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

She was a woman whose face he could not describe, whose voice he would not recognize, yet, she haunted Paymaster Stenstrom’s thoughts.

There was one thing and one thing only that he knew for certain–he had failed her.

The Woman with the Gun (Carol Phillips)

The Woman with the Gun (Carol Phillips)

The mysterious Woman with the Gun appears at various spots in LoE Book VIII: The Shadow tech Goddess. She is a shadowy character whose identity and motives are unknown. Paymaster Stenstrom, the hero of the tale, believes he encountered her in the forbidden Ruins of Clovis, though his memory of his time in the Ruins is suspect at best. Searching his thoughts, he remembers encountering a woman in the dark under Clovis. He remembers her saying something, though most of what she said is lost to him. The only thing he could remember is that she claimed to be his wife, and that she had depended on him doing something, and that he had failed. Though he can’t recall what she looked like or even the sound of her voice, her memory nevertheless haunts him.

Later, Lord A-Ram and his fiancé, Lady Alesta of Dare, encounter her, and it’s through their account that a description of her appearance is made. Lord A-Ram had trouble sleeping one evening. As he lay there in the dark of his quarters aboard the Seeker, he became aware that someone was in the room with him. It was, according to A-Ram and Alesta, a tall woman with fair hair wearing some sort of flight suit complete with a life support harness and dangling air hoses. She wore thick treaded boots and carried a gun in a shoulder holster. That’s what A-Ram remembered most about her, her gun. Alesta recalled her hair was set and styled up, as if for an evening out despite her utilitarian garb.

The Woman with the Gun apologizes for disturbing their sleep. She tells A-Ram and Alesta that she is Paymaster Stenstrom’s wife and that she had travelled a long way to speak to them. She tells A-Ram and Alesta how much she admires them and how she longs for a day when she may invite them to her home and entertain them as cherished guests. Then, this proud woman towering over them both begs them to help her. She says without them all will be lost and her service to the gods will never end. With tears in her eyes, she awaits their answer.

stgcover-frontThe Woman with the Gun appears in LoE Book VIII: The Shadow tech Goddess, due out soon from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips.

The Tribe of Vith and the history of the League are nearly one in the same, going back hundreds of thousands of years. Tall and Blue, the Vith were the original tribe of the League, the original Sisters were Vith. The first Ex-Commons of the League was mostly composed of Vith Houses, and, in the modern day, most of the enemy Xaphan Houses owe their ancestry to the Vith.

Captain Davage of the House of Blanchefort, a well-known Vith household possessing the Gift of Sight (Carol Phillips)

Captain Davage of the House of Blanchefort, a well-known Vith household possessing the Gift of Sight (Carol Phillips)

HISTORY:

In the old days of the Elders, the Vith acted as their right hand. They flew the cosmos and scouted the heavens for the Elders. When required, they fought the Elder’s battles. For ages, only the austere Vith sect known as the Sisterhood of Light could communicate with the Elders.

Upon arriving at Kana at the beginning of the EX Time Epoch, the other six tribes branched off and differentiated themselves from the Vith and spread out over the rest of the planet leaving the cold north to the core Vith, thus came the beginnings of the League.

THE HAITATHE HORDES:

In the early days of the EX, the Elders introduced a savage and giant-sized alien race to Kana, hoping to strengthen the Vith bloodlines and enlarge them in size. Unfortunately, the hermaphroditic Haitathe Hordes turned on the League and waged near constant war on the Vith, hoping to both enslave and devour them. In later centuries, the Haitathe would turn to the east and attack the Tribe of Esther.

GIFTS OF THE MIND:

As the Vith suffered under the lash of the Haitathe, The Elders realized they had made a grave error in introducing the Haitathe to Kana. In order to strengthen the Vith, the Elders bestowed upon them six Gifts of the Mind. These powerful Gifts (Strength, Waft, Cloak, Dirge, Stare, Sight) indeed saved the Vith and allowed them fight back against the Haitathe and turn them from the north. The Elders marked the old Vith with the Gifts Blue, with blue hair, eyes and skin. The other tribes greatly desired the Gifts of the Mind and attempted to marry into the Vith to acquire them via genetics. Vith lacking the Gifts became known as Cyans.

THE HEROES OF THE VITH:

The Coat of Arms of the House of Blanchefort. The Rose has been a common symbol of the Vith for centuries. Also, the image of a Haitathe Warrior can be found on many Vith CoA's. (Carol Phillips)

The Coat of Arms of the House of Blanchefort. The Rose has been a common symbol of the Vith for centuries. Also, the image of a Haitathe Warrior can be found on many Vith CoA’s. (Carol Phillips)

Some of the greatest heroes of Vith antiquity emerged during this time with the Haitathe. The League needed heroes, and the Vith provided them in earnest. There was the mighty Homma of Telmus Falls and his queen, the gigantic Emmira the Swordless. Of their children, Lennibus and Terfal ended the Haitathe influence in the north. Their sister Subra of the Mark was the first Vith female in history to be able to harness Shadow tech. Another of their children became notable for a different reason: Magravine became the infamous Black Abbess, leader of the Black Hat Sisterhood. There was also the famous Holt of the Mountain, a Vith Cyan (no Gifts) who defeated the Haitathe using nothing but guile.

THE SPLENDOR OF THE VITH:

Vith Bowerchests were once common in Kana and symbolized the Splendid Age of the Vith. Eventually, through guile, the Sisters ridded the Vith of them and they were forgotten in time. (Carol Phillips)

Vith Bowerchests were once common in Kana and symbolized the Splendid Age of the Vith. Eventually, through guile, the Sisters ridded the Vith of them and they were forgotten in time. (Carol Phillips)

After the Haitathe were defeated and generally removed from Kana, the Vith enjoyed several centuries of unrivaled success. The Vith Households attacked and conquered other non-Vith Households and expanded their influence to out-worlds such as Hoban and Planet Fall. They were flush with their Gifts and became potent with Gellar Magic–as they captured priceless and arcane items for themselves. They became extremely powerful, even more so than the Sisters. They kept their most prized possessions in their great Bowerchests, animated treasure vaults crafted in the shape of great beasts, and the skies over Vithland once shone with their wings and the land trembled with their passing. The Sisters, in concert with the other six tribes, conspired to de-power the Vith, and, over time, were successful and rid Kana of their Bowerchests.

ATTRIBUTES OF THE MODERN VITH:

The Vith are loyal and brave and always eager to meet a challenge. They are honest to a fault and will go to great lengths to keep a promise. They are said to be immune to the cold of the north, and are fearless as well.

They are characteristically tall and lean. The “Blue” traits of the old Vith have mostly been suppressed by inter-marrying with other bloodlines, however Vith blue-eyes and blue hair still exists in some Households. Many Xaphan Households still show the “Blue” traits.

The Vith language for a time was headed to extinction, however modern efforts to bring it back into use has met with success.

Most Vith Households mint their own currency. Vith currency is known as the hader and is usually on-par with SBL solaris.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

StG: The Order of Lacerta

January 29, 2014

Every organization, no matter how well run and organized, has its disaffected membership, and the Sisterhood of Light is no exception.

Member of the Order of Lacerta (Carol Phillips)

A member of the Order of Lacerta (Carol Phillips)

It is a little-known fact that the Sisterhood of Light occasionally has a problem with its Sisters going missing. The Sisters live a stern life. They deny themselves the luxury of good foods and nice fabrics, they sleep on slabs and train their formidable minds nearly all day long.

Understandably select members sometimes tire of it–they fall and flee from the sect. Most of the time they are quickly caught and punished by the Sisters at Twilight 4, never allowed to leave the confines of their strongholds again. Occasionally, they managed to evade capture and drift about the League like a refugee. The safest place from them to go is Xaphan Space. There, they stake out their territory and become members of a Shadowy group known as the Order of Lacerta. In the mythology of the League, Lacerta of the Midnight was the youngest daughter of Homma, and she often fled from his side.

The Order of Lacerta is a dark inverse image of the Sisterhood of Light. The “Lacertas” are everything the Sisters are not. They love wearing rich clothing and eating tasty foods (It is a fallacy that they only wear black–they often enjoy dressing in gaudy colors). They become obsessed with tobacco, illegal drugs, menthols and sex. They learn to use their mouths (the Sisters themselves never speak), and they love using profanity. They also have none of the inhibitions of the Sisterhood and often hire themselves out as mercenaries and bodyguards, using the money they make to fuel their addictions. A Lacerta is, without question, one of the most dangerous enemies one can face. Using their minds, they are impossibly strong, they can kill with a glance, they can scatter whole armies with a wave of their hand. Their power does, however, fade over time, though even a greatly de-powered Lacerta is very dangerous. Apparently the Sister’s power partially comes from the disciplined lives they lead.

One of Paymaster Stenstrom's most persistent enemies is a Lacerta who, seemingly, won't die. (Eve Ventrue)

One of Paymaster Stenstrom’s most persistent enemies is a Lacerta who, seemingly, won’t die. (Eve Ventrue)

Their influence in Xaphan Space is very localized and never far-reaching. The Sisters continue to hunt for them, and, when captured, they are re-taken to the League. They also tend to fight amongst themselves as they vie for wealth and power and duels between Lacertas are frequent–it is said they wage their duels on an uninhabited planet free from onlookers or distractions. They also become enslaved to their addictions and often fall to them over time. The wealth they amass tends make them irresistible targets for Xaphan Warlords to attack and plunder. With the prospect of rich spoils in the offing, Xaphans will team-up and spend years planning their attack. Such planning is crucial as Lacertas are deadly opponents.

The Xaphan House of Midas invented a deadly device specifically to assassinate Lacertas and Black Hats called a “Hemolizer“. Forged of metals that can pass through a Lacerta’s TK field, a hemolizer can kill a Lacerta or a Black Hat in minutes.

stgcover-front It certainly isn’t easy being a Lacerta. See a particularly vile and foul-mouthed Lacerta in “The Shadow tech Goddess”, coming soon from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia, Eve Venture and Carol Phillips.

StG: Epochs of Time

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 planet Eng was home to the League in the DX Time Epoch (Carol Phillips)

The planet Eng was home to the League in the DX Time Epoch (Carol Phillips)

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.

The Sisterhood of Light and the Elders drove the League across the cosmos in the early days (Eve Ventrue)

The Sisterhood of Light and the Elders drove the League across the cosmos in the early days (Eve Ventrue)

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.

The Monama peoples of southern Kana are not Old League--they are indigenous to Kana and were incorporated into the League in the EX Epoch.

The Monama peoples of southern Kana are not Old League–they are indigenous to Kana and were incorporated into the League in the EX Epoch.

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.

Princess Marilith of Xapndarr--a wild, uncivilized member of Xaphan royalty, ever at odds with the League (Carol Phillips)

Princess Marilith of Xandarr–a wild, uncivilized member of Xaphan royalty, ever at odds with the League (Carol Phillips)

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

Sorry I’ve been away–the Con Season has been a pill.

"Tree of Life" by Ewelina Dolzycka.  The plot of Book II is told in this mural, with Carahil in the center as protector, the Planet Xandarr the object of his protection, and, in the wings, a weeping Maiax.

“Tree of Life” by Ewelina Dolzycka. The plot of Book II is told in this mural, with Carahil in the center as protector, the Planet Xandarr the object of his protection, and, in the wings, a weeping Maiax.

Book II, “The Hazards of the Old Ones” is the tale of Carahil and his quest to save the planet Xandarr. Running throughout the book in the background is the story of the god-turned-demon Maiax and the House of Bodice and the terrible tragedy that befalls them. The story is intended to be a parable of sorts, illustrating what happens when the gods interfere too much in the doings of mortal man. Carahil himself makes frequent reference to the story, using it as a cautionary tale in his own efforts to save Xandarr.

The story goes like this:

In 099989EX, the House of Bodice found themselves beset by demons. Their land in the northern Hala region of Kana went bad and they heard never-ceasing drums in the night. They went to the Sisterhood of Light for help, but were politely turned away. The Sisters did not believe their lurid tales–certainly they were over-exaggerating. (As it turns out, the Bodice’ land was sitting directly over the terrible Temple of the Exploding Head, and the demons they saw were the comings and goings of the Killanjo, the skinless servants of the Horned God who lived there.)

"Maiax Deceives the Bodice", by Justine Marie Hedman

“Maiax Deceives the Bodice”, by Justine Marie Hedman

Eventually, the demons became bold and tried to capture the Bodice and drag them below to the Temple where they could be offered up as sacrifice. Just as the Bodice were being carried off to their fate, a great creature came from the sky. It was Maiax, a god in the form of a gigantic elephant. He had seen the Bodice’ misfortune and had taken pity on them. Fierce and terrible, the demons rightly feared Maiax and they fled. Maiax became the patron god of the Bodice and he defended them faithfully for years. The LosCapricos weapon of the House of Bodice became the MAIAX, a little soapstone carving of an elephant that would summon Maiax himself when needed.

"Maiax in Flames" by Ewelina Dolzycka  Storytellers eventually cast Maiax as a liar and deceiver who personally oversaw the death of the Bodice

“Maiax in Flames” by Ewelina Dolzycka. Storytellers eventually cast Maiax as a liar and deceiver who personally oversaw the death of the Bodice

The problem with this arrangement was that Maiax was violating the Universal Rule of Balance. The gods cannot directly intervene on behalf of man. As a god, Maiax should have inspired the Bodice, provided leadership and offered advice, not directly defended them. In doing so, he brought a fearsome fate down upon their House, and they were all eventually burned alive in the Temple after first having been made to slowly starve and go mad in the cold emptiness of space. Once the Bodice were all dead, Maiax himself was punished by the Celestial Arborium. He was turned into a demon and sent to the Windage of Kind–the hell of the gods.

The Sisterhood of Light realized they failed the House of Bodice. They erected a statue in the ruins of their manor and created the holiday St. Porter's Day in their honor (art by Carol Phillips)

The Sisterhood of Light realized they failed the House of Bodice and erected a statue in the ruins of their manor. They created the holiday St. Porter’s Day in their honor (art by Carol Phillips)

In time, Maiax’ role in the death of the Bodice changed. Over three thousand years of telling and retelling the story, Maiax became not a protector of the House, but a deceiver, a liar, a demon revealing in their destruction who personally oversaw their deaths in the temple. When the Sisterhood of Light created St. Porter’s Day in their honor, they placed it at the extreme opposite end of the calendar as Maiax’ traditional feast day, to separate them as far as possible from their “destroyer”.

Eventually, Maiax escaped the Windage, along with Barr, the monkey god, Ibilex the crane and Mabsornath, the cat goddess. The foursome dogged Carahil as he attempted to save Xandarr and even tried to tempt him into becoming a demon himself. Carahil soon turned the tables on them and reminded Maiax of the tragedy of the Bodice. Still feeling the weight of their deaths, Maiax collapsed in misery. Carahil eventually forced the Celestial Arborium to forgive Maiax and the rest, to give them a second chance. Maiax though, was unable to forgive himself.

The story has a happy ending. Gathering his courage, Maiax goes to the spirits of the Bodice in Paradise to beg them for forgiveness (something he was forbidden to do as a demon). To his surprise, they are overjoyed to see him. They surround him and sing his name. They tell Maiax the one thing they lacked in paradise was him, and that they had missed him. He joins them in celebration forever.

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia, Ewelina Dolzycka, Justine Marie Hedman, Carol Phillips

It’s odd. I’ve been working on the latest LoE manuscript: The Shadow tech Goddess for almost three years. It’s been, by far, the longest slog I’ve ever had in writing a book.

"Carahil's Busy Morning" (Artwork by Carapaulo)

“Carahil’s Busy Morning” (Artwork by Carapalou)

And then, there’s Carahil’s Busy Morning, a children’s book I decided to write on a lark which took me about five minutes to finish.

Well, not so fast, let me explain…

I’d learned a few things going to shows over the years. One: books that really sell are YA and children’s. I hate to say it, but that does seem to be the case. Most of the people browsing around are parents looking to buy a book for their kids. My science fiction books (richly illustrated by Carol Phillips) tend to catch the eye, People passing by often stop, pick one up, and ask “Are these books for kids?”

Kids?? Of course I could have lied and said “Sure … kids will love these.” My LoE series is not for kids–too much violence, too much darkness floating around. It is what it is.

But then I thought about it. One character that is a continual ray of fresh light in the series is Carahil, the Great Nargal Spirit and patron god of the House of Blanchefort. Just a big kid himself, Carahil would do well in a children’s series, and if I ever got around to writing one he would be the subject matter. I put that thought on the back burner and let it simmer.

Carahil and Mabs beginning their life together (Carol Phillips)

Carahil and Mabs beginning their life together (Carol Phillips)

Over time, I wondered about Carahil and his jolly face emblazoned in the pages of a kid’s book. What would the book be about? Would kids understand Carahil’s supernatural origins? Would they identify with his cosmic, star-faring ways?

It occurred to me that all the weirdness in the world really doesn’t matter much, as long as there is a familiar framework in which to paint and give it perspective. And, what could be more familiar than a nuclear family setting–a father, a mother, the kids and all the pressures and situations that come along with such a setting. A family of odd creatures in space is really just the same as the family next door. I began thinking about Carahil’s family.

I knew that Carahil had taken up with Mabsornath, the Cat Goddess seen in LoE Book II: The Hazards of the Old Ones. Mabs was actually the main bad guy in the book, plotting the destruction of the planet Xandarr. Being the straight shooter that he is, Carahil managed to turn Mabs around. In the end, they became close, eventually committing themselves to each other and mutually sharing their secrets (a very big deal among the gods). As the LoE Series progresses, we see Mabs pregnant, and, eventually, the proud mother of seven children. In a vision, Captain Davage and Countess Sygillis see them playing at her feet.

Atha, as a sultry adult and as an innocent child (Fantasio and Carapalou)

Atha, as a sultry adult and as an innocent child (Fantasio and Carapalou)

That’s all I had, Carahil’s children aren’t seen again … until I began writing The House of Bloodstein. In the Temple of the Gods on Xandarr, Lord Kabyl, Lady Sarah and Lord Phillip of Blanchefort go seeking Carahil’s help. Instead of Carahil emerging, a tall, sultry woman with short blonde hair and a glowing visor over her eyes appeared. I immediately knew who it was: Atha, the youngest daughter of Carahil. Unlike her father, Atha is a mysterious and somewhat ominous presence. Her motives are unclear. To prove to Kay that she is in fact Carahil’s daughter, she takes him to Carahil’s Gift Shop in 1000 Carahil Park and shows him a children’s book where she is depicted as a little girl in Carahil’s household. The book was a light-hearted family farce called “Carahil’s Busy Morning” where Atha, as a precocious kid, tends to stir up innocent trouble.

So, then I had it, all at once. I had the characters and I had the setting. In five minutes of working on my manuscript, I also dreamed up a 1000 word story of Carahil and Mabs raising their seven children at the Top of the Universe, encountering surprises, and teaching their kids important lessons. It was the easiest writing I’ve ever done. It just felt right.

Dreaming something up and writing it down is the easy part, turning it into a living, breathing story is hard. As it’s only a 1000 words, the story would need to be driven by the artwork, and that would take an artist of exceptional skill. My good friend BeaKimera, an amazing Manga artist and a representative of many others soon had the solution. Bea embraced this project and showed real enthusiasm. She had a whole portfolio of artists for me to look at, all of whom were immensely talented–one, though, was the clear choice, with a clean Manga style and a flair for story-telling: Carapalou.

Seven months and a lot of hard work later, here we are with a finished book, each page a masterpiece. The end of a long, hard road in publishing is an ISBN and a barcode. CBM now has those things and I can’t wait to share it with the world.

Carahil’s Busy Morning will be available in late June from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia, Carapalou, Fantasio and Carol Phillips.

After Seven books and counting, the LoE Universe has grown by leaps and bounds. It is bursting with characters and places, most of which were created in mere passing and then expanded upon at a later time.

Queen Ghome, by Carol Phillips

Queen Ghome, by Carol Phillips

Queen Ghome is such a character. The name “Ghome” started off life in Book I as a type of Xaphan battleship. Princess Marilith, the nemesis of Captain Davage, flew about in a Ghome 52 battleship. The only thing I knew of the name at the time was that it belonged to some Xaphan tyrant from antiquity.

Flash forward six books. As I puzzled out the plot for LoE Book VIII (or IX depending on which gets published first) is need a villain character and, for some unknown reason, the name Ghome flashed into my head. Without knowing anything about the character, I decided Ghome would be the main villain of Book VIII. I spent a bit of time thinking about the character, and then it hit me all at once.

RULER OF TRIMBLE:

Bad guys are so fun to play with, the possibilities are truly boundless. Queen Ghome’s roots are lost to the ages. She entered Xaphan social circles from nowhere in 000701AX. She had all the assets one would need to thrive in Xaphan society: she was beautiful, had money, was ruthless and cunning and brimming with ambition. Where she came from was always a topic of speculation, most believed she was an exile from the League. She flirted with The Court of George for a time, and even picked up their habit of casual cannibalism.

Queen Ghome's appearance changed frequently, but, her eyes with their terrible, withering stare, were always the same

Queen Ghome’s appearance changed frequently, but, her eyes with their terrible, withering stare, were always the same

Her true rise to notoriety came when she married into the royal House of Trimble in 000715AX. Princess Xoefer of Trimble, the heiress to the throne and one of the most eligible princess in Xaphan space, was seeking a husband to share the rule of Trimble with her and her list of suitors was long. Shockingly, she ended up marrying Ghome, a female, which caused quite a stir having two queens sitting on Trimble’s throne. Rumors flew how Ghome, a mysterious vagabond, managed such a thing, for certainly the princess had been bewitched by her. Queen Xoefer’s fate was not a kind one, as she quickly grew sick and died, leaving Queen Ghome I sitting alone on the throne. The House of Trimble was a potent one, and, as was Xoefer before her, Queen Ghome became the most sought-after woman in Xaphan space.

Her lore grew quickly. For one, she was a tyrant of the most despicable sort. Cruel and despotic, she was given to fits of rage, paranoia and occasional madness. She carried a spiked scepter forged of iron and rarely hesitated to use it when the mood struck her. Also, her appearance changed often, not simply changed in terms of hairstyle, hair color or wardrobe, she looked like a completely different person with only her scepter and her eyes giving her away.

She planted and designed her infamous Garden of Zama, a gigantic garden and reflecting pool near Trimble Palace off the west lawn. The garden was huge, with many intricate paths leading in a bewildering, maze-like tangle. It was populated with an endless host of deadly carnivorous and poisonous plants cultured and developed by Queen Ghome herself.

WAR WITH THE LEAGUE:

Many suitors came to Trimble seeking Ghome’s hand, and her price for entertaining these suitors was invariably a quest to fetch some item or parcel of land which would end up in war with the League. Many Xaphan Houses were severely weakened, and a few went extinct altogether as a result of these wars.

VEHELM OF WAAM AND GHOME II

One of the suitors for Ghome’s hand was a tiny man from Gothan named Vehelm of Waam who was a noted maker of fabulous jewelry. Ghome created a workshop for him in her Garden and compelled him to make for her a new treasure every month otherwise she would allow him to starve or be killed in the depths of the Garden. To the surprise of many, he survived and became a favorite in her court.

An odd change came over Ghome at that time. She appeared to have experienced some sort of revitalization or rebirth. She cast aside her thuggish ways and became a true visionary and leader for her people, with Vehelm of Waam at her side. The people began referring to her as Queen Ghome II as she led them into a new age of prosperity and learning. Ghome II stopped carrying her iron scepter and had the Garden of Zama walled up tight.

THE END OF QUEEN GHOME:

The Horvath Creeper and the Aboleth Lilly were just a few of the deadly plants Queen Ghome cultivated

The Horvath Creeper and the Aboleth Lilly were just a few of the deadly plants Queen Ghome cultivated

As with all things, this age of enlightenment didn’t last. Queen Ghome II reverted to her old ways with a vengeance and ordered Vehelm of Waam executed. This tyrannical Ghome became known as Queen Ghome III and was the worst of the lot by far.

But, by this point, Ghome had alienated too many Houses and the end was near. The House of Sorrander came in force and subjugated Trimble. They toppled Queen Ghome’s palace and burned the Garden of Zama to the ground. The Sorranders then occupied Trimble for five centuries.

What became of Queen Ghome after that was unknown. It was assumed that she was killed during the Sorrander attack, though her body was never found.

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

The Horvath Creeper in its favorite setting. (Carol Phillips)

The Horvath Creeper in its favorite setting. (Carol Phillips)

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