bloodstein-purple CroppedFinally, after years of work, LoE Book 10, The House of Bloodstein  is available! The HOB series consists of two books, this one, subtitled Perlamum and Book 11, subtitled Mentralysis.  Mentralysis is already written, just going through the usual editing and pre-publication process which can take a long time. It should be out in 2017.

All authors are different. Some are note-takers, scribbling down thoughts and sudden ideas for consideration later. Others outline the story from beginning to end, making the work into a full-fledged project. And then there’s me. I write on-the-fly, no notes, no outlines, nothing. I just write. It works for me most of the time. The problem with writing how I do is I tend to change my mind in mid-stream a lot. It’s never the case where the story I intended to write at the beginning is what ends up in the final product–and that is triply so for HOB.

As much as I complain about the NaNoWriMo month as a destructive stunt and waste of time, HOB started as a NaNo project I did to appease a friend about five years ago. It was a fairly straight-forward tale, but it lacked the manic imagination and strangosity I’m known for. In fact, as I finished the first draft, it reminded me of those feel-good ABC After-School Specials I used to have to watch as a kid. There’s a term in Spanish that applies here: The first draft of HOB had no tiene chiste. What that means is the story was plain, boring, had no oomph, had no pop. Love or hate my books, nobody’s ever bored, and HOB, due to the emphasis of NaNo on word-count, was full-on boring.

Cover mock-up

This cover mock-up, although beautiful, looks more like a cover one might find on a romance book, which is not the case here. We moved this image to the interior. (Carol Phillips)

So, there I was with a 50k manuscript that I, frankly, hated.

I moved on to writing the oft-mentioned but seldom-seen Shadow tech Goddess. As I wrote, the candy-coated mess that was HOB stayed in the back of my head like a doomed bug fying in a window pane. But, you know, sometimes, the addition of one or two elements can make all the difference, like that elusive missing piece of a puzzle that, once found, pulls everything else together. I’m not certain when it happened, but that missing piece for HOB hit me–hard–and I went back to the story. 50k words quickly exploded to 170k, enough for two complete books.

With this addition, all the old imagination came back in earnest, in spades. HOB went from a moribund cake-walk with no chiste, to the weirdest, most epic, most sprawling book in the LoE series yet with tons of chiste. I held nothing back… it is all out there and I am so happy to share it with the world at last.

HOB 4

The Wunderlucks, Ernst, Clara, Rusty and Aiken, are a bunch of bullies that are fun to hate. (Carol Phillips)

BLURB:

 

I usually suck at blurbing–it’s a lot harder than you might think, but, this one just sort of wrote itself for HOB

Mysterious and elusive, Lady Chrysania of Bloodstein calls from the ruins of her castle. She dwells in the dark, hiding her face, ravaged by an ancient curse. The only way to break the curse is to win a game called Perlamum. If she loses, she dies. She looks to her Vith kin in the west, begging for help acquiring the all-important pieces she needs to play the game. Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort, his Ne-Countess Sammidoran, and his cousins answer her call. However, collecting the Perlamum pieces for Lady Bloodstein is a deadly game. They must face a host of perils:

-The terrible Black Hat in the city of Waam who knows their every move.

-A hated rival on the planet Xandarr and the bewildering labyrinth of Gods Temple.

-The man from Shook who cannot be killed. -A family of vile bravos from the south.

-The diabolical Dead Men of Mare, nigh invincible creatures straight from an insane nightmare.

To even the odds, Kay and Sam turn to a forgotten graveyard deep in the Telmus Grove, and the great eminence resting there. Can Lady Chrysania of Bloodstein be helped, or, for that matter . . . . . . can she be trusted?

The House of Bloodstein  is out on Amazon–CLICK HERE to go to Amazon.com. I also have several signed copies available. If you’d like one, message me. I’ll even pay the shipping and throw in a little swag.

copyright 2016, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

 

 

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HOB: Picking a Cover

November 4, 2015

One of my personal favorite portions of the book creation process is the formulation and execution of the cover. It’s a lot of fun putting my head together with talented artists, like Carol Phillips, and seeing what shakes loose.

For my next book, the unbridled House of Bloodstein: Perlamum, the planning process followed the usual pattern.

SO MANY SCENES

First, we hash out what scene we want to layout for the cover. I usually pick seven to ten scenes from the book that I think are interesting, pertinent to the general tone and feel of the book, and that will be strong enough to catch the eye of a passing shopper.

Unused cover ideas generally are placed in the interior of the book. (Carol Phillips)

Unused cover ideas generally are placed in the interior of the book. (Carol Phillips)

I type up a quick synopsis and send them off to Carol. Now here’s the weird part–even though this is my book with my characters and scenes, Carol has a great deal of say-so in what shows up on the cover. Using her polished artist’s eye, she selects what scenes to expand upon, often asking to read those select parts of the book, and scribbles up a few quick sketches for reference. Then, between the two of us, we agree upon the final subject matter for the cover. As for the rejected cover ideas, those almost always end up in the interior of the book–Carol’s work is just too good to throw away.

WHAT’S A “NIXIE”?

Most of the covers we do have at least one Nixie lurking around in them somewhere. A Nixie is an element on the cover artwork that either A)-has been greatly modified or exaggerated from the text, or B)-wasn’t in the book at all. We do this to give the cover composition a little more life and eye-candy where needed. Usually the Nixie isn’t too egregious and we never promise something on the cover that is not delivered upon in the book–we just change things around a little bit sometimes. For the House of Bloodstein, there is one minor Nixie in the artwork, but nobody other than Carol or me knows what it is–and I’m not telling.

The House of Bloodstein, by Carol Phillips

The House of Bloodstein, by Carol Phillips

Depending on her workload, it takes Carol about three or four months to finish the cover–all of it painted digitally one little element at a time. Since Book 2 (The Hazards of the Old Ones) we’ve opted for a wrap-style cover, meaning the artwork goes all the way around to the back cover, including the spine. Having a larger canvas to paint on allows Carol more freedom create a knock-out piece of work, though she has to be careful to place the key bits of artwork on the front part of the painting (the right side) and a bit less on the left side (the back) allowing for the rear-cover text. You can tell on the finished work above the left side of the composition has a lot more free space than the right. Carol also likes to put a little surprise on the spine.  Can you see what the surprise is??

GOING LOOPY FOR LETTERING

bloodstein-textHaving the finished piece of artwork is just the first part, now we’ve got to letter it, and that’s a great deal tougher than you might first think. It takes talent to thoughtfully, and tastefully, letter the cover. You want the lettering to pop out, to be easily readable from a distance, or, more importantly, from a tiny thumbnail on a website. As The House of Bloodstein is a somewhat gothic tale, I wanted something in that tone, and I imagined the lettering in a twisting block layout. After some mixing and matching, we decided on the above, it’s got the gothic theme I was looking for, I like how the letters fit together and the purple matches the artwork well.

Current cover configuration for Book 10--The House of Bloodstein

Current cover configuration for Book 10–The House of Bloodstein

Now, comes the painful part–how to add the lettering without covering too much of the artwork. That is always a struggle–what to sacrifice without losing the spirit of the composition. In this case, we couldn’t find a good spot to put the lettering, either going high or low, it ruined the artwork. We decided on the old trick of dimensioning down the general size of the artwork, creating a significant void space where the lettering can freely go. We’ve done that before, way back on the revised cover to Book 2, we scrunched the entire piece onto the front creating a void space on the top and the bottom. Here Carol uses a gothic pattern stained a handsome shade of red and black to fill in the void.

The back cover is full-sized and covered with around 250 words of back-cover text strategically placed around the characters.

The over-all effect is great. You get the impact of the large-sized lettering without having to cover up too much of the artwork–we still get to witness Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort  locked in a mortal struggle with a horrific giant-sized space guy in the cool green passes of the Telmus Grove. Cool stuff.

MATCHING TONE WITH CONTENT:

This cover mock-up, although beautiful, looks more like a cover one might find on a romance book, which is not the case here. (Carol Phillips)

This cover mock-up, although beautiful, looks more like a cover one might find on a romance book, which is not the case here. (Carol Phillips)

One final word of note. Unless you’re aiming for some sort of sick satire, you want the tone of your cover to match the tone of your story. If you’ve written a twisted tale of the macabre, you really don’t want a lot of sunshine and lollipops on the cover, otherwise you’ll confuse your readers. The House of Bloodstein is an imaginative action thriller, so we opted for an action scene. Had the book been more focused on romance, we would have selected the cover mock-up on the left, which gives the impression of loads of romance, conflict and general male/female drama to come.

Bowl Naked

RG

The House of Bloodstein: Perlamum, will be released in late 2015 from Loconeal Publishng

copyright 2015, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

 

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

 

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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Vive la France

September 9, 2014

French flag

I tend to get a lot of hits on my blog from France. Visitors originating in France rank second only to my home country of the United States in quantity of hits, with Germany being third. Germany makes sense, as I work with a number of immensely talented German artists. But France?? I often wonder if these hits are actual people looking at the artwork, or if the hits are simply products of spam.

I’d like to hope something of my work has touched somebody in France.

So please, if you’re from France, or anywhere else in the world, and you’re a real, living person, I invite you to leave a comment. Say “Hey” or “Bonjour” or whatever else comes to your mind.

Fingers Crossed

RG

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 Characters: King

July 2, 2014

Lady Poe of Blanchefort (Carol Phillips)

Lady Poe of Blanchefort (Carol Phillips)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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