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Roethaba of George, by Carol Phillips

Among the many new characters introduced in the upcoming House of Bloodstein books is the mysterious Xaphan Marist Roethaba of George.

 

Roethaba, for a number of reasons, is truly an enigma, so much so, even her very existence comes into question.

CONSUMED BY SICKNESS??

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Roethaba is often in the presence of her bodyguard, Hruntha, a Haitathe warrior. (Painting by Eve Ventrue)

Per the Book of Xaphan, Roethaba  was born in 3273 (or 003486AX in League designation) as the 5th daughter in the Court of George, a favored, gentile branch of the House of Burgon. Her mother, Marist Styxa of Burgon, was said to have snuck into a League ball and cuckolded with a Vith lord named Lord Mauro of Bloodstein. Two years later, Roethaba was the result, a beautiful, golden-haired girl, and she was given to the Court of George, who were lacking in females. A retelling of the story insists that Styxa gave birth to twin daughters, Roethaba, and Lady Chrysania of Bloodstein.

 

Roethaba’s young adulthood is very sketchy, with stories wildly varying. One story has her going to school in Midas before becoming an A-List Marist, other stories claim she was deathly sick as a child, inflicted with the genetic scourge of flesh rotting, an inherited defect brought on by the Burgon’s habit of eating human flesh.  Other stories claim she was sustaining herself via arcane methods at the expense of her twin sister, Lady Chrysania of Bloodstein; her rivalry with her sister is a common thread in her narrative, be it arcane or social.  In any event, Roethaba was considered a stunningly beautiful woman, long sought after by many Xaphan Warlords.

A CYBERLING??

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Roethaba is friends with the notorious Willhella Cormand-Grande, the Made Black Hat of Waam (Painting by Eve Ventrue)

If anything, Xaphans love stories, and any Warlord or Marist of note have their life history extensively chronicled by people known as “Daemonesses“.

 

Roethaba’s history was compiled by a Deamoness named Sysaphaea Marx (or, in League designation: of Marx). As she worked, Sysaphea ran into a significant problem. Though Roethaba was notorious for her love affairs, her expensive tastes, her scandals, her Haitathe bodyguard, her friendships with a number of Black Hats, including Wilhella Cormand-Grande, the Mad Black Hat of Waam, she could find no tangible proof Roethaba of George had ever been to any of the places she was said to have been. In fact, she could find few credible people would could say that they’d ever seen her in the flesh other than from a distance. Sysaphaea had seen her several times at various social functions, but could never get close to her or be granted an audience. Her 10 foot tall bodyguard Hruntha, would allow her no admittance–were it not for the bodyguard’s presence, she would seem like a ghost. She began to suspect that Roethaba of George was a Cyberling, a fictitious person with an extensive made-up history making her seem real, hiding some vast secret. She suspected the League was involved, possibly perpetrating some grand conspiracy in Xaphan society.

In her digging, Sysaphaea wrote that she found a hazy link at a ruined temple once dedicated to a dead goddess, Anabrax, the Goddess of Fertility. In the temple was a fading mural connecting Roethaba, Lady Chrysania and an old dictator from the early days of the Xaphan empire named Queen Ghome of Trimble–their faces were all there, painted together.  What that connection is, Sysaphaea never found out, as she dissapeared without trace, never having finished her work, leaving only incomplete hints as to what she had stumbled onto.

For now, Roethaba of George continues to make headlines and break hearts across the Xaphan empire for her outrageous behavior, still ever elusive and full of mystery.

bloodstein-purple CroppedRoethaba of George appears in the League of Elder, Book 10–The House of Bloodstein from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2016, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips, and Eve Ventrue

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Queen Ghome and her Attendants (Painting by Fantasio)

The Xaphans, if anything, are great lovers of stories. Though smaller and not nearly as old as the League, Xaphan lore is rife with shadowy characters and hidden places whispered into anxious ears in the insane courts of Burgon, George and Midas.

 

One such name is that of Queen Ghome, a favorite in Xaphan Society. Her name is familiar on multiple worlds, her likeness is seen in any number of statues and  paintings hanging in Xaphan museums, even an entire class of battleships was name in her honor, her name conjuring up images of strength, tenacity and endurance.

Who was Queen Ghome? Was she a real person of antiquity, or is she simply a colorful figure of lore, more myth than reality? What deeds is she attributed with to earn her such a ready place in Xaphan culture?

Queen Ghome first came to light in Xaphan history thousands of years prior when she claimed the hand of Queen Xo of Trimble during the Night of Centenos when many came from across the Xaphan Empire to court and win her love. In the early days of the Xaphans, one of the first planets colonized and established as a Vith stronghold was Trimble, therefore the opportunity to claim its throne was clamored for by many. To the shock of all attending, it was an unknown woman milling in the crowds who claimed Xo’s hand, becoming Queen Ghome, ushering in the brief age of the Two Queens of Trimble.

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The Two Queens of Trimble. Queen Ghome (on the left) began her practice of wearing horns after she claimed the throne. Note the floating Garden of Zama in the sky.(Painting by Fantasio)

Who was Queen Ghome? Many suspected she was a refugee from the League, with s0me even saying she had once been a prisoner of the hated Sisterhood of Light. Many thought she was a sorceress. With the sudden death of Queen Xo less than a year into their marriage, Queen Ghome would not remain an unknown for long. She ruled Trimble with an iron fist for over six-hundred years, slaying millions, putting her people to the lash and instigating any number of small to medium-sized skirmishes with both the Xaphans and the League.

 

THE WOMAN OF A THOUSAND FACES

Bloodthirsty tyrants and deadly potentates are no strangers to the Xaphan Empire. They come and go quite often, many forgotten to the ages once they’re forced from power and executed. Queen Ghome, though, was no ordinary tyrant. Everything about her was strange and fanciful, worth story-telling. For one, those in attendance in her court reported that her appearance varied wildly from day to day, sometimes from hour to hour. Elias of Sorrander, a mystic known for her ability to see through elaborate Cloaks, was a frequent guest in Queen Ghome’s court in the early days of her reign. She often wrote that Queen Ghome’s frequent changes in appearance, including hair color, general features, size and skin tone, appeared to not be a Cloak, rather her changes appeared to be quite real. She also wrote the one sure way to tell for certain when one was in the presence of Queen Ghome was to look into her eyes: red and piercing, like the eyes of a demon.

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Horns and deadly red eyes were a frequent Queen Ghome attribute. (Painting by Carol Phillips)

Elias also wrote of Ghome’s other body changes she often indulged in. She was known to flit about the towers of Centenos Castle with a leathery pair of wings, sometimes peeking through the windows of guestrooms in the upper floors.

The thing most commented on was Queen Ghome’s tendency to appear to her subjects wearing horns. Horns of various sizes, shapes and colors. Many who visited Trimble mentioned Ghome’s horns, though a few wrote that she wore a horned helmet instead of sporting real horns.

THE SUITORS:

As Queen Xo had sought a suitor to the throne of Trimble, so too did Queen Ghome, though, to be a suitor for her hand meant facing death. Over many years, she put to death countless suitors, robbed and tortured others, and humiliated the rest. She often enjoyed making her less-favored suitors stroll through her deadly Garden of Zama where a host of carnivorous plants she had cultivated, lurked in wait for an easy meal. She never did take a husband, and many of the enemies she made during that time would lead to her eventual downfall.

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Queen Ghome was said to have command of a great beast that guarded her vast wealth. She often used this beast against her enemies. (Painting by Carol Phillips)

AN IMMORTAL??

 

In all, three women named Ghome ruled Trimble over six hundred years. Ghomes I and III were very similar in temperament to the point of being interchangeable, while Ghome II was considered a genuine saint. Ghome II also abjured the practice of wearing horns and changing her face. Still, scribes on Trimble often speculated that Ghomes I, II and III were the same woman, with Ghome II being under a spell that changed her brutish nature to a more benevolent one.

THE BMQ

The people of Trimble living under Ghome’s lash never forgot about poor Queen Xo, whom they believed was murdered. An underground sect grew in the province of St Georges called the Brotherhood of the Murdered Queen, dedicated to the overthrow and prosecution of Queen Ghome. Ghome and the BMQ were constant antagonists. Ghome’s assassins, the Mensada, often smoked the BMQ out of their hiding places and slayed them only to see the sect rise again elsewhere. Ghome was also said to command a giant metal beast that was unstoppable in battle whom she used to slay the BMQ.

Conversely, Ghome’s ruthless and capricious rule was unsustainable, nearly toppling her from the Trimble’s throne several times. During these times, she was secretly propped up by the BMQ, as they wished to be the force that toppled Queen Ghome, not economics.

THE BATTLE OF THE TOMB

After six hundred years of rule, Queen Ghome III was finally deposed from the throne by the BMQ, backed by the warlord Vai of Sorrander and his fleet of battleships. Vai’s great grandfather, Wilmer, had been a rejected suitor of hers. After a pitched battle on the floating Garden of Zama, the BMQ defeated Ghome’s forces and sought to capture her. Ghome herself was never found among the dead, leading to speculation that she had escaped Trimble, though, she was never seen or heard from again.

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Mysterious socialite Roethaba of George is often thought to be Queen Ghome in disguise. (Painting by Carol Phillips) 

Xaphan society refused to let her go. Many believed she had in fact escaped the Battle of the Tomb, wearing a different face and is living a more inconspicuous life somewhere, waiting to rise again. Some thought that Baroness Camilla of Sorrander was Queen Ghome in hiding, a rumor she enjoyed perpetuating. Other names bandied about are Millicent of Tuck, Melazarr of Caroline and the elusive Roethaba of George–are all people who be Queen Ghome in disguise.

 

And, it could also be that the venerable Queen Ghome simply died at the Battle of the Tomb, her body buried in a mass grave along with the other victims of that conflict, leaving many to scratch their heads and wonder, her lore simply too delicious to let die.

bloodstein-purple CroppedQueen Ghome’s many secrets are explored in the upcoming House of Bloodstein books, from Loconeal Publishing

copyright 2016, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips and Fantasio

 

 

 

HOB Legends: Menk

February 7, 2016

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Menk with its Blood Box in the background (Ewelina Dolzycka)

 

Menks are evil spirits often tasked to guard various objects or treasures. They appear in the upcoming LOE Book 10/11: The House of Bloodstein. Menks are horrific in appearance and fearsome in their power.

 

Menks are fixtures of Vith lore. From Vith Household to Household they are varied in their appearance. Menks can appear as famished, lanky humanoids possessing incredible strength and speed. They may also be part human, part animal, with animal heads, claws, wings, tails, etc. They may also be faceless, handless, and footless with metal hands and feet. Menks show little or no outward intelligence or emotion. They exist simply to stalk and kill any who fall into their gaze.

THE CAUL-DE-MENK

As they are varied in their appearance, Menks are also varied in their mystical origins. The most common method is to be cursed into becoming a Menk by a sorcerer or enchantress, who often use Menks to guard their arcane treasures.  Additionally, according to some, if one has lost something precious and somehow loses their life whist searching, they might be transformed into a Menk, condemned to guard lost treasures for all eternity. Other stories speak of a mystical statue known in the Vith language as a Caul de Menk. Those wishing to protect their hoards place these statues on their grounds, hoping to both scare off the curious, and to collect more Menks. These statues are said to have hollow eyes where the light of the Kanan moons, Elyria and Solon, may shine through. If one beholds the glowing eyes of a Caul de Menk, then one is transformed into a Menk forever.

MENK-SIGN

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Menk, by Fantasio

Some people and animals appears to be pre-destined to become a Menk later on in life. Such people are said to bear Menk-Sign, where their appearance in mirrors, paintings and photographs appear monstrous, becoming more so as the time of their transformation draws nearer. Some people with Menk-Sign take steps to rid themselves of the condition. The waters of the Indigo River on Hoban are thought to slow the process down, removing it completely in some cases. Xaphan Cabalists have rituals to thwart Menk-Sign. Bartering with a Menk, performing some task for it, will also cure the victim.

 

 THE BLOOD BOX

Whatever guise they take, Menks are fearsomely powerful and nearly impossible to bring down. Menks keep their vital organs in a separate place called the Blood Box–how they remain alive without their vitals is a mystery. As such, Menks are virtually indestructible. They can absorb massive amounts of damage and continue to function. Arcane weapons and items can do them harm, but only if vigorously applied.

The best way to defeat a Menk is to locate their Blood Box and destroy their organ hidden within, once that is accomplished, the Menk will die. Menks go to great lengths to hide their Blood Boxes. Their boxes can come in many configurations, from a small jar, to a chest, to a whole shrine-like structure, guarded, in turn, by other Menks. The Blood Box can be hidden far away, buried deep or even located on other planets.  Many times, locating the Blood Box is nothing short of Impossible.

DISEMBODIED HEADS

Menks have the ability to remove their heads from their bodies. They often place their heads in elevated, advantageous positions giving them a wide field of vision. They may also summon the assistance of various evil creatures to carry or fly their heads great distances.

bloodstein-purple CroppedMenks give our heroes everything they can handle and more in the House of Bloodstein books, coming soon from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2016, Ren Garcia, Fantasio and Ewelina Dolzycka

 

 

HOB: The Terror of Mare

October 18, 2015

Through 9 books of the League of Elder series, I’ve explored quite a bit of the League; we’ve been all over Kana, Onaris, Planet Fall and even Bazz. In the upcoming House of Bloodstein books, I wanted to step out of the familiar comfort of the League and take a good hard look at the League’s odd and rather antagonistic celestial neighbor: Xaphan Space. Previously with the Xaphans, we’ve really only explored the great and rather austere city of Waam. so far. As in Waam, I feel free to be as creative and over-the-top as I want, these are  the crazy Xaphans after all, the League is much more cultured and refined.

Planet Mare (with the Goshawk in the foreground). Painting by Ewelina Dolzycka

Planet Mare (with the Goshawk in the foreground). Painting by Ewelina Dolzycka

In the heart of Xaphan Space, tucked into a cove in the roiling tumult of the Great Xaphan Nebula is a lonely world with many names. Most people refer to it as Planet Mare, or simply Mare. It’s a large, terrestrial world with a fully functioning Type 1 ecosystem. It is one of the few habitable worlds in Xaphan Space not requiring decades of costly terraforming. Type 1 Planets are like gold, like hen’s teeth, rare and highly sought after. Being ready to simply land and “move in”, Mare should be a priceless stellar gem, endlessly fought over many generations of greedy Xaphan Warlords eager to colonize it for themselves as a fiefdom.

But, Mare has passed the centuries uninhabited, unconquered. No Xaphan ship has ever landed on its fertile soil, no Xaphan flag has even been driven into its ground, though not for a lack of trying. Many Xaphan Armadas have been assembled and quested to Mare, however, none have been successful and none have ever returned.

 

In 000003AX, The pugnacious House of Sorrander discovered Mare hiding behind the veil of the Great Xaphan Nebula, scanned it to be a Type 1 world, and claimed it as theirs. Without ever having set foot on the world, they fought two major battles in space with the House of Midas, and with their frequent antagonists, the House of Burgon. Depleted after their initial battle with Midas, the Burgons defeated the Sorranders and claimed Mare, naming it after themselves, they then launched a grand Expedition of 10,000 Ships to colonize the world, bringing with them craftsmen and courtesans, singers, clowns, the whole crazy bunch.

The expedition was never heard from again, lost down to the last ship. Assuming the expedition had been attacked and massacred by the Sorranders, the Burgons rallied their forces and subjugated them, laying waste to the original Planet Sorrander in 000006AX. Two years later, the Burgons tried it again, this time with full military escort. The second expedition to colonize Mare also was annihilated, the captain reporting that they were under attack from “something” coming from around the planet itself. Undaunted, the Burgons launched five more major expeditions to Mare, with each being utterly destroyed. The effort so weakened the Burgons, they ceased to be a major Xaphan power for centuries.

With the Burgons out of the way, a number of Warlords from Holly, Caroline, Clovis, Conwell and even the restored House of Sorrander each tried to take Mare, each failing.  The planet developed a justifiably sinister reputation and was given the official name Mare, which, in Vith, means: “Nightmare”.

Something truly terrible hovers over Mare, something that has thwarted every Xaphan hoping to claim it for centuries.

In the House of Bloodstein books, our heroes, the Blancheforts, must quest to Mare to assist their cousin, Lady Chrysania of Bloodstein, and they discover first-hand what is there and that it is not to be trifled with.

 

The House of Bloodstein: Perlamum will be out soon from Loconeal Publishing.

 

copyright 2015, Ren Garcia and Ewelina Dolzycka

 

The League and Fake Sciences

September 7, 2015

Over nine books, I’ve introduced a number of sciences delving into all sorts of odd things.  Of course, I’m not a scientist, and therefore, all the sciences I introduce are pure fantasy. As they are fantasy, I don’t hesitate to make these made-up sciences as bizarre and off the chain as I can.

Here they are in no particular order:

 

GYNOLOGY:

Lady Vendra of Cone, who spent time in a convent on Carina 7, was a suspected Gynologist. (Eve Ventrue)

Lady Vendra of Cone, who spent time in a convent on Carina 7, was a suspected Gynologist. (Eve Ventrue)

The science of maiming, enslaving and killing men is practiced on the dark, remote world of Carina 7. The ladies inhabiting Carina 7 are the descendants of the haremites of the Emperor King of Ming-Moorland. After centuries of being tormented by the Emperor, the ladies of Carina decided to turn the tables to some extent and created a whole science dedicated to enslaving, fighting and killing men. Any lone man who happened to make his way to the stony surface of Carina often found himself an unwilling victim and test subject as they refined their techniques.

Eventually, Gynology became a well-honed and proved science. A trained Gynologist, armed with a host of man-killing weapons, could effectively control men using various scents and an insidious device known as “The Barb”. A “Barbed” male would be enthralled to the Gynologist for the rest of his life, however long that lasted.

The Sisterhood of Light took a secretive interest in Gynology and managed to replicate some of its various tenets. What the Sisters do with this incorporated knowledge is currently unknown.

 

ANTHECARY:

Anthecary is a mind/body enhancement technique practiced on Onaris, particularly in the south Calverland region. Onaris’ majestic Lone Rider Mountain is the home of the Stoutback, a huge, six-legged lizard the locals have (somewhat) domesticated. Those herding the creature, known as Stoutback Shepherds, must do so in the near vertical pastures dotting the mountain’s face. Unable to afford technology to assist them in getting around in this grueling and dangerous environment, the shepherds developed a mind technique called Anthecary which would allow them to “stick” to the vertical surface of the mountain using their minds.  Anthecary also “hardens” their bodies, allowing them to stand upright without having to brace themselves. When the League Stellar Marines adopted the giant S/K pistol as their standard-issue firearm, they adopted the use of Anthecary to combat the deadly recoil of the weapon. “Hardened” in an Anthecary state, the S/K can be safely and accurately fired.

 

CABALISM:

Xaphan Cabalism is a veritable mixed-bag of herbology, home-remedies, quack medicine, folklore, arcane investigation, machine science and religion all rolled into one. Cabalism was the Xaphans answer to the Hospitalers in the League, attempted to treat wounds and other medical maladies using pieced-together knowledge from various sources. Though rightly considered to be horrendous quacks and frauds, the Cabalists did managed to gather some practical knowledge, primarily through seducing and or abducting Hospitalers.

 

MENTRALYSIS:

In the burgeoning field of communicating with unconscious and comatose persons, Mentralysis is in the forefront. Using sophisticated computerized devices known as Mentralysis Decks, one may speak with a sleeping or comatose person as if they were awake. The Gold Coast of Hoban is the home and major research center of Mentralysis.

Mentralysis Archetype chart.

Mentralysis Archetype chart.

A major breakthrough with this science came when it was discovered that within all people is a Sleeping Self (SS) which takes control while asleep. The SS has a unique and independent personality, and may be very similar to the Waking Self (WS) or may be radically different. Mentralysists, through analysis, have determined there are seven types of Archetypical people, depending on how different the SS is from the WS.

Mentralysists have determined that various neurosis due to incompatibility between the WS and the SS can be treated, and oftentimes cured, using Mentralysis techniques.

 

CYBERLITICA:

Given the fact the League is full of people with an excess of spare time, a number of novel fads have come and gone through the years. One fad that took hold and has continued to grow is Cyberlitica, where one fabricates a completely different persona of either a fictitious person or, in some cases, of themselves. Using Cyberlitica, the fabricated “Changling” has a birth-date, public records of their passing, receipts, diplomas from various universities, have taken husbands or wives, and may have criminal records. The overriding goal of Cyberlitica is to create a completely convincing persona. If a Changling happens to make the posts, that is an added benefit. One man, a Lord Sharper of Stillville, divorced his wife after he learned most if not all of her glamorous wealth and exploits were fabricated via Cyberlitica. The Sisterhood of Light doggedly investigates Cyberlitica, and those who have been found to have created a Changling face heavy fines and or imprisonment.

 

BONDARISM:

The city of Waam with an assortment of Bondar-inspired vehicles moving across the sky (Carol Phillips)

The city of Waam with an assortment of Bondar-inspired vehicles moving across the sky (Carol Phillips)

Never underestimate the Xaphans for coming up with crazy sciences. Bondarism, practiced in the city of Waam, is no exception. Bondarism is the notion that the human body can experience accelerated evolution if the body is rigorously stressed by placing it into unusual and uncomfortable situations. Buildings and various vehicles built with Bondarism in mind, have little to no ergonomic considerations, are suicidally unsafe and are impractical in the extreme. However, the people of Waam do appear to exhibit a number of advanced abilities, including the ability to fly and walk up walls. Perhaps there is something to Bondarism after all.

 

TA (Time Apparent)

TA is a form of Time Travel being studied by the Hospitalers. Time travel is a very difficult thing to achieve, though the mechanics of it are fairly well understood. Temporal Gravity  (TG) is the most difficult aspect to overcome, as your TG ceaselessly attempts to pull you back into your proper place in time. Perception is also a very confounding thing to deal with, as time travelers will “forget” what they’ve come to do. (A legendary machine is said to have overcome all these problems, though its existence is in dispute)

An odd solution to the various issues with time travel is called Time Apparent by the Hospitalers. With TA, instead of sending your physical body ahead in time, only one’s consciousness goes. Once in the future, your consciousness will inhabit your body, in whatever condition your body happens to be in. You could appear as an animated corpse, a skeleton, a cloud of dust, or, in some cases, as a group of people if your material has been reincorporated into new life forms.

TA is only effective going forward from your apparent place in time. It has yet to be approved for general use by the Sisterhood of Light.

 

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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Big changes often begin as minor stirrings that grow and grow until there is no stopping it. Such is the case of Countess Sygillis of Blanchefort and the Day of Silent Looms.

The fortune of the House of Blanchefort is pinned on the production of textiles and the designing of men’s and women’s garments. In days past, the Blancheforts produced firearms, however, Lord Sadric abolished the practice and converted his factories to the production of fine fabrics, a craft he took great pride in.

His son, Lord Davage, never took an interest in the business and maintained a staff of well-paid designers to run the factories and create the look of the designs. Whatever the designers wanted to do, Davage signed-off on without much fuss. Occasionally, his sisters, Lady Poe and Countess Pardock, would have some thoughts on certain shades and textures they would like to see implemented, and the designers would accommodate them.

Things changed radically when Countess Sygillis showed up.

Things changed in a big way when Countess Sygillis married into the family (Bea Kimura)

Things changed in a big way when Countess Sygillis married into the family (Bea Kimura)

“Syg” was a vibrant countess, an ex-Black Hat, and she breathed life into the old household. She was in love with her lord and with his castle and all the things that came with it, including the family business. She was given a lavish tour of the factories, the designers proudly showing off their latest creations. In her honor, they created a “red” line of fabrics for the season. Syg, so new to the family, was bewildered by it all.

Time passed. One day, Syg was watching her son, Kay, playing in the Grove with his cousins, and she was inspired. She imagined some clothes she’d like to see her son dressed in. She prepared a few sketches and took them down to the factories. Excited, she showed them to the designers and they promised they would turn the sketches out.

Unfortunately, the designs never came. Undaunted, Syg tried again, and again, always heading down the mountains with her sketches, always the warm welcome and smiling faces at the factories, and always the lack of results. Unlike her husband who took no interest in the factories, Syg was an animal of a completely different color and when she got something in her head there was no stopping her. The “misunderstanding” with the designers was becoming personal fast. The designers began calling Syg “Madame Thimble” behind her back.

She took several self-help courses at the college and taught herself how to sew. She designed swatches and created her own fabrics on a small loom in her study. Getting rebuffed time and time again, Syg had enough. She gathered the designers together and told them in no uncertain terms that she was their boss and she demanded they do as she asked.

The designers politely responded that she was NOT their boss–Lord Davage was, and they would not cheapen the Blanchefort line with her silly designs.

Never provoke the Countess of Blanchefort (Eve Venture)

Never provoke the Countess of Blanchefort (Eve Venture)

Syg was furious. She informed the designers that she not only possessed Lord Davage’s ear, but many other select parts of him as well and that “Hell wasn’t a half-mile off.” That evening, after a furious bout of love-making, Syg gently whispered into Davage’s ear: “Love, may I please sack every one of the designers?”

Nude, glistening with sweat, she showed Davage her designs and insisted she could do a better job. She begged him to let her fire them. “Please let me fire them, Dav! I promise, I’ll take the business to new heights!!”

Too tired to argue, Davage proclaimed Syg could do what she wished in the factories. He had a thought that if Syg fired the staff and failed, then that would give him the excuse to quit textiles and start producing firearms again. So, he had a happy wife and the prospect of restarting the old family business–it was a win/win.

The next morning, armed with her new power, Syg marched down to the factories and fired every designer that crossed her path. The stream of people exiting the factories holding the sack became known as the Day of Silent Looms.

Madame Thimble had struck.

As the various Households watched, Syg took control of the Blanchefort factories, turning our her designs in abundance. Though, not without her missteps, Syg proved to be a capable designer and a shrewd businesswoman. Her designs were bold and daring and, in time, she grew the business, invading fresh new territory, such as Hoban, which had never invested in Blanchefort fabrics.

At long last, Syg was able to see her son in clothes she thought proper.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia, Eve Ventrue and Bea Kimura

The nefarious Black Hats, the scourges of Xaphan Space, have been in an on-going disagreement with their hated rivals of the League, the Sisterhood of Light for ages. In the older days of the AX Time Epoch, the Black Hats regularly met the Sisters on the battlefield like two great armies, the Black Hat slinging their Shadow tech and the Sisters countering with TK.

Eventually, after many defeats and a bit of internal strife, the Black Hats began shying away from direct engagements with the Sisters and commenced a campaign of smaller “harassing actions” against the League. The Black Hats became known and feared for “Snaring” certain places across the League, overrunning them with painted illusions and Shadow tech. However, the Sisters, ever vigilant, became adept at detecting Black Hat snares and eliminating them. The Black Hats were again frustrated.

Going back to the drawing board, the Black Hats finally came up with two forms of Shadow tech that the Sisters could not easily detect of be rid of: Shadow tech Traps and Whamic.

StT Pots were invented by Lady Poe of Blanchefort (Ewelina Dolzycka)

StT Pots were invented by Lady Poe of Blanchefort (Ewelina Dolzycka)

Shadow tech Traps (StT’s) were invented by Ethylrelda of Waam, a Black Hat of immense power. StT’s are tiny, undetectable, and can do virtually anything and go anywhere. StT’s can take on any number of shapes and forms, however the most common appears to be a tiny six-legged “cockroach”-like creature that latches onto a victim and will not let go until it has either run its course or is dispelled by the Sisterhood of Light. StT’s can be left in an given area and there they will wait until they are “triggered”. They can be instantly deadly (sometimes exploding, catching fire, lashing out and cutting) or they can perform “harassing” activities like latching onto a victim and causing misfortune at a measured rate. As they are most often Cloaked into invisibility, a person may carry an StT for a long period of time and not know it. StT’s may also infect devices and machinery and cause them to either malfunction, operate on their own, or provide false information. Persons suffering from extreme bouts of misfortune or bad luck often present themselves to the Sisters to determine if they have been “StT’ed”. They can also self-replicate, making them extremely difficult to be rid of. The Bilson-Gorman are of Bazz was declared “uninhabitable” by the Sisterhood of Light due to the high number of devious and self-replicating StTs placed there by the nortorious Ethyrelda of Waam. Use of StT’s became a Black Hat favorite and became a usual weapon of most of them.

StT POTS:
Lady Poe of Blanchefort, a great innovator in the use of Silver tech, invented a variation of standard StT’s called an StT Pot, which can create vast amounts of programmable StT’s from a small space in a very short amount of time. StT Pots resemble a decorative vase with tiny Silver tech bugs wandering out to the rim. Highly effective, one or two StT Pots can eliminate an entire army in a matter of moments.

As they are made of Shadow tech, StT’s are very difficult to dispel. The Sisterhood of Light is adept at detecting and removing them. Also, a branch of Xaphan Cabalism and certain wavelengths of light have recently been discovered to dissolve or kill StT’s as well

WHAMIC:

Wilhella Cormand-Grande and her ex-husband, Scrib tiffin, Portator of Shook. (Eve Ventrue)

Wilhella Cormand-Grande and her ex-husband, Scrib Tiffin, Portator of Shook. (Eve Ventrue)

Whamic is another Black Hat scourge that is rapidly growing in League space. Whamic is a form of viral spam holo-mail that does not attack your terminal or hardware, instead, it attacks the person viewing it. The “Mad Black Hat of Waam” Wilhella Cormand-Grande of Waam is the known inventor of Whamic in 0003002AX. Whamic is enfused with an altered form of Shadow tech and is capable of being transported holographically. When opened, Whamic may do virtually anything. Monsters may jump out of of holo cones or terminals and attack, invisible demons might take up residence and cause no end of grief, or one might be hopelessly mesmerized into performing activities not of one’s own making. The Black Hats’ usual antagonists, the Sisterhood of Light, were completely unprepared for these holo-attacks and had to turn to the Science Ministry for assistance. The Science Ministry was largely successful in purging most bits of Whamic from the holoways, however, some of it still gets through. As a counter-measure, the Sisters threatened to assassinate Wilhella, and, being somewhat of a coward, she greatly abated her Whamic attacks. Unlike StT’s, mastery of creating Whamics was held exclusively by Wilhella.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia, Eve Ventrue and Ewelina Dolzycka

StG: The Tempus Findal

July 25, 2014

There are many legendary creatures walking the fringe of rational thought, spoken of in whispers and discussed in the yellowed pages of ancient books.

The Tempus Findal, by Fantasio

The Tempus Findal, by Fantasio

The creature known as the Tempus Findal is one of them.

In the old Vith, Tempus Findal loosely translates as: The One and Only. Most League knowledge of these shadowy and somewhat tragic beings comes from a single person named Mary of Falconer who wrote extensively of them. Mary’s mother, a talented and beautiful woman of the shield known as Samartine of the Falcon, suddenly grew sick and languished. None of the various Hospitalers and learned sages brought in to assist her could do anything correct her failing condition. At some point in the process, Mary received an odd letter in the Posts. The letter was written by someone calling itself the “TF” or “Tempus Findal”. It went on to say that it was an insane supernatural beast of great power, that it had killed many people throughout its existence, and that it was masquerading as a trusted member of her mother’s vast court. It also wrote that it enjoyed select moments of conscience in between bouts of murderous madness, and that was why it had written to her. It claimed it was feeding upon her mother’s energy, and, if it wasn’t stopped, it would destroy her. As a final word, it advised her to arm herself by venturing out to Lake Venera, a lake in a volcano caldera located on the Xaphan world of Midas.

Mary diligently performed research and determined her mother was in fact being consumed by an Extra-Planar entity known as the Tempus Findal. Unable to uncover or thwart this creature alone, she hired a team of mercenaries known as the Sons of the Ram (The “Ramsons”), and together they vanquished it and saved her mother.

THE TEMPUS FINDAL:
The Tempus Findal (TF) is a lonely and contradictory being. It is, at times, relentless, remorseless, utterly insane, incredibly strong, and able to generate an all-encompassing Wall of Fear that cannot be withstood. It is, for all practical purposes, immortal and it may cross the Planes of Reality at will, all the usual controls and defenses in the Hall of Mirrors meant to prevent such crossings are ineffective against it. Once it has locked onto its prey, it will allow nothing to stop it. It will lie, cheat, steal, impersonate and murder to get what it’s after.

Admiral Pax, Lord of Adrastus and admiral in the Stellar Fleet was replaced by a Tempus Findal for a period of time (Eve Ventrue)

Admiral Pax of the Stellar Fleet was replaced by a Tempus Findal for a period of time (Eve Ventrue)

And, at other times, it is nostalgic and reflective. It is fully capable of feeling love, of feeling loyalty and remorse for the things it has done as it wanders from one identity to another. When properly sated, it can often “fall asleep”, forgetting what it is and believing it is simple a mundane person and living the life of a mortal.

But, sooner or later, it always “wakes up” and falls back into madness.

Depending on their mental state, they can appear either intensely beautiful, or singularly ugly.

THE FINDALMARCH:
The origins of the TF are tragic. These creatures begin life as an ordinary, mortal person. The Hospitaler Equation of Opposites states that, for every living being, a predictable number of alternate versions of that being exist across the Planes of Reality. This is also true for the TF however, an Extra-Planar event known as the Findalmarch happens at some point in its life that kills off all alternate instances of this person with the exception of one: one lone survivor. That lone survivor becomes a Tempus Findal, and their existence as an Extra-Planar creature and celestial vagabond begins.

THE KAIDAR GEMAIN:
The lone goal and mission of the Tempus Findal is to locate its opposite and feed upon its energy. A Kaidar Gemain (KG) exists everywhere, in every universe, and it is the energy of these rare, favored souls it seeks to devour. They can detect these individuals across the Planes, even across the seas of time anticipating their coming. Once they discover a KG, they will relentlessly pursue them. It is a “soft” pursuit. It can last years or even decades as they work their way into the KG’s life. They often become a trusted friend or confidant, sometimes they become a lover or a spouse. Like a cuckoo bird invading the nest of an unwitting host, they will kill and replace people as needed to get to the KG. And then they undetectably feed, taking the KG’s energy bit by bit, until they sicken and die. The process can take years. After it has fed long enough, the KG will “sour” and either die or, in worse cases, lose their status as a KG, becoming a Kaidar Gogol, The One who is Almost Everywhere, a raving, pathetic shell of what they once were. When that happens, the TF loses interest, turns its back and moves onto the next KG. During that transitional time, TF goes dormant, it “falls asleep” and forgets itself until it locks onto another KG. It can acquire a new name, develop an occupation, live like a mortal person. It is “happy” during this time, but it never lasts. Its hunger will invariably take it again.

The Findalmarch, the site where the Tempus Findal was created, can kill it (Carol Phillips)

The Findalmarch, the site where the Tempus Findal was created, can kill it (Carol Phillips)

COMBATING THE TEMPUS FINDAL:
Mary of Falconer detailed a number of ways that she and the Ramsons combatted the TF. Although TF’s are immortal, they can still be killed. The site of their Findalmarch, or items taken from that site, can kill them, thus discovering their Findalmarch site is key in combatting a TF. In Mary’s case, the waters of Lake Venera were like poison to it.

Sometimes the TF itself will willingly help bring about its own defeat. The TF is a tragic creature as it can go through periods where it feels great remorse for the suffering it has caused. They have been known, either consciously or unconsciously, to create charms and other trinkets that will allow a wearer to withstand their terrible Wall of Fear. They also brew a potion that, when smelled or swallowed by the TF, will restore their sanity for a short period of time.

Additionally, TF’s can be killed by other TF’s. They are extremely territorial, claiming whatever Plane of Reality they are inhabiting for their own. When two or more TF’s enter the same Plane of Reality, they will detect each other and fight to the death.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips and Fantasio

The Wandwilla is a creature of legend. Spicy tales of the great tree-like beings dreaming forever is ecstasy drift out of Xaphan Space and have taken hold in the collective imagination of the League, such that the Sisterhood of Light themselves investigated the matter. What findings they came up with were never revealed to the League in general.

Wandwilla, by Ewelina Dolzycka

Wandwilla, by Ewelina Dolzycka

A Wandwilla is a bizarre creature. It is described as being the fusing of a Shadow tech male and a Shadow tech female—usually a Black Hat—into one. Shadow tech females are enthralled by the touch of a Shadow tech male, and, if the two are allowed to touch for too long, they will never be apart again, welding themselves into a Wandwilla. They are gigantic, tree-like creature of a ruddy, somewhat greenish hue. Its trunk, many times, is shaped in the form of a man and woman in an intimate embrace and its extensive tap root system often resembles a series of reclining human figures. Its branches are twisting and rather tentacle-like, often bearing large, pear-like fruits. They are never described as having any leaves, just the fruits. The fruits, meaty and sweet, are prized for their arcane properties. Wandwillas often twitch a little in the heights of pleasure.

Xaphan tales maintain there is a hidden world where the Black Abbess has collected all known Wandwillas—there they live in a sort of forest. To fall asleep in this forest is said to cure any malady known, including insanity.

Ex-Black Hat and Hospitaler Samaritan, Bethrael of Moane, once experienced the touch of a Shadow tech male and documented her experience for study. She noted his touch was killing and overwhelming and she could feel her body changing as he touched her. She also noted she was never quite the same afterward and often dreamed of transforming into a great tree.

Ethylrelda of Waam, pre-Wandwilla. Sketch by Carol Phillips

Ethylrelda of Waam, pre-Wandwilla. Sketch by Carol Phillips

The great Black Hat, Ethylrelda of Waam, became a Wandilla with her Spectre general Krotan of the Yard. Black Hats often fear becoming a Wandwilla and go to great lengths to isolate themselves from Shadow tech males. Yet, as they grow older, the prospect of becoming a Wandwilla begins to appeal to them more and more as a sort of reward for their centuries of service. Ethylrelda of Waam made no secret of her desire to become a Wandwilla and attempted to fuse with Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort, a powerful Shadow tech male who fell into her midst. Lord Blanchefort managed to substitute himself with Krotan, who loved Ethylrelda and wanted to join with her. Their Wandwilla burst out of her temple and towered over the skyline of Waam until in disappeared in the night, taken away by the Black Abbess the Waamites say.

In the League, noted horticulturist and ex Black Hat, Duchess Torrijayne of Oyln, believes a small grove of Wandwillas exists somewhere on Kana, and has made it her mission to locate this grove and ensure its protection and well-being.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia, Ewelina Dolzycka and Carol Phillips