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.
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
March 16, 2015
Lady Poe of Blanchefort had quite a dilemma on her hands. A Silver tech female of growing regard, Lady Poe had become famous in Vithland for her Silver tech familiars, that she could create from thin air in a matter of moments.
She had a vast collection of them: Bark the hound dog that could act as a tireless extension of one’s eyes and ears, able to detect even cloaked persons. There was Shadow the cat that could uncover and destroy Shadow tech, Fins the fish that healed wounds and Whisper, the over-sized lady bug that could cloak one sight and sound.
Most popular of all was Tweeter, the little bird that could get one to where one needed to go without fail.
Lady Poe was always happy to create a familiar when one was needed, however, the demand for them became more than she could keep up with. She was a mother and busy tutor of the Blanchefort children after all, but she was the type of person who never wanted to let anybody down.
She tried creating a great number of her familiars to have on-hand for use in case one was wanted, however, the familiars only last for a week before they fade away into nothing and she’d have to start all over again.
She needed a method to keep her familiars functioning for an indefinite period of time, that way she could always have a small flock of her creations around for any who needed one. She eventually came up with a very clever and seemingly harmless answer to the problem.
Lady Poe created a Silver tech device she called the Autopyle. As she wanted to use an abandoned bell tower in the western face of Castle Blanchefort to keep her familiars, she formed her Autopyle into the shape of a massive bell. The Autopyle transmitted vast amounts of energy, and, with it in place, her familiars would last indefinitely. She decorated the bell tower, sanding and staining the floors, painting the walls, adding artwork, bookcases, draperies and couches, all done up in her provincial taste. In the rafters she added bird houses for her Tweeters and branches for the Whispers to climb on. When somebody needed a familiar, all they needed do was come to the room and sign one out on her ledger so she would know what needed to be replenished. The room became very popular. It was considered very relaxing to go into the nicely decorated room and play with all the animals.
RUTHINKILN OF WAAM:
Lady Poe had little idea the trouble her Autopyle creation would cause. Word eventually got out of the wondrous Silver tech creation Lay Poe had invented. Its news made it all the way into Xaphan space and into the ears of Ruthinkiln of Waam, a foul Black Hat and sister of the long lost Ethylrelda of Waam. With such a wondrous device, Ruthinkiln could create Shadow tech monsters the League had never seen before, and, on no less than ten separate occasions, she attempted to infiltrate Castle Blanchefort with her Spectre henchmen, the Drunes. Their intent was to steal the Autopyle and take it back to Xaphan space where its secrets could be unveiled.
Fortunately, all of Ruthinkiln’s infiltration efforts were detected and quashed. Lady Poe’s daughter, Millie, and Sebastian, son of Magistrate Kilos, made protecting the Autopyle room their personal quest as they grew into adults.
copyright 2015, Ren Garcia, Ewelina Dolzycka and Carol Phillips
May 25, 2014
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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: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.
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.
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
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 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. 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.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.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
April 15, 2013
THE HORVATH CREEPER: AN ODDITY OF NATURE. The Horvath Creeper is a freshwater flowering plant native to the temperate regions of the planet Trimble, an N1 world in Xaphan space. Prior to human colonization in 000024AX, it was a slow-growing plant with a large, meaty flower requiring clean, still water and ample branches or twigs to cling to. A number of conditions had to be met in order for it to thrive and its mortality rate was high. Those specimens that did manage to grow large were often fed upon by local fauna.
However, that all changed when man came to Trimble several centuries back. The Creeper, in the presence of man, turned out to be a parasitic opportunist. Its spores had a tendency to collect in the maxillary sinus of any who breathed it in. In some cases, the spores actually sprouted, resulting in the death of the victim. Weeks after the person’s death, a flower would burst out of the victim’s skull. The Creeper found the brain matter of those possessing Gifts of Mind were rich in nutrients required for germination. In a few cases, people infected with the Creeper found themselves taken over by it. They were compelled to seek out calm pools of water and drown themselves in it. There, the Creeper would emerge, devouring the victim’s brain and using their skeletal structure as a framework from which to cling. In time the symptoms of carrying the Horvath Creeper’s spores became known: the inability to use the Gifts of the Mind, confusion, and a fervent desire to drown oneself.
Queen Ghome I of Trimble was enchanted by the macabre nature of the Creeper and added it to her deadly Garden of Zama. There, she bred it and enhanced its sinister characteristics until it became her favorite, and the phrase: “Where a Dead Man falls a flower grows.”
copyright 2013, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips
January 18, 2013
In LoE Book VII, Against the Druries, the destination of Paymaster Stenstrom and his friends, Private Taara and Lord A-Ram is the planet Bazz.
Let’s learn a little bit more about Bazz.
Bazz, like many League worlds, was terriformed from a lifeless body to a fully functioning ecosphere in 744ex, when the planet shed its technical designation (Nu-12Gamma) and was given the name Helios. The terraforming process took over two hundred years to complete, the planet rather stubbornly clinging to its lifeless primordial past. It is twelve stellar units from its parent star, Nu Torriander, or Ole’ Scrub as it is known on Onaris, its planetary sister-world. Nu Torriander is a blue super giant, and its habitable zone is much farther back than many systems supporting life. It also has a dwarf companion star known as Lil’ Whiteface.
Bazz is known for cold winters and hot, humid summers. Those hot summers dissuaded the Vith, the usual explorers in the League and normally the first to populate a new world, from settling it. Helios sat empty for nearly three hundred years. After the Great Betrayal on 000000AX, it was occupied by the House of Sorrander for a short time.
Eventually, Helios began attracting settlers, mostly tax exiles and other people looking to get lost. From the beginning, the settlers found themselves seeing and hearing things that weren’t there. It was believed that there was some sort of gas or nerve agent in the air causing the hallucinations, though nothing of the sort was found. Eventually the planet became known as Bazz, short for the Vith word for Bazzal, or “Nightmare” in the common tongue. The name “Bazz” was officially given to the planet in 000022AX. It’s capital city is Helios-Mason.
Bazz, unlike Kana, Onaris and Hoban, never developed a feudal Great-House system of governing. instead, it developed a pure democratic system. For centuries, the place was considered barbaric and rather Xaphan-like. Its name became a metaphor for being rude, crass, noisy, profane and generally lacking in proper manners. As of late, its exotic culture, spicy food and distinctive architecture have given the place a new standing in the League.
Some notable facts:
–All cities and villages on Bazz have two names. This tradition hails back to the antiquity of the planet.
–Likewise, Bazzers also have two names instead of just one as seen in the Great House system.
–Women on Bazz wear their hair with distinctive “sideburns” known as Mollucks indicating their marital status. Married women do not wear Mollucks.
–Currency on Bazz consists of a computerized monetary unit known as a “Credit” or “Cred”. Bazzers transact business using a “Cred Stick”.
–Bazz’ most popular hero in antiquity was Darius Jones, the “It ” man from the south.
–The Hospitalers on Bazz are known as “The Jones” in honor of Darius Jones.
–The symbol of Bazz is a ferocious bear-like beast known as a Gallian Torr, which is said to eat nothing but human flesh.
LoE Book VII: Against the Druries will be available February, 2013 from Loconeal Publishing.
copyright 2013, Ren Garcia
December 29, 2010
The Sisters use Hiei as a vast repository for arcane books they keep in their collection. The books are stored in a gigantic vault under the castle. The upper levels are uses as dormitories for Sisters on sabbatical. The books kept at Hiei are considered to be of medium-level security, meaning nothing there is thought to be overly sensitive or dangerous.
The Grand Abbess of Hiei is, for a Sister, rather open and progressive. She allows non-Sisters to visit the castle and study some of the books in their collection. Of course there are a number of rigid conditions that must be met:
1)–You must be favored of the Sisters and have a Programmable designation of no less than: Canistronmi
2)–Any wishing to visit Hiei must ask for permission in writing a year in advance.
3)–Any approaching Hiei must come on foot. No civilian vehicles may pass within a hundred miles of the castle.
4)–The Sisterhood must pre-approve any and all content for viewing. Any books considered RESTRICTED shall not be viewable.
5)–No photographic, visual or scanning equipment is permitted inside the castle. Hand-written notes are permitted as long as they are first reviewed and approved by the Sisters.
6)–Any visiting Hiei shall have a Sister observe them at all times.
7)–Any attempting to steal property belonging to the Sisterhood of Light shall be considered “encastate” and their lives shall be deemed forfeit.
copyright 2011, Ren Garcia
December 20, 2010
The Temple of the Exploding Head trilogy visits many places as the books unfold. One of those places is Waam, a large city in Xaphan space. Occupying an entire continent in the northern corner of the distant planet Gothan, Waam is a progressive city, built in a wagon-wheel pattern with the very center of the wheel being known as Waam-Prime. It is clean, well-organized, democratic and is one of the few Xaphan cities that allow Elder religion to be practiced. A popular place, it is home to over 100 Black Hats, including Wilhella Cormand-Grande, the so-called “Mad Black Hat of Waam”.
The architectural movement of “Bondarunga” was created in Waam and is practiced there in its most severe and pristine form. The founders of the city were said to be refugees from the ill-fated space station Zall-88, and were dedicated to the evolution of the species. To that end, numerous sound-emitting bastions placed throughout the city pelt the ears of the Waamites, supposedly to promote evolution. Something might be said of these efforts, as the people of Waam have developed a number of notable abilities, including, in some cases, the ability to fly.
The great Xaphan hero, Princess Marilith of Xandarr, is a popular folk hero in Waam, with many statues, restaurants, pubs and casinos dedicated in her honor. In the municipality of Marilith, all citizens are expected to dress and wear their hair as she did on her birthday. (picture by Carol Phillips)