stake driven into its dying heart, or the ray of light that comes to save it.

MELAZARR
Can a crass, foul-mouthed Xaphan woman from Caroline actually be the vessel carrying information that can save all things? Paymaster Stenstrom struggles to keep her alive and, discovers in the process, the amazing woman hidden under her bravado.

ATD 5TAARA
Tiny Taara de la Anderson is Stenstrom’s right hand, always loyal and brave. Does she dream of different things, and how far will she go to get what she wants?

KAT
He felt her claws raking his chest in the cold of the Clovis ruins, and now here she is again at his throat. Who is Kat, and can she believed? What demands does she make of him? The Shadow tech Goddess comes to call on an old debt.

THE ALL-IN-ONE
He awakens in a pit and is the slave of the Lacerta. He hears many voices in his head and remembers many things he himself has never done. He is all aspects of himself, yet he is none of them. He can try to escape the Lacerta’s pit, but, where will he go? Is he better off dangling in the dark dreaming of things other people have done?

THE TEMPUS FINDAL
Of all creatures, the Tempus Findal is the most horrid. She believes she has her own place at last where her insidious power will not destroy. The Gods of Cammara will give her no rest and might undermine all she has attempted to build.

The Shadow tech Goddess will be out March 2014 from Loconeal Publishing. The novellas will be published approximately every three months afterward.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia

StG: The Hall of Mirrors

December 27, 2013

The next book in the League of Elder series, “The Shadow tech Goddess” deals with extra-planar activity, the crossing of one plane of reality to another. A key concept when dealing with “reality-jumping” is a place called The Hall of Mirrors. The Hall of Mirrors is heavily featured in the book.

The Hall of Mirrors is the threshold from one plane of reality to another. If one wishes to cross into another plane of reality, one must first cross through the Hall of Mirrors, and that is not a simple task. Jumping from one reality to the next is dangerous to the well-being of the universe as a whole and the Hall exists to actively prevent such a thing, and, possibly to punish or eliminate those attempting to do so. It is not a naturally occurring phenomena, however its creators and custodians are unknown.

SUMMONING THE HALL:
It is possible to summon the Hall of Mirrors to oneself via technological, arcane and telepathic means. Those consciously seeking to pass through the Hall tend to draw its wrath much more than those who unconsciously summon it via telepathic means.

AN UNFASTNESS IN SPACE AND TIME:

Map of the Hall of Mirrors, by Ewelina Dolzycka

Lord A-Ram’s hand-drawn map of the Hall of Mirrors, by Ewelina Dolzycka

The Hall of Mirrors has no set appearance or size, yet it has a rigid set of characteristics which, no matter what it looks like or how big it is, are always present. It has no set location or place of habitation and can appear anywhere given the correct circumstances. The accepted rules of time and space do not apply when within the Hall. Time might stop when inside the Hall, or ages may pass.

It has two specific parts, the Hall of Mundane and the Hall of Possibilities

THE HALL OF MUNDANE:
The Hall of Mundane (HM) is the entry point to the Hall. It is where one came from and almost always where one exits. Given the changeable nature of the Hall, it is very difficult to know when one is inside the HM and when one is not. Some people, be it intentionally or unintentionally, have the ability to summon the Hall of Mirrors to them and spend a great deal of their lives rolling about within the HM, blissfully unaware of where they are. People with his ability are known as Mirrorbrugs and are valuable commodities to those who actively seek to penetrate the Hall.

The HM is a safe portion of the Hall of Mirrors. Moving about in it does not trigger the potent defenses lurking in the second part of the Hall: The Hall of Possibilities.

THE HALL OF POSSIBILITIES:
The next section of the Hall of Mirrors is the Hall of Possibilities (HP). Like the previous Hall, it too has no set appearance and can look like anything, however, those actively seeking to pass through it often describe the HP as looking like a dank stone corridor running to the left and right. To the left is the next plane of reality and the exit of the Hall. To the right is the chamber of a destructive entity known as the Shadow tech Goddess. The Shadow tech Goddess is the main defense of the Hall and those entering the HP invariably stir her up and draw her ire.

THE ANATAMETER:

Extra-Planar Entities, like the dreaded Tempus Findal, are immune to the defenses in the Hall of Mirrors and pass through as they wish (Fantasio).

Extra-Planar Entities, like the dreaded Tempus Findal, are immune to the defenses in the Hall of Mirrors and pass through as they wish (Fantasio).

Guarding the intersection between the two Halls is a device known as the Anatameter. The Anatameter is the key, the locked door preventing passage from the HM to the HP. With it in place, almost all attempts to pass are thwarted, most do not suspect they were ever in the hall or Mirrors and encountered the Anatameter in the first place. It is not completely foolproof as certain Extra-Planar Entities are able to pass it without notice. The Anatameter devices are created by a skilled set of craftsmen known as the Anamatics. It appears to be the case that the Anatameter takes on the intent of the Anamatic who created it. If they are kind, then the Anatameter will behave in a kind fashion and not harm those trying to pass it. If they are cruel, then bad things will happen to those encountering it, including the unleashing of the Shadow tech Goddess.

CUSTOM ANATAMETERS:
An Anatameter may be created specifically for certain individuals. Anamatics sometimes do this, though the payment they require is said to be quite steep. In such cases, the Hall of Mirrors will be drawn to that person at their peril.

Professor Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, EVoR (Eve Ventrue)

Professor Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, EVoR (Eve Ventrue)

THE NODES OF REALITY:
Within the Hall of Possibilities are alcoves cut into the stone at regular intervals, these are the Nodes of Reality. The function of the Nodes is not well understood. They are thought to be a Minor Defense of the Hall and are invoked when ones gains access to the HP. Some scholars, like Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, EVoR of the University of Dee, speculate that one’s true love or one’s greatest enemy emerge from the Nodes and serve as a passive distraction to those entering the HP.

THE SHADOW TECH GODDESS:
Possibly the least understood facet to the Hall of Mirrors is the entity known as the Shadow tech Goddess. She inhabits the right-hand portion of the Hall of Possibilities and is meant to destroy any attempting to pass through the HP. She is like a coiled-up trap, waiting to strike. There is no known method of defeating her, though it has been speculated that discovering her true identity disarms her to some extent. Occasionally she has been known to continue on out of the Hall of Mundane and destroy everything she encounters, making her a Destroyer of Universes as well. She had been known to become interested in certain individuals and draw them to her–her reasoning behind this is unknown. She is said to wear a helmet completely covering her face and a robe of living Shadow tech.

The Hall of Mirrors appears in LoE Book 8, “The Shadow tech Goddess”, due out February 2014 from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia, Ewelina Dolzycka, Fantasio, and Eve Ventrue

StG: Epochs of Time

December 10, 2013

The history of the peoples making up the modern-day League is an extensive one, going back almost a million years into the cloudy veil of the ancient past. The great bulk of most of that history is lost to the ages, it is a difficult task to remember the past just a few years old, much less a million.

The planet Eng was home to the League in the DX Time Epoch (Carol Phillips)

The planet Eng was home to the League in the DX Time Epoch (Carol Phillips)

The Sisterhood of Light, as prime historians of the League, maintain a narrative of those many years past. Per their accounting of history, the League has been a vagabond people for the bulk of their existence, drifting across the cosmos in servitude to their masters, the eponymous Elders–25 beings of colossal power. The peoples of the League served the Elders, did their bidding, fought their battles and scouted out food for them. The Sisters have broken down the history of the League into six distinct sections, or Epochs of Time. Each Epoch details a different homeworld which housed the Old League for a time and a significant event that occurred.

The Sisterhood of Light and the Elders drove the League across the cosmos in the early days (Eve Ventrue)

The Sisterhood of Light and the Elders drove the League across the cosmos in the early days (Eve Ventrue)

FORCED MIGRATION: The 25 Elders fed upon starlight and could only remain in a certain area for so long before the need to seek new sources of food forced them to move on. The League scouted the starways, looking for suitable places for them to feed, and, once a location was discovered, they would up stakes and migrate across the cosmos leaving everything they had behind.

NOTE–None of the previous League home worlds are currently known, other than what the Sisters have written in their histories. The stellar locations of these fabled places are lost, though various scholars vigorously seek them.

All years measured in Kanan Standard.

AX EPOCH–The Beginning: The Sisterhood tells on an ancient place called Earth where the peoples of the League originated from. Some say the eclectic fashions of the League, the languages they speak, and a smattering of other traditions are hold-overs from mythical long lost Earth. The Sisters recount that the Elders took the peoples of the League from Earth and journeyed with them across the heavens to a place called Lemmuria where they served the Elders for 200,000 years.

BX EPOCH–The Age of Riches: The Elders journey to the fabled world of Emmira to begin the BX Epoch. The Sisters recount that Emmira was a paradise and the League matured and grew in its light. The Sisters as a sect first formed on Emmira. They remained there for 90,000 years.

CX EPOCH–The Age of Youth and Health: After Emmira was Cammara, a place of towering clouds and cities in the sky. While on Cammara, the Elders rewarded their League servants and engineered out the ravages of age and sickness, essentially making them young throughout their lives. It is rumored that the Elders also made them immortal as well, though the Sisters dispute that assertion. Darker texts talk of the Gods of Cammara, the people who live forever guarding the gateways of the Universe and the oceans of the dead. The League remained on Cammara for 157,000 years.

The Monama peoples of southern Kana are not Old League--they are indigenous to Kana and were incorporated into the League in the EX Epoch.

The Monama peoples of southern Kana are not Old League–they are indigenous to Kana and were incorporated into the League in the EX Epoch.

DX EPOCH–The Weakening of the Elders: After Cammara was Eng, a cold and somewhat hostile place. There, the Elders grew weak and sick, seeing their time coming to an end. One Eng, the Elders once again attempted to bio-engineer the League, this time with the alien Haitathe race plucked from an unknown world. Their goal was to create a larger, stronger League Elder. While on Eng, the peoples of the League spilt into the Seven Tribes that exist today. An Eighth Tribe was said to have existed and been banished by the Sisters for chaotic behavior. The Old League shivered on Eng for 188,000 years.

EX EPOCH: The End of the Elders, coming of the Xaphans: After hostile Eng came golden Kana. Here the Elders died and passed into lore. With their passing, the League was lost and without guidance. The Seven tribes fought against each other and the Haitathe hoards feasted on their flesh. The Sisters managed to calm the League, to focus it, forging the roots of the modern star-faring League.

Several millennia after the passing of the Elder, the Xaphans came. The Xaphans were creatures similar to the Elders, though they were cruel and bizarre, demanding sacrifice and death. The League vowed to fight the Xaphans and thwart them.

The EX Epoch lasted 145,000 years.

Princess Marilith of Xapndarr--a wild, uncivilized member of Xaphan royalty, ever at odds with the League (Carol Phillips)

Princess Marilith of Xandarr–a wild, uncivilized member of Xaphan royalty, ever at odds with the League (Carol Phillips)

AX EPOCH: The Great Betrayal and the Modern League: In the Great Betrayal, 20 Households abandoned the League and went to the Xaphans, becoming their servants. The Sisters decided to end the EX Epoch and start again with the second AX Epoch. The years have seen much strife with the League pitted against the Xaphans, constantly engaged in warfare. Still, in the AX Epoch, the peoples of the League, and the Xaphans as well, have blossomed as a collective entity, growing and finding their own way. On Kana and the surrounding League worlds, they have built a home at long last.

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia, Eve Ventrue, 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