HOB Legends: Menk

February 7, 2016

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Menk with its Blood Box in the background (Ewelina Dolzycka)

 

Menks are evil spirits often tasked to guard various objects or treasures. They appear in the upcoming LOE Book 10/11: The House of Bloodstein. Menks are horrific in appearance and fearsome in their power.

 

Menks are fixtures of Vith lore. From Vith Household to Household they are varied in their appearance. Menks can appear as famished, lanky humanoids possessing incredible strength and speed. They may also be part human, part animal, with animal heads, claws, wings, tails, etc. They may also be faceless, handless, and footless with metal hands and feet. Menks show little or no outward intelligence or emotion. They exist simply to stalk and kill any who fall into their gaze.

THE CAUL-DE-MENK

As they are varied in their appearance, Menks are also varied in their mystical origins. The most common method is to be cursed into becoming a Menk by a sorcerer or enchantress, who often use Menks to guard their arcane treasures.  Additionally, according to some, if one has lost something precious and somehow loses their life whist searching, they might be transformed into a Menk, condemned to guard lost treasures for all eternity. Other stories speak of a mystical statue known in the Vith language as a Caul de Menk. Those wishing to protect their hoards place these statues on their grounds, hoping to both scare off the curious, and to collect more Menks. These statues are said to have hollow eyes where the light of the Kanan moons, Elyria and Solon, may shine through. If one beholds the glowing eyes of a Caul de Menk, then one is transformed into a Menk forever.

MENK-SIGN

menk-landscape-comp1-2-small

Menk, by Fantasio

Some people and animals appears to be pre-destined to become a Menk later on in life. Such people are said to bear Menk-Sign, where their appearance in mirrors, paintings and photographs appear monstrous, becoming more so as the time of their transformation draws nearer. Some people with Menk-Sign take steps to rid themselves of the condition. The waters of the Indigo River on Hoban are thought to slow the process down, removing it completely in some cases. Xaphan Cabalists have rituals to thwart Menk-Sign. Bartering with a Menk, performing some task for it, will also cure the victim.

 

 THE BLOOD BOX

Whatever guise they take, Menks are fearsomely powerful and nearly impossible to bring down. Menks keep their vital organs in a separate place called the Blood Box–how they remain alive without their vitals is a mystery. As such, Menks are virtually indestructible. They can absorb massive amounts of damage and continue to function. Arcane weapons and items can do them harm, but only if vigorously applied.

The best way to defeat a Menk is to locate their Blood Box and destroy their organ hidden within, once that is accomplished, the Menk will die. Menks go to great lengths to hide their Blood Boxes. Their boxes can come in many configurations, from a small jar, to a chest, to a whole shrine-like structure, guarded, in turn, by other Menks. The Blood Box can be hidden far away, buried deep or even located on other planets.  Many times, locating the Blood Box is nothing short of Impossible.

DISEMBODIED HEADS

Menks have the ability to remove their heads from their bodies. They often place their heads in elevated, advantageous positions giving them a wide field of vision. They may also summon the assistance of various evil creatures to carry or fly their heads great distances.

bloodstein-purple CroppedMenks give our heroes everything they can handle and more in the House of Bloodstein books, coming soon from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2016, Ren Garcia, Fantasio and Ewelina Dolzycka

 

 

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The House of Bloodstein

June 10, 2015

This fall, the League of Elder book 10, The House of Bloodstein (HOB) will be published.  It’s the first of two HOB books, this one subtitled: Perlamum, and the second: Mentralysis. The second, already finished, will be out in 2016.

The House of Bloodstein cover.  Painting by Carol Phillips

The House of Bloodstein cover. Painting by Carol Phillips

This little epic began life three years ago. Much as I dislike and complain about NaNoWriMo month as an unproductive and potentially destructive stunt, HOB was, at first, a NaNo project my friends talked into doing.

As with all my books, the finished product is nothing like what I started out with.

My initial thought was to explore the elusive and somewhat austere House of Bloodstein mentioned in previous books and learn a little more about them. The central plot point was a Perlamum tournament between Lady Chrysania of Bloodstein and a mysterious unknown opponent, possibly someone from Xaphan space.

PERLAMUM

In case you’re wondering, Perlamum is a board game rather like chess that is often played between two ladies with a high-stakes wager of some sort placed on the outcome. In a radical departure from chess, the contestants give their game pieces to a person known as the Gamesmaster, who then hides the pieces and sets the date the game is to be played. The pieces can be hidden literally anywhere. The contestants then must recover their pieces using clues left by the Gamesmaster. On the date of the game, the contestants play with what they have collected.

So, with that in mind, the original plot of the book was the courageous House of Blanchefort featuring Lord Kabyl, Lady Sammidoran, and their cousins Sarah and Phillip questing to recover the Perlamum pieces for Lady Chrysania. She then, like a scrappy little trooper, would play her game against incredible odds and come out on top in an inspirational display of the underdog winning out.

Blah!! It read like a bad ABC After School Special, and I wasn’t going to have it like that. I went to work on the story, pouring all the odd bits of my imagination into it, completely revamping the plot and the characters eventually coming up with enough material for two complete books.

No more After School Special.

As you can see from the cover, I think I out-did myself with original story-telling on this one. We’ll meet the Bloodsteins and trouble over their many secrets. We’ll head back to the city of Waam, first seen in Book 4 and stand in the presence of Wilhella Cormand-Grande, the Mad Black Hat of Waam. We’ll trade fists with the House of Wunderluck, bullies from the south, and face the horrid fury of the Dead Men of Mare.

It should be a ton of fun.

copyright 2015, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips and Ewelina Dolzycka

StG: Extra-Planar Entities

December 2, 2013

Production on LoE Book 8: The Shadow tech Goddess is well underway. Featured heavily in the book is the concept of multiple universes/realities and how they interact together.

The Hospitaler Theory of Opposing Mirrors states that, while mass is finite, the number of realities mass can inhabit is infinite. Reality is simply a partitioned, defined reflection of a Common State and, therefore, an infinite number of realities can exist. The farther away a reality exists from the Common State, the more variation will occur.

The Professor discovered and proved the Equation of Opposites, a formula determining how many Wvulgroms of a single person may exist (Bea Kimura)

The Professor discovered and proved the Equation of Opposites, a formula determining how many Wvulgroms of a single person may exist (Bea Kimura)

The threshold from one reality to the next is guarded by a fractional place known as The Hall of Mirrors. The Hall of Mirrors actively prevents passage from one reality to the next. (See future blog post: Hall of Mirrors).

Extra-Planar Entities go hand in hand with this concept. Extra-Planar Entities are, in most cases, beings from a different reality. They can also be beings who have been assigned a special status in the grand scheme of the universe, these select individuals are known as Planarites.

One or more Wvulgroms of Paymasters Stenstrom are female.

One or more Wvulgroms of Paymaster Stenstrom are female. (Eve Ventrue)

Wvulgrom: A Wvulgrom is an alternate version of yourself from a different reality. A Wvulgrom is not a copy of you and nor is it a changeling or doppelganger. A Wvulgrom is you, it even shares your atomic mass, it simply exists in a different reality. They can be of a similar note in terms of wants and needs, or they can be completely different. It is possible for a Wvulgrom of yourself to be either dead or not yet born. Vast gulfs of time can elapse between the lifespans of Wvulgroms. In some instances, your Wvulgrom might look completely different than you do, or, in rarer cases, might be a different gender or might not even be human.

PLANARITES: Planarites are individuals who, knowingly or unknowingly, enjoy a special Extra-Planar status across the various realities.

Kaidar Gemain: The Kaidar Gemain or “The One Who is Everywhere” is a person who exists in all realities. This is a very rare circumstance as most beings do not exist in all realities but only a small percentage (The Equation of Opposites determines how many Wvulgroms of oneself may exist throughout the realities). The Kaidar Gemain commands vast extra-planar powers. People are drawn to him or her. They are often highly lucky, often gifted in unusual ways. The Kaidar Gemain is the pinnacle of extra-planarism.

Merthig: The Merthig is an unusual entity. “Merth” is the old Cammarian word for “soul“, therefore the Merthig is the soulmate of the Kaidar Gemain. The Merthig is most often the pre-selected mate of the Kaidar Gemain, and is with him or her the most (but not always) across the realities. In realities where the two are together, they are both much more potent than they would have been otherwise. The Merthig often displays astounding skills, Gifts or other talents–this they derive from their association with the Kaidar Gemain.

Bellathauser, the left-hand side of Queen Wendilnight is a well- known V Dogan demon (Fantasio)

Bellathauser, the alter-ego of Queen Wendilnight is a well- known V Dogan demon (Fantasio)

Merten: The Merten is almost a Merthig, but not quite. Mertens often times carry encoded messages within their very bodies. The method of extracting the information often times leads to the death of the Merten.

V Dogan: Possibly one of the most bizarre of all the Planarites, the V Dogan is a type of demon that has escaped its universal shackles and exists within the Nodes of Reality. The V Dogan has no fixed place of universal residence and can appear out of any Hall of Mirrors. They attempt to get past the Anatameter and exit via the Hall of Mundane, though they are normally unsuccessful. In cases where a universe had become a Spiralata, the V Dogan is more likely to be successful in escaping. V Dogans are spreading, multiplying like a virus and, just when one has been destroyed, another pops up again elsewhere. They tend to create chaos and are generally quite destructive to the fabric of the universe it has contaminated, often leading to destruction by the Shadow tech Goddess.

A V Dogan can look and act completely different, depending on the Node of Reality they appear from. They can, on occasion, be reasonable, other times they can be mindless and demented. They are persistent and extremely difficult to be rid of. The cybernetic creature Bellathauser is a known V Dogan demon.

The Tempus Findal (early conceptual  sketch by Fantasio)_

The Tempus Findal (early conceptual sketch by Fantasio)

Tempus Findal: Much has been written regarding the odd, lonely creature known as the Tempus Findal, the One and Only. This entity exists in only one reality. It is the soul survivor of a Planar Event known as a Findalmarch in which all but one aspect of itself dies. This lone survivor becomes a creature of immense destructive power. It is immune to the Hall of Mirrors and can cross the planes however it wishes, it can appear fair or foul. It can create heart-stopping fear and has the strength of twenty men. The only way a Tempus Findal can die is either at the place of its Findalmarch, by an artifact of the place or by the hand of another Tempus Findal.

It, more than any other creature, is drawn to the Kaidar Gemain. Once it detects one, it will travel across the universe if it must to get to him or her. It will kill any in its path, especially the Merthig whom it takes great delight in killing, and then it will latch onto the Kaidar Gemain and bleed him or her dry, feeding like a parasite though it can appear charming and benevolent. Once it becomes gorged with power, it will sometimes forget what it is and believe it is a simple mortal again, but always, its hunger will grow and drive it mad afresh. If two Tempus Findals enter the same reality, they will locate each other and fight to the death.

A Tempus Findal, if allowed to feed unchecked, will drain a Kaidar Gemain such that they fade out of existence in a reality and, therefore no longer exist in all realities. They become a sad, forlorn creature called a Gogol and fade from existence.

These Extra-Planar Entities and many more appear in The League of Elder Book VIII: The Shadow tech Goddess coming soon from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia, Eve Ventrue, Bea Kimura and Fantasio

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

CAROL PHILLIPS is working away on the horrific cover to Book V, The Temple of the Exploding Head. It’s coming along quite well with the enhanced lighting adding mood and drama to the scene.

As Carol puts it:

Light and shadow is a really important part of creating mood in a painting. It can take a boring painting and make it look really awesome, or if done incorrectly, can make it look flat and dull. I learned early on it was important to pay attention to your various light sources and always keep them in mind while creating your piece. It is a key point in creating a believable environment, character or creature and can make or break your artwork.

"The Temple of the Exploding Head" by Carol Phillips

Creating an environment from your head can be tough and it can be difficult to keep your light source in mind. A good thing to do, is to mark out the direction of your light source with an arrow (on a separate layer or lightly on your drawing,) to remind you while painting where the light is coming from. It also helps with confusion of multiple light sources. Working from your head you probably wont get things 100% real life accurate but if you keep the light sources in mind it will help to make your work seem possible.

It’s also important to keep in mind if your light is warm light ( fire/ candle) or cool light (could be found out doors). It is especially challenging when working with both cool and warm light sources on a piece like the Temple, but using warm and cool lights can add a lot of drama and interesting colors to a piece.

Look how the warm fire light brings out the depth of the Temple, lighting up the back tiers giving the viewer a hint how wide the Temple is, while the cooler lighting provides a sense of loftiness and imposing height. With the lighting in place, you can see what was previously hidden behind the more prominent tiers of statue and pillars. With the orange light, the Temple looks more unsettled, more wild and dangerous, which is the impression the viewer should be getting. I can only imagine what the scene will look like when the character layers are turned on.

See the difference when only the cool lighting elements are displayed. The Temple looks calm, peaceful even, like a football stadium before the football game starts. Even though the place is festooned with horrific images, the lighting makes it seem at peace. It also loses all of its depth, with the deeper parts of the temple lost in shadow. The Temple seems much taller rather than wide in the cool lighting.

Book V, The Temple of the Exploding Head will be available for purchase November 2011.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

Book V Cover Update

June 29, 2011

"The Temple of the Exploding Head" by Carol Phillips

The Book V cover is coming along and artist Carol Phillips is ready to start painting which is always fun!

We had a number of challenges to address with this particular cover. First of all–how do we convey the sheer size of the place?? The Temple is a mile long and half a mile wide–that’s a rather large area to say the least. It’s also a thousand feet high and filled with over 100,000 bad guys: the Vatican has nothing on the Temple as far as size goes. To tackle this problem, Carol opted to give the place a slightly more confined, penned-in feel while giving clear indications that there is a lot more Temple than what can be seen at a glance. Also, there’s a constant thunderstorm raging inside the temple, which Carol has boiling up in the heights (I always remember my mother saying to come in from the rain where it’s safe–where no harm can come to you. I wanted it storming on the inside of the Temple as if to say: “It’s NOT safe in here!)

More Designs (Carol Phillips)

I entreated Carol to go over the top on this cover–this is the Temple after all we’ve waited two whole books to get to it and I wanted it to be unabashed in its evil.

Pillar detail (Carol Phillips)

There’s certainly nothing subtle about the Temple. I wanted skulls and leering faces and raging mouths everywhere.

As Carahil has been a usual fixture of the past books, he’s present here in this one as well: can you see him???

I’ve always had a love for the work of Keith Parkinson going way back to my unprincipled D&D days in college and I wanted the cover to be as beautifully creepy as his works used to be (Keith Parkinson’s passing was a great loss for us all)

And then there’s Kay hiding behind a pillar, a fly in this evil ointment. Sort of like when the criminologist comes on in Rocky Horror Picture Show and everybody boos, his presence indicates that the party’s over.

copyright 2011 Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

THE XAPHANS HAVE KNOWN OF THE FLESHLESS DEMONS THAT STEP OUT OF THIN AIR FOR CENTURIES. The outlying League worlds also know of them. On Onaris, they’re called Jennybacks, on Bazz: Fa Zemlas. The most common name for them is the Xaphan name: Killanjo.

"Killanjo in the Mirror" by Carol Phillips

Killanjo are almost always horrid versions of a loved one: a brother or sister, a parent or other such relative–though the person they resemble is often alive and well when they make their appearance.

The Killanjo are terrible to behold. Their bodies are bent and mal-formed and are always skinless. As such, they drip and reek. They often have extra appendages fused to their bodies. They are said to wear delicate golden masks covering their bleeding, mutilated faces.

Killanjo often are seen in command of Berserkacides and use them to do most of the fighting and killing. The entire House of Monama appears to greatly fear the Killanjo, that they “watch them” at all times and then force them to do their foul bidding. The ancient Remnath hero, Atrajak of Want, led an army of Monamas against the Killanjo in a series of battles called the Hidden Wars. In Atrajak’s writing, which has been banned by the Sisterhood of Light, he mentions the Killanjo themselves were slaves of a greater enemy he called “The Golden People“, of which virtually nothing is known.

The Killanjo are also conjectured to be out-of-joint in time, possibly from the future. Their skinless, semi-pickled appearance is ideally suited to project their bodies from the theoretical rigors of time-travel.

Lady Sammidoran has a vision of Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort being attacked by Killanjo (by Fantasio)

Their purpose appears to be to create strife and terror, and they are very effective at doing just that. They appear out of thin air and typically fall upon their intended victims when they are most vulnerable. The Killanjo sometimes attempt to kidnap their victims, to drag them away to an unknown fate. The Xaphan House of Prim, which vanished without trace, were said to have been carried off by Killanjo. They are commonly reported to be able to cast spells rendering most people who hear it immobile. They are also cannibals and will eagerly devour the flesh of any who fall under their spell.

They are also said to have several key weaknesses. They fear their own reflection and cannot look at it and, accordingly, will flee from mirrors. Also, they are not reported to be overly strong fighters, having to rely on their spells or their Berserkacides to fight for them.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips