HoB: Waiting for #6

January 8, 2015

Nobody’s perfect.

In Book V: The Temple of the Exploding Head, the heroine of the story, Lady Sammidoran of Monama, is transformed into a homicidal Berserkacide bent on killing her love, Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort. The Berserkacide detested everything Sam loved. It hated “Kay” most of all, and he shot her dead in the ruins of the House of Bodice.

Sam waiting in the Grove at the foot of Carahil's statue (Painting by Fantasio)

Sam waiting in the Grove at the foot of Carahil’s statue (Painting by Fantasio)

Without revealing too much, Sam was returned from the dead about a year later, resuming her relationship with Kay, eventually marrying him in a grand ceremony. Certainly a happy ending.

But wait …

Though it’s not covered in the pages of the book, a lot of things happened in the year or so Sam was in her tomb on Dead Hill. Life, reluctantly, went on. Kay, though heartbroken at the loss of Sam, was an eligible young man, a sought-after prize, and many sought to take his hand. One of the prime suitors, hand selected and approved by Kay’s mother, Countess Sygillis of Blanchefort, was an ex-Black Hat and member of the Xandarr 44 Sisterhood named Domeneau of Holly, or #6 as she was designated within the Xandarr 44 sisterhood.

#6 (sketch by Carol Phillips)

#6 (sketch by Carol Phillips)

She had met Kay briefly while he was visiting the King and Queen of Xandarr. She found him handsome and suitably demure in a Vith-like manner. She made it known to Kay her door would be “unlocked” should he choose to pass through it, though he did not take her up on her offer. Several months later, #6 and a group of her adopted sisters, made the trip to Kana to pray at foot of Carahil‘s statue in the Blanchefort Telmus Grove. The Xandarr 44 had an open invitation to visit the Grove whenever they wished, as they considered Carahil, their savior during the Battle of Xandarr, to be a god. During her visit to the grove, #6 encountered Kay, he wandering alone in the tree-lined passes, lost and still grieving over Sam’s death. Before the day was out, Kay would take solace in #6’s arms. They made love, they would make love many times, #6 occupying Kay’s bed frequently. Once, they made love on Sam’s tomb.

It became a foregone conclusion, that #6 would become the next countess of Blanchefort. She even had a great number of her clothes sent to the castle.

But then, there was Sam, laughing, smiling, back from the dead, ready to resume her life with Kay as if nothing had happened. Sam was in, #6 was out, and she wasn’t happy about it.

As Sam discovered what had transpired while she was dead, she became rather put-off. Sam has quite a possessive and jealous streak and, in her private discussions with Kay’s sister, Lady Kilos of Blanchefort, revealed that she would have hoped that Kay would have grieved over her for the rest of his life. She considered #6 a home-wrecker and a rootless usurping slut. She even thought that forgiving Kay for “cheating” on her while she was dead was a great display of character and charity on her part. Sam found the trunk full of #6’s clothes and sent them back to Xandarr in tatters.

Conversely, #6 developed an intense hatred of Sam, the woman to wouldn’t stay dead. She had been warned in Gods Temple that the spirit of Sam was nearby and would attempt to re-enter the realm of the living. Fearing Sam’s “recorporation”, she snared her tomb with StT’s, intending to re-kill her should Sam rise from her grave. Obviously, her efforts failed terribly.

Sam developed an intense desire to confront and kill #6. She wasn’t proud of those feelings and kept them to herself. She took to creeping out to Carahil’s statue in the Grove to wait and see if #6 showed up to pray. Sometimes she would sit out there all night, waiting in the dark with her claws sharpened.

Sam’s strained relationship with #6 is further explored in LoE Book 10: the House of Bloodstein, coming soon from Loconeal publishing.

copyright 2015: Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips and Fantasio

hbs-start6-update

Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, by Carol Phillips

I’m sometimes asked how I come up with the various characters that populate my books. That’s a tough question to answer, and, if you present two different authors with the same question, you’ll get two entirely different responses. Personally, I don’t have a set process for creating characters. Some come from external inspiration (Thomasina the 19th of Waam was inspired by my grandmother), while others are pieced together over a long period of time (Lady Sammidoran of Monama took a lot of thought and genesis). Others hit me all at once–in just an instant I know everything about them (Lt. Kilos of Tusck is such a character).

I think of all the various characters I’ve toyed with over 8 League of Elder books now, the mysterious Grand Dame from Calvert, Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, EVoR is one of the most challenging, both to the other characters in the books, and to myself as the author. She never fails to surprise and impress.

THE PROFESSOR’S ADVERSARY:

In the early days of the League of Elder, the resident egghead was clearly The Professor, the nameless husband of Lt. Kilos, a man with the seemingly demonic ability to get answers to questions.

The thing with the Professor, he was always a foil, a tool to provide timely information. He was never intended to drive a plotline. Right around Book V, I decided to add a touch of flavor to him. I began speaking of The Hertogs, a group of disaffected scholars and artesans with a bone to pick with the Sisterhood of Light. I hint that the Professor had a “rival” within the Hertogs, an opposite number who was his equal in many ways. This rival matched him in intellect and in the ability to find answers to difficult questions. This rival exceeded him in regards to contacts, resources, plugability, tenacity and overall ruthlessness. That’s all I really had, just a vague concept for a character that was my version of the Kingpin with her little hooks into everything. That was the shadowy, formless beginnings of Hannah-Ben Shurlamp.

An early painting of Professor Hannah-Ben Shurlamp,  by Eve Ventrue

An early painting of Professor Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, by Eve Ventrue

THE GENESIS OF HANNAH-BEN:

Oftentimes, dreaming up the unpublished backstory of your fantasy world is the most fun part of the creative process. A lot of that stuff never makes it to the page, but provides an important foundation to place a story upon; you don’t really see it, but it gives the author confidence to write boldly.

I thought about this person, this unnamed scholar who was to be the Professor’s nemesis. The character seemed to be female in my head, so I went with it. I imagined her dressed from tip to top in frothy white, like an ice princess. As a boy visiting my grandmother’s house in Texas, I recalled a time where a garter snake had somehow gotten into her flour tin, and she wanted it dead. I tipped the tin over and the snake came out and raced across the floor, white like a snowflake until the flour rubbed off and revealed the black scales beneath (BTW-the snake got away to the safety of the backyard). That memory hit me in the face. I pictured my lady as strong and swarthy with an olive skin tone powdered into white perfection. As a child, I always found C.S. Lewis’ White Witch very imposing and threatening, and I wanted a similar vibe for my scholar. I imagined her with a great head of long, bumpy black hair. As my current heroine, Lady Sammidoran of Monama had a similar look, I decided to cram her black hair into a towering white wig with only a few hints of black locks spilling out here and there. So, with a white gown and a white wig with powdered features and hints of raven, I had my lady’s look. I threw in a wand-like system controller glyph as an added touch to give her a witchy quality.

Now, for her name. As the Professor doesn’t get to have a name (why, I don’t know), his wigged and powdered opposite number would have a grand, tangible name to provide a bit of contrast. I wanted her name to sound smart, something concrete and full of cultured bravado. I wanted a name that could be hoisted up in glittering lights. It took me awhile to come up with it–attaching names to characters can be a chore.

Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, as a One-Mile high hologram with the ever-present picture of her husband by Carol Phillips

Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, as a One-Mile high hologram with the ever-present picture of her husband. by Carol Phillips

I had a Black Hat I’d dreamed up in Book 4, Wilhella Cormand-Grande, the Mad Black Hat of Waam. I liked that name and thought about “re-assigning” to my scholar, but, for continuity’s sake, I left it where it was. I toyed with the idea of calling her St. Edna the Beasley. I figured this scholar has every title, degree, accolade and appellation available in the League attached to her, so why not saint as well?? I mean, if you’re going to do something, do it big. (BTW–I have a thing for the name Beasley. I have a book of Cthulhu adventures that I love, and in one of the stories, the bad guys were the Beasley Brothers. I’ve always wanted to use the Beasley name in my works, but always have a change of heart at the end. In Book 7, the band of evil robotic brothers were originally named Beasleys, so Book 7 was almost titled: Against the Beasleys, instead of the more-salty-sounding Druries).

So, anyway, the name Edna and Beasley for that matter simply wasn’t kick-ass and cool enough, therefore I moved on.

While inspecting the Ruins of Chanute Air Force Base in Illinois, I discovered the usual symbol for knowledge and learning is a lamp; a lamp illuminates, a lamp lights the way and throws aside darkness. Lamps were carved in stone all over Chanute, which was a training base. I knew that I wanted the word “lamp” in her name. A key is also associated with learning, to “unlock” the potential of young minds, so I batted around the idea of calling her “Keylamp“. Hmmm, I didn’t know. There’s an idiomatic phrase in Spanish that applies to the name Keylamp: no tiene chiste. It means: it doesn’t have any oomph, no pizazz. Keylamp just didn’t have the right sound. It had no chiste (lol, not really a correct word to use, but whatever) and I wanted my lady to have lots of chiste, so I got rid of the key part and kept the lamp.

I recalled once getting yelled at by a customer by the name of “Ms. Shurlbutt”. I recall this person having an indomitable will, not afraid to make a public scene and really giving me the business. That’s how I wanted my scholar to be: a tower of will. I thought to combine “Shurlbutt” with “lamp”, and got “Shurlamp“. Seemed to be what I was looking for. For her given name, I decided early on, I wanted to add the tag -Ben. I realize “ben” in Hebrew means “son of“, so what’s -Ben doing tacked onto a lady’s name?? I wanted that touch of masculinity in her name to give her an air of macho prowess and bravado. As for the Hannah part, I just picked that out of a hat and found no fault with it.

So, I had her name: Hannah-Ben Shurlamp.

Sketch of Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, by Sarah Smith

Sketch of Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, by Sarah Smith

HANNAH-BEN’S TITLES:

As she is a Professor at the University of Dee in Calvert, Hannah-Ben Shurlamp has a number of post-graduate degrees attached to her name. Her full range of titles and degrees is vast:

Grand Dame Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, Professor Emeritus, University of Dee. EVoR, QrduP. NvPhD. Gran-Sequitor Hobanis-Realis and Knight of Bazz.

Though she was born into the Vith Household of Bloodstein, she married a man from Calvert and lost her title of Lady, instead being referred to as Grand Dame, as Calvert ladies are.

The EvoR is the degree she’s most commonly referred to. The E degree is like a bachelor of arts degree. The vo is akin to a masters, and the R is my version of a PhD. It takes around 200 years to earn an EvoR, so clearly, she’s quite old, though, in standard Elder fashion, she doesn’t show her age physically. All the rest of the titles and degrees, I just made up and haven’t explored much further.

HANNAH-BEN’S HUSBAND:
Professor Shurlamp, by any reckoning, is a buxom and beautiful woman with intellect and wealth that knows few rivals. It strikes people as odd that she chose to marry a singularly average teetotaler from Calvert. She towers over this man in terms of wealth, intellect and sophistication, and he is entirely unaware of the underworld forces his wife commands or the number of people she enriches and ruins on a daily basis. People speculate on the reasoning for the marriage: was it blackmail, a cuckold, a political arrangement?? There had to be something. The reasoning is quite simple: she loves him, she continues to adore him and his picture is never far wherever she goes. And he, of all the people in the League, is the only person safe from her wrath.

Hannah-Ben Shurlamp appears in LoE Book 8: The Shadow tech Goddess and in upcoming Book 9: Stenibelle, both from loconeal Publications.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips, Eve Ventrue and Sarah Smith

The Gender Reversal in Fandom

September 29, 2014

I’m not quite certain when it came into my head.

Stenibelle, by Eve Ventrue

Stenibelle, by Eve Ventrue

I think it was about four years ago. I had been thinking about ways to spice up my character Paymaster Stenstrom, the Lord of Belmont. Oh, I liked him well-enough, I was simply looking for ways alter the mood, to change him up a little and create some cool stories. I hit upon the idea of alternate realities and creating differing versions of him inhabiting differing realities. I allowed my thoughts to percolate, I imagined him as a rogue, a robot, a spirit creature of sort some, as an animal, and … as a woman.

A female Paymaster Stenstrom??

Eventually, I jettisoned most of the alternate ideas, focusing mostly on Paymaster Stenstrom with differing female companions, however, the thought of him as a woman stayed with me and I commissioned Eve Ventrue to paint a portrait of her. The portrait was amazing, and with that, I began writing. Three years and a pot-full of re-imaging later, I’m done and Book 9 of the League of Elder series, Stenibelle, is finished and under post-production.

A female Green Hornet and Kato at the Nashville Comic Con

A female Green Hornet and Kato at the Nashville Comic Con

I’d thought that changing the gender of my already established character was a pretty original thought, however, I might be mistaken. Going to all the Cons that I do across the Mid-West (GenCon, various Comic Cons) I see people Cosplaying characters of another gender all the time. The trend seems to have picked up steam in the last few years.

Mostly, you see ladies wearing “female-lized” versions of male costumes. You see lots of ladies dressed up like Captain America, Iron Man, Spiderman, Superman and a host of others, all customized to be tastefully feminine. Some of the female-lized costumes rolling around the cons are quite striking. Occasionally, but not as often, you see men wearing female costumes, the big difference being the men do not usually attempt to “Masculine” the female costume much.

I take this trend to be an embodiment of a new boldness and freedom that I see all over, that these characters (mine included) are for everyone with the drive and inclination to embrace. Did I come up with the idea of a female Stenstrom all on my own, or I did see something at a Con or on the streets and unconsciously build upon it into a realized work??

Book 9 Cover Concept (Carol Phillips)

Book 9 Cover Concept (Carol Phillips)

Who knows. Doesn’t make a difference. I just think it’s really cool.

Bowl naked

RG

LoE Book 9 “Stenibelle” will be available in mid-2015 from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia, Eve Ventrue and Carol Phillips

Big changes often begin as minor stirrings that grow and grow until there is no stopping it. Such is the case of Countess Sygillis of Blanchefort and the Day of Silent Looms.

The fortune of the House of Blanchefort is pinned on the production of textiles and the designing of men’s and women’s garments. In days past, the Blancheforts produced firearms, however, Lord Sadric abolished the practice and converted his factories to the production of fine fabrics, a craft he took great pride in.

His son, Lord Davage, never took an interest in the business and maintained a staff of well-paid designers to run the factories and create the look of the designs. Whatever the designers wanted to do, Davage signed-off on without much fuss. Occasionally, his sisters, Lady Poe and Countess Pardock, would have some thoughts on certain shades and textures they would like to see implemented, and the designers would accommodate them.

Things changed radically when Countess Sygillis showed up.

Things changed in a big way when Countess Sygillis married into the family (Bea Kimura)

Things changed in a big way when Countess Sygillis married into the family (Bea Kimura)

“Syg” was a vibrant countess, an ex-Black Hat, and she breathed life into the old household. She was in love with her lord and with his castle and all the things that came with it, including the family business. She was given a lavish tour of the factories, the designers proudly showing off their latest creations. In her honor, they created a “red” line of fabrics for the season. Syg, so new to the family, was bewildered by it all.

Time passed. One day, Syg was watching her son, Kay, playing in the Grove with his cousins, and she was inspired. She imagined some clothes she’d like to see her son dressed in. She prepared a few sketches and took them down to the factories. Excited, she showed them to the designers and they promised they would turn the sketches out.

Unfortunately, the designs never came. Undaunted, Syg tried again, and again, always heading down the mountains with her sketches, always the warm welcome and smiling faces at the factories, and always the lack of results. Unlike her husband who took no interest in the factories, Syg was an animal of a completely different color and when she got something in her head there was no stopping her. The “misunderstanding” with the designers was becoming personal fast. The designers began calling Syg “Madame Thimble” behind her back.

She took several self-help courses at the college and taught herself how to sew. She designed swatches and created her own fabrics on a small loom in her study. Getting rebuffed time and time again, Syg had enough. She gathered the designers together and told them in no uncertain terms that she was their boss and she demanded they do as she asked.

The designers politely responded that she was NOT their boss–Lord Davage was, and they would not cheapen the Blanchefort line with her silly designs.

Never provoke the Countess of Blanchefort (Eve Venture)

Never provoke the Countess of Blanchefort (Eve Venture)

Syg was furious. She informed the designers that she not only possessed Lord Davage’s ear, but many other select parts of him as well and that “Hell wasn’t a half-mile off.” That evening, after a furious bout of love-making, Syg gently whispered into Davage’s ear: “Love, may I please sack every one of the designers?”

Nude, glistening with sweat, she showed Davage her designs and insisted she could do a better job. She begged him to let her fire them. “Please let me fire them, Dav! I promise, I’ll take the business to new heights!!”

Too tired to argue, Davage proclaimed Syg could do what she wished in the factories. He had a thought that if Syg fired the staff and failed, then that would give him the excuse to quit textiles and start producing firearms again. So, he had a happy wife and the prospect of restarting the old family business–it was a win/win.

The next morning, armed with her new power, Syg marched down to the factories and fired every designer that crossed her path. The stream of people exiting the factories holding the sack became known as the Day of Silent Looms.

Madame Thimble had struck.

As the various Households watched, Syg took control of the Blanchefort factories, turning our her designs in abundance. Though, not without her missteps, Syg proved to be a capable designer and a shrewd businesswoman. Her designs were bold and daring and, in time, she grew the business, invading fresh new territory, such as Hoban, which had never invested in Blanchefort fabrics.

At long last, Syg was able to see her son in clothes she thought proper.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia, Eve Ventrue and Bea Kimura

StG: The Tempus Findal

July 25, 2014

There are many legendary creatures walking the fringe of rational thought, spoken of in whispers and discussed in the yellowed pages of ancient books.

The Tempus Findal, by Fantasio

The Tempus Findal, by Fantasio

The creature known as the Tempus Findal is one of them.

In the old Vith, Tempus Findal loosely translates as: The One and Only. Most League knowledge of these shadowy and somewhat tragic beings comes from a single person named Mary of Falconer who wrote extensively of them. Mary’s mother, a talented and beautiful woman of the shield known as Samartine of the Falcon, suddenly grew sick and languished. None of the various Hospitalers and learned sages brought in to assist her could do anything correct her failing condition. At some point in the process, Mary received an odd letter in the Posts. The letter was written by someone calling itself the “TF” or “Tempus Findal”. It went on to say that it was an insane supernatural beast of great power, that it had killed many people throughout its existence, and that it was masquerading as a trusted member of her mother’s vast court. It also wrote that it enjoyed select moments of conscience in between bouts of murderous madness, and that was why it had written to her. It claimed it was feeding upon her mother’s energy, and, if it wasn’t stopped, it would destroy her. As a final word, it advised her to arm herself by venturing out to Lake Venera, a lake in a volcano caldera located on the Xaphan world of Midas.

Mary diligently performed research and determined her mother was in fact being consumed by an Extra-Planar entity known as the Tempus Findal. Unable to uncover or thwart this creature alone, she hired a team of mercenaries known as the Sons of the Ram (The “Ramsons”), and together they vanquished it and saved her mother.

THE TEMPUS FINDAL:
The Tempus Findal (TF) is a lonely and contradictory being. It is, at times, relentless, remorseless, utterly insane, incredibly strong, and able to generate an all-encompassing Wall of Fear that cannot be withstood. It is, for all practical purposes, immortal and it may cross the Planes of Reality at will, all the usual controls and defenses in the Hall of Mirrors meant to prevent such crossings are ineffective against it. Once it has locked onto its prey, it will allow nothing to stop it. It will lie, cheat, steal, impersonate and murder to get what it’s after.

Admiral Pax, Lord of Adrastus and admiral in the Stellar Fleet was replaced by a Tempus Findal for a period of time (Eve Ventrue)

Admiral Pax of the Stellar Fleet was replaced by a Tempus Findal for a period of time (Eve Ventrue)

And, at other times, it is nostalgic and reflective. It is fully capable of feeling love, of feeling loyalty and remorse for the things it has done as it wanders from one identity to another. When properly sated, it can often “fall asleep”, forgetting what it is and believing it is simple a mundane person and living the life of a mortal.

But, sooner or later, it always “wakes up” and falls back into madness.

Depending on their mental state, they can appear either intensely beautiful, or singularly ugly.

THE FINDALMARCH:
The origins of the TF are tragic. These creatures begin life as an ordinary, mortal person. The Hospitaler Equation of Opposites states that, for every living being, a predictable number of alternate versions of that being exist across the Planes of Reality. This is also true for the TF however, an Extra-Planar event known as the Findalmarch happens at some point in its life that kills off all alternate instances of this person with the exception of one: one lone survivor. That lone survivor becomes a Tempus Findal, and their existence as an Extra-Planar creature and celestial vagabond begins.

THE KAIDAR GEMAIN:
The lone goal and mission of the Tempus Findal is to locate its opposite and feed upon its energy. A Kaidar Gemain (KG) exists everywhere, in every universe, and it is the energy of these rare, favored souls it seeks to devour. They can detect these individuals across the Planes, even across the seas of time anticipating their coming. Once they discover a KG, they will relentlessly pursue them. It is a “soft” pursuit. It can last years or even decades as they work their way into the KG’s life. They often become a trusted friend or confidant, sometimes they become a lover or a spouse. Like a cuckoo bird invading the nest of an unwitting host, they will kill and replace people as needed to get to the KG. And then they undetectably feed, taking the KG’s energy bit by bit, until they sicken and die. The process can take years. After it has fed long enough, the KG will “sour” and either die or, in worse cases, lose their status as a KG, becoming a Kaidar Gogol, The One who is Almost Everywhere, a raving, pathetic shell of what they once were. When that happens, the TF loses interest, turns its back and moves onto the next KG. During that transitional time, TF goes dormant, it “falls asleep” and forgets itself until it locks onto another KG. It can acquire a new name, develop an occupation, live like a mortal person. It is “happy” during this time, but it never lasts. Its hunger will invariably take it again.

The Findalmarch, the site where the Tempus Findal was created, can kill it (Carol Phillips)

The Findalmarch, the site where the Tempus Findal was created, can kill it (Carol Phillips)

COMBATING THE TEMPUS FINDAL:
Mary of Falconer detailed a number of ways that she and the Ramsons combatted the TF. Although TF’s are immortal, they can still be killed. The site of their Findalmarch, or items taken from that site, can kill them, thus discovering their Findalmarch site is key in combatting a TF. In Mary’s case, the waters of Lake Venera were like poison to it.

Sometimes the TF itself will willingly help bring about its own defeat. The TF is a tragic creature as it can go through periods where it feels great remorse for the suffering it has caused. They have been known, either consciously or unconsciously, to create charms and other trinkets that will allow a wearer to withstand their terrible Wall of Fear. They also brew a potion that, when smelled or swallowed by the TF, will restore their sanity for a short period of time.

Additionally, TF’s can be killed by other TF’s. They are extremely territorial, claiming whatever Plane of Reality they are inhabiting for their own. When two or more TF’s enter the same Plane of Reality, they will detect each other and fight to the death.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips and Fantasio

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

The release of LoE Book 8: “The Shadow tech Goddess” is just around the corner.

Being the eight book is the series, many of the items and weapons appearing in the book have been introduced and covered previously. It’s a persistent issue in a series–how much time should the author devote to going over things that already have been described? You really don’t want to bore a returning reader with the same information and you also don’t want to exclude any new readers.

The person who edited Book 8 had never read any of the previous books and was a bit confused in the beginning. “What’s this” and “what’s that”, she asked in frequent side notes.

I wondered…

I was watching my wife play Mystery Manor, it’s an app on her Ipad that she enjoys. It’s one of those games where you see a lavish static setting filled with unusual objects, and your goal is to find a number of specific objects before time runs out (find the tea cup, find the garden rake, etc). Seeing her play the game, I was struck with inspiration. I envisioned a scene where most of the items and weapons appearing in the book were laid out in one lovely composition. That way, if a reader has a question (for example, “What’s an NTH?”) they can look at the painting and see it first hand. I got Ewelina Dolzycka to paint it for me.

Stenstrom's Office 2

I think it turned out pretty well and covers most of the bases. Some of the objects laid out in the scene are specific to Book 8 alone and have never been seen before.

I had a similar idea previously in a map to the Garden of Horrors, an arcane place visited in the book.

 The Garden of Horrors, by Carol Phillips

The Garden of Horrors, by Carol Phillips

I recalled once visiting a lavish garden in an Egyptian museum during a trip to California. The garden was like a maze filled with hedges arranged like streets, dotted with scented fruiting trees and potted flowering plants. Hidden in the hedges and elsewhere in the garden were a number of small to medium-sized statues depicting various Egyptian deities. A guide told us all the major Egyptian deities were hidden in the garden. They even gave us a small booklet providing clues where they were hidden and spots to check-off when we located them. It was like an egg-hunt locating the statues and we spent all afternoon searching the garden. I don’t think we ever found them all.

I got the idea to include a similar garden in Book 8: the Garden of Horrors, a wondrous place tended by a woman claiming to be the Shadow tech Goddess herself.

stgcover-front

Hidden in the garden were a number of statues depicting the various types of Extra-Planar Entities following Paymaster Stenstrom, the main character. The highlight of the garden was in the center, a hideous monster hidden behind a locked door trying to get at the Paymaster and take his life.

I wish such a garden actually existed, I could spend all day in it.

The Shadow tech Goddess will be out early June, 2014 from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia, Ewelina Dolzycka and Carol Phillips

Tour-Challenge

The amazing Albia series continues with: “The Challenge”. The Challenge is the first book in the Circle of Conspiracy trilogy, which is set in the same universe as the previous Artesans of Albia books. Author Cas Peace has created a world as deep and compelling as it is exciting and full of adventure and characters that will feel like your best friends.

To celebrate the release, Cas is hosting a Rafflecopter giveaway that has been extended until May 9th! The Prizes include a 25$ gift card (Grand Prize), A paperback set of all four Albia books (a $56 value) and Free e-books from over a dozen fantasy writers (myself included). See the bottom of the post for the Rafflecopter Giveaway link!

cas-peaceAbout the Author:

Cas Peace was born in Hampshire UK, in 1957, and has lived there most of her life. Her first career was as a horse-riding instructor, and horses remain very close to her heart. She then spent 13 years working for the British Civil Service before leaving the UK to live in Italy for three years, 1991-1994. She speaks passable but by no means perfect Italian, and loves to return to Italy whenever she can.
Cas’s other great loves are anything to do with animals, especially dogs and horses, (she supports many animal charities) and also singing. Cas loves folk songs and along with her husband, who plays guitar, has performed in many a Southern England folk club. Sometimes they even asked her back! She writes folk songs to accompany her fantasy novels, and offers them as free downloads from her website.

Cover Copy
Book 4 art frontFriend against friend, lover against lover, ally against ally. Conflict is coming …
Nine months have passed since Brynne Sullyan helped forge an alliance between the realms of Albia and Andaryon. A fragile peace reigns as both sides recover from the events of the previous year. Then mysterious raiders strike Andaryon villages. Attempts are made on the life of Albia’s High King. As Sullyan scrambles to find those responsible, unseen enemies threaten to pull apart everything she has worked for, including her marriage.
The alliance begins to crumble, and Sullyan finds herself caught between two monarchs: the king she’s sworn allegiance to, and the man she loves as a father. To betray either one would break her heart, but if conflict is inevitable, she must make a choice …

I am in love with Cas’ brand of fantasy and the manner in which she conducts her story-telling, but, don’t just take my word for it. Here’s is a testimonial from author Janet Morris:

Cas Peace’s Artesans of Albia trilogy immediately sweeps you away: the drama starts with King’s Envoy, continues unabated in King’s Champion, and climaxes in King’s Artesan, yet each volume is complete, satisfying. The Artesan series propels you into a world so deftly written that you see, feel, touch, and even smell each twist and turn. These nesting novels are evocative, hauntingly real. Smart. Powerful. Compelling. The trilogy teems with finely drawn characters, heroes and villains and societies worth knowing; with stories so organic and yet iconic you know you’ve found another home—in Albia.

Now there’s a fourth book on Albia’s horizon: The Challenge, also Book One in Peace’s forthcoming sub-series, the Circle of Conspiracy trilogy, proof of more Albian tales on the way. So start reading now. I, for one, can’t wait to find out what will happen next.

Janet Morris: The Sacred Band of Stepsons; the Dream Dancer series; I, the Sun; Outpassage

Giveaway

Cas has extended her giveaway until May 9th!! Here is the link to her giveaway–don’t miss out!!
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/f0acc33/

copyright 2014, Cas Peace

Albia Publishing

Albia Publishing

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