The Street of Knowledge

October 31, 2019

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted–hey, life happens.

The Street of Knowledge is one of the strangest, exotic, and, most dangerous places in the League of Elder universe. Outwardly, the culture and commerce of the Street is based largely on tourism. Even though the Street is located in the city of Vain right in the center of the austere Xaphan armada, the warm climate, unique cuisine, and breathtaking Great Xaphan Nebula lighting up the sky bring Xaphan tourists from far and wide.

Under the surface, however, the real commerce of the Street is minds, and/or the stealing and re-selling of minds, experiences, skills, etc. Vendors on the Street of Knowledge have developed technology specifically towards that end and have perfected it.  The Three Trades (the Russ, the AlbertCo and the Nightrobes) run the business of mind stealing, or “Vugging” as it’s known. Any person walking the street could be beset upon at any time, having their mind stolen by the Vuggers and then forced to buy back their own head.

Here’s a few brief terms before we continue:

Wonderland 1: Type 1 world in the heart of the Xaphan Armada, code-named Wonderland 1 in the League. The world doesn’t have a single, agreed upon name. The largest city on Wonderland 1 is Vain, located in the southern continent. The planet was thought to be a Planar World–one that appears from one place and appears in another.

Vain: Vain is the largest city on Wonderland 1. Throughout Xaphan space, Vain is known as a tourist destination, famous for an agreeable climate, amazing food, and unique sellable goods. The Street of Knowledge runs run the center of Vain.

Kopulate: (copy/duplicate)A person with an exact mental image of someone else’s head. A Kopulate pays to have somebody else’s head uploaded into their own–usually that of a person who is gifted, highly skilled, famous or wealthy. The Kopulate than believes they are that person. Kopulates can be a persistent and dangerous nuisance.

Pentagulle: Pentagulle is the wealthiest, most tourist-focused section of the Street of Knowledge.

ECSP: (Engineering Commando Squad Pentagulle) The city police of Pentagulle enforcing law and order in Pentagulle. In reality, the ECSP aid and assist the Trades as they go about their mind-stealing exploits, branding those to resist and/or fight back, criminals.

“Stinko”: nickname for a person who has had their mind completely stolen from their heads. Typically, all a Stinko can do is breathe and stand up if knocked down.

Slate: Term for a person’s mind, includes all of their experiences, knowledge, skills, traits, etc.

Smoque: An expensive form of nano-tech often used to incapacitate and drain a victom of their Slate. Smoque looks like ordinary smoke and is unmatched in the speed at which the draining can take place.

Squash: Nano tech capsules filled with liquid, Squash-dat can quickly upload pre-programmed information into a person’s head by simply breaking a capsule against a person’s forehead. Squash can make a person skilled in things the person has no training or talent for, can increase their sexuality, can make them bold, or masters of combat–anything goes. Squash is freely sold on the Street.

The Trades: Three sects who run the mind-trade on the Street of Knowledge. They buy and sell Slates, skills, experiences, etc no questions asked and enjoy the protection from the ECSP if challenged.

Vugger: A person or sect of people roaming the Street of Knowledge out to steal and sell Slates.

THE SECTS

Several Vugging sects rule the area of the street known as Pentagulle, stealing minds and selling them to the Trades on a daily basis.

snake head whore sketch2THE SNAKE-HEAD WHORES: The infamous Snake-Head Whores are known far and wide. They are incredibly brazen and aggressive. Despite the continued efforts of the Nightrobes to keep things quiet, word of their exploits have even drifted off world, though Xaphans generally disbelieve rumors of mind-stealing and other unsavory things going on in Vain.

They are known, and dreaded, for their ability to drain a person down to “Stinko” in mere seconds. They wear headdresses composed of robotic snakes with blinking red eyes. These hypnotic snakes can fully mesmerize a victim in just a few moments. They also make use of expensive Smoque, which can also drain a person’s head in rapid order. The Snake-Heads work in close association with the Nightrobe Trade.

The Snake-Head Whores hang out at the Enselaco Bar in the heart of Pentagulle. There, they often put on plays using Meat Puppets–horrific automatons they use to take control of past victims. With their Meat Puppets, the Snake Head Whores can take control of said victims no matter how far away they may be. The Snake-Heads made a Meat Puppet of Kat, the Countess of Belmont-South Tyrol and tried to control her, though they underestimated her wrath and ability to fight back.

ST. CRISPENS FIRE: Running a number of well-regarded restaurants in the Pentagulle area, St. Crispens’ Fire is a much more innocuous and less belligerent sect than the Snake-Heads. They are in direct partnership with the Russ Trade.

Any person dinning at their numerous restaurants is subject to getting Vugged, though The Fire is much less obvious about their Vugging activities, often quietly scanning and copying any experiences or skills they come across without any fuss made. The Fire rarely Stinko a person (unless under direct orders from the Russ), and mostly their victims come and go from their restaurants unaware anything has happened. They will, on occasion, blackmail any persons with interesting thoughts or memories if that person has the wealth to make the blackmailing worth their while. The sold images of people’s heads have created Kopulates, a mental duplicate of another person who can become dangerous pests.

VERTI-HOVI’S: Closely allied with the AlbertCo trade, the Verti-Hovi’s are well known for running “Verti-Hovi parks in and around the Street of Knowledge. Rounding up Stinkos from all over, the VH’s place them into these parks and also paying customers to do with them however they please, often Squashing them into horrible acts. Even amongst Vuggers, the Verti-Hovis have a soiled, lowly reputation.

–The Street of Knowledge appears in LoE, Book 12: Kat

copyright 2019 Ren Garcia

Temple cover Cropped FrontAt last, the Temple of the Exploding Head Omnibus is available on Amazon. When I started this whole process last year, I figured it would be pretty easy to just compile the three books that make up the saga–The Dead Held Hands, The Machine and the Temple of the Exploding Head–and that would be it.

Didn’t quite turn out that way–creating this omnibus was actually pretty difficult and extremely time consuming. I might as well have started from scratch.

The whole Temple thing began life back in 2011. I wanted to highlight Lord Kabyl, the son of Captain Davage and Countess Sygillis. I wanted him to embark on a long quest, one where he would grow into manhood.

Temple Cover Cropped BackThe end result was the original Temple of the Exploding Head, which weighed in at a little over 300,000 words, which is a pretty big book. That said, I was forced into editing the book into three roughly equal parts that were published over the next three years.

Thing is, I never really liked it chopped into three parts. I felt it was better whole, as one book. Flash forward around ten years. The time had come to re-assemble it into one large tome, as it was meant to be. Re-edited, with the soon to be released paperback featuring over 100 interior illustrations from artists all over the world, the book is a complete quest from beginning to end, and something I’m quite proud of. It also features a brand new cover by Carol Phillips, the Queen of the League of Elder universe.

In the book is Lord Kabyl, a young man, the son of famous parents, trying to discover himself, his cousins, Lady Sarah and Lord Phillip, their friend Lord Lon of Probert, and Kay’s love, Lady Sammidoran of Monama, a woman full of secrets, and not all of them are pleasant. In fact, some of them are quite terrifying.

Below is my Ren Presents podcast where I discuss the book, the characters, it origins and my thought processes as I came up with the concept.

 

The Temple of the Exploding Head Omnibus is available on Amazon from Hydra Publications.

copyright 2018, Ren Garcia

 

 

 

Syg’s Statue

February 7, 2018

Mounted in a recessed nook at the north end of the Holt Courtyard in the Telmus Grove is a fifteen foot tall statue of Sygillis, the Countess of Blanchefort.

 

SygStatue

Statue of Countess Sygillis, by Rebecca Sinz

It was put there by the countess’ son, Lord Kabyl when he was thirteen years old. Created in six pieces and smelted in the Blanchefort’s old smithy of wrought iron and copper. It depicts Sygillis wearing her favorite adventuring outfit: a Hospitaler body suit and cape-like shawl. As Lord Kabyl’s father, Captain Davage, often said that the coming of the countess to the House of Blanchefort invigorated it with new life, he symbolized that thought by placing a water jug in the statue’s hand.

 

The Countess loved the statue, often taking her lunches near it in the courtyard. She even incorporated the water jug into her design logo and Coat of Arms.

It is not known who designed the statue, as Lord Kabyl simply computer scanned the image and had the pieces smelted in an automated factory, leaving the remaining work being to bolt it together. It is believed that Kay’s love, Lady Sammidoran, an accomplished artist, designed the statue all on her own, although it bears a strong resemblance to a statue of the old Vith heroine, Subra of the Mark mounted in her chapel in the castle.

The statue has been stolen on three separate occasions by the countess’ main social nemesis, Duchess Torrijayne of Olyn.  It was recovered the first time half submerged in the Withelwell River.  On the second occasion, the statue was found in a ballroom at St. Gala’s Veil, the home base of the Ballwigs. The Ballwigs did not wish to part with it, so the countess had to steal back her own statue.  On the third occasion, it was found in a school in the city of Rustam, where the children had taken to lobbing eggs and crabapples into the jug for sport.

After that, the countess enchanted the jug, turning it into an StT Pot, that would defend the statue from any further attempts to steal it.

In retaliation, Countess Sygillis defaced the statue of the duchess at her home at Grand Effington Manor. As the duchess was pregnant with her sixth child, the countess altered her statue to be immensely pregnant with milky water shooting from her breasts.

copyright 2018, Ren Garcia and Rebecca Sinz

The Hospitalers

October 2, 2017

Hospitaler Logo

Seal of the Grand Order of Hospitalers

The Warrior/Healers of the League, the Hospitalers are an old sect, second only to the Sisterhood of Light in age. They are also the only non-Vith sect to achieve a very high position of power in the League. Originating on Onaris centuries ago, they started as group of fighting valets. They served their Blue Vith lords and were their trusty companions. Powerful fighters, the Hospitallers earned a reputation for their speed and fierceness in battle, they using a strange silver weapon called a Jet Staff instead of usual swords, pistols or axes.

 

At some point, on the forgotten wastelands of some battlefield, the Hospitallers began trying to attend to their master’s wounds. The Elder-Kind having been Gifted with youth and no disease had little need for medical knowledge and almost nothing was known about basic first aid. The Hospitalers, through persistence and practice, perfected techniques in binding wounds, clearing blood poisoning, re-attaching fallen limbs and so on. Their knowledge grew so great that even the mighty Sisterhood of Light turned to them for medical help when it was needed, sharing with them some of their most guarded secrets that the Hospitalers have never divulged. The Hospitalers have always worn black and silver.

There are a number of Hospitaler Sects that may or may not be well-known outside of the Order:

Hospitaler HopkinsThe Hopkins: General practitioners of the medical arts, often inhabiting healing sanctums in cities all over the League. The Hopkins are the most commonly seen Hospitalers. They are expert at most medical needs the general populace might present to them. They are well-versed at healing maladies of the flesh, blood poisoning, limb replacement, dental/orthodontics, hair transplantation and hair colorations, eye myopia corrections, tattooing, 4-D tattooing, and various exorcisms.

Throughout their history, the Hopkins have been targeted by a number of Xaphan Warlords hoping to impress them into service, as the Hopkins are vastly superior in knowledge and skill than the Xaphan Cabalists, who are widely regarded as quacks.

BoblytesThe Boblytes: The most warlike of all the Hospitaler sects, the Boblytes often serve on the battlefield, both in a fighting capacity and administering medical care while the battle is in progress. The Boblytes are well-known and prized for their martial skill. A small force of Boblytes can often defeat much larger fighting groups. Occasionally, their presence alone can prevent or postpone a battle.

Though mostly regarded as the military wing of the Hospitalers, the Boblytes have contributed a number of technical innovations, including the Troutman scanner for measuring blood poisoning and the Veltromax used to keep terminal patients alive until more comprehensive medical care can be administered. They also invented 4-D tattooing as a method for triaging casualties on the battlefield.

KnickerbaumsThe Knickerbaums: Knickerbaums are adventurous and outgoing, seeking to expand the Hospitalers’ medical knowledge through quest and adventure. Knickerbaums are often found serving aboard Fleet vessels, hoping to discover new knowledge and medical techniques.

Second only to the Hopkins, the Knickerbaums are the most well-known sect outside of the Hospitaler order. Their black and silver uniforms and winged silver helmets are often thought to be the standard wear for the sect as a whole, but that is not correct. Their martial skills are also considered to be second only to the Boblytes. The most mercurial of all sects, the Knickerbaums are known to be a bit temperamental to work with, often giving Fleet commanders fits.

EphysiansThe Ephysians: A mysterious sect within the Hospitalers seeking to expand their knowledge by means other than those allowed by the Sisterhood of Light. They are the most reclusive and least seen/understood Hospitaler sect. They are often tasked to test and validate new sciences, including Mentralysis, Anthecary, Bodism and Time Apparent.

The Ephysians are not known to travel much, except in rare situations, and their fighting skills are next to nil.

In their quest for knowledge, they are often said to share information and collaborate with unconventional parties, such as the Hertogs, the Ming Moorlands, the Black Hats and the Xaphan Cabalists.

The JonesThe Jones: A branch of the Hospitalers located on the world of Bazz, The Jones in the modern sense barely resemble the main branch of the sect. They were assembled by the Boblytes in the early days of Bazz after it had been terraformed into a Type 1 world. They are named after a hero of Bazz lore: Darius Jones. With the passage of time, they have diverged away from the Hospitalers.  Their appearance is bizarre, looking nothing like other sects. They are deadly in battle and are masters of fast hypnosis.

It is said The Jones seek a being called Bellathauser, a creature whom they believe to be the pinnacle of human perfection.

copyright 2017, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

The Liebster Awards

January 29, 2013

Leibster
I was nominated by my fellow author, the amazingly talented Chantal Boudreau, for the Leibster Award. “What is that?” I asked.

“Dunno,” she said. “Just do it, `kay.” Actually, she didn’t say that, but I just can’t help but tell stories. As you continue reading, I’m clearly one of the must boring humans on the planet.

So, here we go.

The rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you. Thanks, Chantal!

2. Post eleven random facts about yourself.

3. You answer the eleven questions asked by the person who nominated you.

4. You think of a new set of eleven questions and nominate eleven others to answer them.

ELEVEN RANDOM FACTS ABOUT REN (and these are all true)

1)–My folks thought I was “Mentally Challenged” as a lad for my inability to keep up with my studies. My teachers agreed and suggested DRUGS to fix my issues. After two years of mind-altering DRUGS, Darth Vader finally discovered my problem. I came out of the theater crying: “I couldn’t see anything!” I babbled. A trip to the eye-doctor and a pair of glasses later, I was fixed.

2)–I used to play ice hockey, goal tender. I’ve been knocked unconscious three times and the one-and-only time I’ve been in a hockey fight … was with a girl.

3)–A trip to a Turkish Brothel was one of the coolest experiences of my life–not to mention one of the most expensive.

4)–During my time in the Air National Guard, I was inches away from being sucked into the intake of a running F16.

5)–I’ve had a loaded gun shoved into my face twice in my life: once by the FBI and once by the Body Guard of the Prince of Saudi Arabia.

6)–I barely missed the following catastrophic events: The F5 Super-Break-out Tornado of Xenia, Ohio (1 Day), the 1989 Loma-Prieta earthquake: (3 Weeks), and 9/11 (1 Month).

7)–In an abandoned YMCA, I managed to dodge metal girders falling from the crumbling ceiling only to fall into the drained swimming pool in the center of the room.

8)–I was once engaged to a woman 20+ years my senior.

9)–I have a mortal fear of spiders, yet I have a recurring dream of sticking my hand into a tank with a tarantula and letting it bite me.

10)–While cutting through a field on my way home from school, I was chased by an Arabian Horse and bitten in the rear-end as I scrambled under the fence to get away from him. I haven’t liked horses much since.

11)–I’ve been to five places the Ghost Adventurers have been, and I haven’t experienced a thing.

Ok, that was embarrassing, now to Chantal’s questions:

1. What was your favourite childhood show? Gilligan’s Island. Still one of my favs.

2. If you could be a bird, what bird would you be and why? Common Nighthawk–just because the name is cool.

3. What is the best dessert you’ve ever eaten? I’m pretty boring when it comes to deserts. Simple yellow cake with creamy chocolate frosting–or, if I’m feeling frisky, strawberry frosting.

4. If you could pick band line-up for your ultimate concert, who would you have open, follow and headline? I’m totally not into concerts. If I had to pick–Lady Gaga would open for Adam Ant.

5. What would you say is your favourite book outside of your preferred genres? I hate to say it, but I loooove Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I just love it.

6. If you had to sit through the goriest of horror movies of the sappiest of chick-flicks, which would you pick? Gory horror films actually bore me. Probably the goriest film I’ve seen that I enjoyed was John Carpenter’s “The Thing”. My fav Chick’s Flick must be Moulin Rouge by Baz Luhrmann. I actually named the planet Bazz after him.

7. Kirk or Picard? Kirk. Picard’s a $%^^&

8. What is your favourite board game? Talisman by Game’s Workshop. I have all the expansions and they’re worth a fair amount of money these days.

9. If you had your choice, quiet night at home or rowdy night out? Home. I’m not much a of Bar-Guy.

10. What are the top three colours in your wardrobe? Blue, green and white.

11. Have you ever read anything you were expecting to dislike but to your surprise you loved it? Not that I can think of. If I think I’m not going to like something, I pretty much always don’t.

Now comes the hard part–I’m supposed to forward this to 11 more bloggers. Problem is, Chantal knows pretty much the same list of bloggers that I do. I can’t think of 11 more to send to.

Ah me…