December 29, 2010

"Hiei" by Carol Phillips

The old Haitathe castle known as Hiei (pronounced “He-i”) is a stronghold of the Sisterhood of Light and is one of the pleaces visited in Book 1 of the trilogy, The Dead Held Hands. It’s a gloomy old castle by the sea located in the far northern reaches of the Estherlands on Kana. As with most Sisterhood strongholds, it’s in the middle of nowhere, miles from any large habitation and occupying lands rumored to be haunted.

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)