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.

This is the part I hate. This is the part where everything’s turned in, the cover is done, the artwork is (mostly) done, and the only thing left to do is wait for the thing to hit the shelves.

stgcover-front“The Shadow tech Goddess” took me four years to write, and, during that time it went through a number of different incarnations and intentions. I had at first wanted to publish her after Book 2: The Hazards of the Old Ones. She just didn’t feel right–I was floundering around with the concept and, frankly, got a little lost. I decided to focus my energies instead on the Temple of the Exploding Head trilogy, which was bursting out of my head at the time (I always seem to have a Main WIP going, and one in the fire at the same time. The Shadow tech goddess was always “in the fire”, never quite hot enough to be worked and shaped into something useful). Once the Temple was done, then I’d finish up the Goddess. I promised myself that.

I just didn’t have a good grasp of the story even though years had passed. What was the story I wanted to tell?? What interesting concepts would I introduce? I didn’t know.

I was still stuck.

Putting it aside, I decided to finish up the Sands of the Solar Empire, and then I’d get to the Goddess.

Time passed. Sands and Against the Druries came and went. I intended to concentrate on the House of Bloodstein–a tale dealing with my old favs, Lord Kabyl and Sam, the new ne-countess of the House of Blanchefort. Once again the Goddess eluded me and settled into the less swift current of my brain. My publisher, James Barnes, asked me what titles I’d have ready for 2014, if any. I had it in my head to say “House of Bloodstein”, but my mouth rebelled and said “Shadow tech Goddess” instead. James took it and ran.

And so, I was committed with a WIP that had whipped me into submission for years.

The "Back Cover" of The Shadow tech Goddess, with blurb. Enlarge to read text

The “Back Cover” of The Shadow tech Goddess, with blurb

THE LOVES OF PAYMASTER STENSTROM:

I think my issue all along was boredom. I was bored with Paymaster Stenstrom and his presumptive fiancée, Lady Gwendolyn of Prentiss. I love creating relationships, and, Gwen seemed to be the winner in this case, what else was there to write about?? I got it into my head that I wanted to write about different loves–lots of them, each one full of hidden possibilities. I greatly value loyalty in a hero–a hero to me must be, above all else, loyal and trustworthy. So–how could I have Stenstrom indulge in many torrid relationships and have him remain loyal at the same time??

Alternate realities was the answer, and, once I came to grips with that idea the rest was easy. I dreamed of arcane devices and Extra-Planar entities. New corners of the League opened up to me and places never seen danced in my head. Eventually, after a writing binge, I had seven stories ready to go, each dealing with a different love of Paymaster Stenstrom, or “The Turns of The Shadow tech Goddess“. Central to the Turns is the main story which begins and ends in one book. In the book are mentions and casual asides of characters and situations that are not covered to any great degree. Did I make a mistake? Did I pick up an interesting plot thread only to forget about it pages later? No way! They are covered in the six novella-sized stories which are related to the main story. The novellas detail important events which help to bring the main book to be, a la, the hand behind the stage pulling a rope that draws the curtain. Lord A-Ram and Lady Alesta of the Pilgrims of Merian serve as guides shuttling between the books. They often disappear in StG–they are off assisting the “other” Paymaster Stenstroms.

Stenibelle_IISTENIBELLE:
In an alternate universe, Paymaster Stenstrom is not a man and his House is on the verge of extinction. The disgraced 30th daughter of the House of Belmont will either be the final stake driven into its dying heart, or the ray of light that comes to save it.

MELAZARR
Can a crass, foul-mouthed Xaphan woman from Caroline actually be the vessel carrying information that can save all things? Paymaster Stenstrom struggles to keep her alive and, discovers in the process, the amazing woman hidden under her bravado.

ATD 5TAARA
Tiny Taara de la Anderson is Stenstrom’s right hand, always loyal and brave. Does she dream of different things, and how far will she go to get what she wants?

KAT
He felt her claws raking his chest in the cold of the Clovis ruins, and now here she is again at his throat. Who is Kat, and can she believed? What demands does she make of him? The Shadow tech Goddess comes to call on an old debt.

THE ALL-IN-ONE
He awakens in a pit and is the slave of the Lacerta. He hears many voices in his head and remembers many things he himself has never done. He is all aspects of himself, yet he is none of them. He can try to escape the Lacerta’s pit, but, where will he go? Is he better off dangling in the dark dreaming of things other people have done?

THE TEMPUS FINDAL
Of all creatures, the Tempus Findal is the most horrid. She believes she has her own place at last where her insidious power will not destroy. The Gods of Cammara will give her no rest and might undermine all she has attempted to build.

The Shadow tech Goddess will be out March 2014 from Loconeal Publishing. The novellas will be published approximately every three months afterward.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia

StG: The Hall of Mirrors

December 27, 2013

The next book in the League of Elder series, “The Shadow tech Goddess” deals with extra-planar activity, the crossing of one plane of reality to another. A key concept when dealing with “reality-jumping” is a place called The Hall of Mirrors. The Hall of Mirrors is heavily featured in the book.

The Hall of Mirrors is the threshold from one plane of reality to another. If one wishes to cross into another plane of reality, one must first cross through the Hall of Mirrors, and that is not a simple task. Jumping from one reality to the next is dangerous to the well-being of the universe as a whole and the Hall exists to actively prevent such a thing, and, possibly to punish or eliminate those attempting to do so. It is not a naturally occurring phenomena, however its creators and custodians are unknown.

SUMMONING THE HALL:
It is possible to summon the Hall of Mirrors to oneself via technological, arcane and telepathic means. Those consciously seeking to pass through the Hall tend to draw its wrath much more than those who unconsciously summon it via telepathic means.

AN UNFASTNESS IN SPACE AND TIME:

Map of the Hall of Mirrors, by Ewelina Dolzycka

Lord A-Ram’s hand-drawn map of the Hall of Mirrors, by Ewelina Dolzycka

The Hall of Mirrors has no set appearance or size, yet it has a rigid set of characteristics which, no matter what it looks like or how big it is, are always present. It has no set location or place of habitation and can appear anywhere given the correct circumstances. The accepted rules of time and space do not apply when within the Hall. Time might stop when inside the Hall, or ages may pass.

It has two specific parts, the Hall of Mundane and the Hall of Possibilities

THE HALL OF MUNDANE:
The Hall of Mundane (HM) is the entry point to the Hall. It is where one came from and almost always where one exits. Given the changeable nature of the Hall, it is very difficult to know when one is inside the HM and when one is not. Some people, be it intentionally or unintentionally, have the ability to summon the Hall of Mirrors to them and spend a great deal of their lives rolling about within the HM, blissfully unaware of where they are. People with his ability are known as Mirrorbrugs and are valuable commodities to those who actively seek to penetrate the Hall.

The HM is a safe portion of the Hall of Mirrors. Moving about in it does not trigger the potent defenses lurking in the second part of the Hall: The Hall of Possibilities.

THE HALL OF POSSIBILITIES:
The next section of the Hall of Mirrors is the Hall of Possibilities (HP). Like the previous Hall, it too has no set appearance and can look like anything, however, those actively seeking to pass through it often describe the HP as looking like a dank stone corridor running to the left and right. To the left is the next plane of reality and the exit of the Hall. To the right is the chamber of a destructive entity known as the Shadow tech Goddess. The Shadow tech Goddess is the main defense of the Hall and those entering the HP invariably stir her up and draw her ire.

THE ANATAMETER:

Extra-Planar Entities, like the dreaded Tempus Findal, are immune to the defenses in the Hall of Mirrors and pass through as they wish (Fantasio).

Extra-Planar Entities, like the dreaded Tempus Findal, are immune to the defenses in the Hall of Mirrors and pass through as they wish (Fantasio).

Guarding the intersection between the two Halls is a device known as the Anatameter. The Anatameter is the key, the locked door preventing passage from the HM to the HP. With it in place, almost all attempts to pass are thwarted, most do not suspect they were ever in the hall or Mirrors and encountered the Anatameter in the first place. It is not completely foolproof as certain Extra-Planar Entities are able to pass it without notice. The Anatameter devices are created by a skilled set of craftsmen known as the Anamatics. It appears to be the case that the Anatameter takes on the intent of the Anamatic who created it. If they are kind, then the Anatameter will behave in a kind fashion and not harm those trying to pass it. If they are cruel, then bad things will happen to those encountering it, including the unleashing of the Shadow tech Goddess.

CUSTOM ANATAMETERS:
An Anatameter may be created specifically for certain individuals. Anamatics sometimes do this, though the payment they require is said to be quite steep. In such cases, the Hall of Mirrors will be drawn to that person at their peril.

Professor Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, EVoR (Eve Ventrue)

Professor Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, EVoR (Eve Ventrue)

THE NODES OF REALITY:
Within the Hall of Possibilities are alcoves cut into the stone at regular intervals, these are the Nodes of Reality. The function of the Nodes is not well understood. They are thought to be a Minor Defense of the Hall and are invoked when ones gains access to the HP. Some scholars, like Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, EVoR of the University of Dee, speculate that one’s true love or one’s greatest enemy emerge from the Nodes and serve as a passive distraction to those entering the HP.

THE SHADOW TECH GODDESS:
Possibly the least understood facet to the Hall of Mirrors is the entity known as the Shadow tech Goddess. She inhabits the right-hand portion of the Hall of Possibilities and is meant to destroy any attempting to pass through the HP. She is like a coiled-up trap, waiting to strike. There is no known method of defeating her, though it has been speculated that discovering her true identity disarms her to some extent. Occasionally she has been known to continue on out of the Hall of Mundane and destroy everything she encounters, making her a Destroyer of Universes as well. She had been known to become interested in certain individuals and draw them to her–her reasoning behind this is unknown. She is said to wear a helmet completely covering her face and a robe of living Shadow tech.

The Hall of Mirrors appears in LoE Book 8, “The Shadow tech Goddess”, due out February 2014 from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia, Ewelina Dolzycka, Fantasio, and Eve Ventrue

I’m proud today to celebrate the amazing creations of author Cas Peace and her vivid Artesans of Albia series.

banner - small

Cas is celebrating the re-launch of her series with The King’s Envoy under her new imprint Albia Publishing. Cas has weaved a world of mystery and adventure that is rooted in magic and in nature. There’s a new surprise around every corner, and, if you’re able to put the books down, you’ll wish was has unfolded before you wasn’t mere fantasy, but a real place full of good friends and unspoiled landscapes to get lost in. But, don’t simply take my word for it:

“One of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read. The balance between background story and action is just perfect. I’m very glad I found this author. You won’t want to miss this series!” ~Denyse Cohen, author of Witch’s Soulmate, Book 1 of the Living Energy Trilogy

“Splendidly written in a wonderful voice, drew me in immediately. Ms. Peace’s imagination alone gets 5 stars. Spectacular worlds and enchanting scenes. Anyone who enjoys losing themselves in a world of a charming fantasy with plenty of layers and a host of intriguing characters won’t be disappointed!” ~Rosary McQuestion, author of Once Upon Another Time

“As soon as I finished this book I was eager to start the next. I highly recommend this book. Great Job!!” ~Janus Gangi, author of Elizabeth Rose and That Morning After

Series Synopsis: On a foolhardy foray into a foreign realm, Taran Elijah is attacked by a terrible weapon known as the Staff. Killing its wielder, he escapes into Albia, inadvertantly carrying the Staff. Concerned by the vicious raids that follow Taran’s actions, Major Sullyan of the High King’s forces crosses into Andaryon to seek diplomatic resolution to the crisis. She is captured and tortured by Lord Rykan, aspirant to the Andaryon throne.
Slowly dying, Sullyan escapes his clutches. She offers her skills to the Hierarch in defense of his throne, finally confronting Rykan on the field of battle.
Her handsome Captain and lover, Robin Tamsen, embarks on a desperate quest to recover the Staff. But Rykan’s greedy General, Sonten, is two steps ahead of him. If Robin cannot lay hold of the weapon before Sonten does, Sullyan’s life and the lives of all Artesans are forfeit.
The race for the Staff has begun.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

cas-peaceCas 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.

promo_posterALBIA GIVEAWAY:
Cas is currently hosting an amazing giveaway featuring a vast selection of authors (yours truly included).

The Giveaway ends on December 19th, so do hurry to join in.

Here is the link for the giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/f0acc32/

AUTHOR LINKS:
Website: http://www.caspeace.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cas.peace?fref=ts
Book Songs: http://www.caspeace.com/downloads/songs


AN INTERVIEW WITH ROBIN: Robin Tamsen is a captain of the manor under Major Sullyan. He is just one of the many fascinating characters populating the domain of Albia. Let’s hear what he’s got to say:

Q: Where are you from?

A: I come from a small village called Lychdale. That’s in Garon Province, in south west Albia.

Q: How has your home village shaped who you are?

A: It’s not so much the village that shaped my life as what happened to my family. I lived there with my parents – my father was a thatcher, my uncle the local smith – and my younger sister, Jessy. I suppose I would have either followed my father’s trade or my uncle’s if not for Jessy’s illness. She was always frail, and when our healer told us she had the wasting disease and would not recover, I applied to the local garrison to be accepted as a cadet in the High King’s forces. My father’s earnings as a thatcher were not enough to provide Jessy with everything she needed to make her life bearable, and becoming a Kingsman was the only way I could think of to help her. What I have achieved, and what I have become, all stem from that first decision, made to help my sister.

Q: In a single sentence, sum up your thoughts on Garon Province.

Garon’s a great place to grow up if you like a quite life; it’s too far away from Port Loxton, the capitol, for anything interesting to ever happen there. And I didn’t mean that to sound as dismissive as it did. Many people live happy and fulfilled lives in Garon. Sorry, that’s more than one sentence!

Q: What is your occupation?

A: I am currently a Captain in the Kingsmen, based at the Manor in Loxton Province, mid-Albia. My immediate superior is Major Sullyan, and we all answer to General Blaine, General-in-Command of High King Elias Rovannon’s fighting forces. I help lead the Major’s unit, and we carry out patrols, peacekeeping duties, and occasionally repel raiders when necessary in Loxton Province. I am also an Artesan, of Adept rank, and I stand for Major Sullyan whenever she needs me.

kings-envoyQ: What are your thoughts on Bull?

A: Hal Bullen, also known as Bull, is Major Sullyan’s aide. He used to be Blaine’s sergeant-at-arms before the civil war which saw Blaine become Elias’s chief General. Bull’s a bit old these days for regular soldiering, although he still trains. He usually sees to the cadets when he’s not with Sullyan. Bull and I get on fine. He loves Sullyan, he’s known her and loved her for longer than I have, and he has a very special place in her heart. He does sometimes treat me like a cadet, which is annoying, but he’s also good at stopping me making a fool of myself when I get a bit hot-headed. I guess you could say I love the old ox, too!

Q: Tell me about Taran. What do you think are his greatest strengths/weaknesses?

A: Taran is also an Artesan, rank of Journeyman. I like him, he has some fine qualities, and he’s not a bad swordsman, either. He’s very loyal, and very honest, although he can be a bit earnest now and then, if you know what I mean? He didn’t have the best of starts in life as far as learning the Artesan craft goes. His father was a strict and uncompromising taskmaster, by all accounts, and I’m not surprised Taran ended up with flaws in his training. He tries very hard, but he has no confidence in himself. I suppose his greatest strength is his refusal to give up on his dream of achieving his potential as an Artesan. This stubbornness did land him in a whole heap of trouble, though! His greatest weakness is definitely a lack of self-confidence, or self-belief. Sullyan’s working hard to help him change that.

Q: If you could visit any place in Albia, where would it be?

A: I think it would have to be the Torlands, in north-east Albia. I’ve never seen true mountains. We did have some large hills to the east of Lychdale, and of course, there are the Downs to the west of the Manor, but the Torlands are reputed to be some of the highest mountains in the world. They are said to be quite specatcular, although how the Torlanders live with all that ice and snow, I can’t think! I’d probably freeze to death, but I’d love to see them someday.

KC_cover1Q: Tell me about Cal.

A: Cal is a good friend of mine. He came here with Taran when Taran was looking for help with that Staff business. Cal is Rienne’s lover, and at first he was a bit quiet, stayed in the background. But when he helped us fight the invasion, the lads realized how useful he was with a sword. He’s one of us now, and I expect him to make Captain one day. He’s great on that little silver whistle he carries, too. And he’s very protective of Rienne. He’s quite dark-skinned, so it’s not always easy to tell what he’s thinking, but you can rely on Cal. He’d never desert his friends. He is a bit too ‘pretty’ though – Rienne’s always mooning over his dark eyes and long eyelashes!

Q: What, if anything, have you learned from Sullyan?

A: If anything? Are you kidding? I’v learned practically everything from Sullyan! Mind you, I was already a Captain when she found me in Garon, and I already knew something about my Artesan powers. I guess the first thing I learned from her was never to judge by appearances. When she and Bull turned up at the Garon garrison, and my commanding officer told me that a Major Sullyan had come from the Manor to speak to me, I though the Major was Bull. Well, he was in combat leathers, while she was just in a shirt and breeches. And she was female! I think it was an easy mistake to make… Still made me feel foolish, though. And I’ve been learning ever since. She’s taught me combat, how to increase my metaphysical strength, how to control my hot-headedness, and also what it feels like to love someone so deeply, you feel you will drown in it. I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning from Sullyan!

Book_3_editedQ: If you could fix a “misstep” you committed, what would it be?

A: Good gods! There are so many … I probably ought to say allowing myself to be drawn into that duel with Parren. That really was a grave mistake, and it could have cost me my career. I still wish I’d—no, never mind—least said about that, the better! I suppose I would change the way I behaved when I first arrived at the Manor. Our little garrison in Garon was so tiny that I guess I got an inflated idea of how important a Captain was. My family were so proud when I was promoted, and I was often in sole charge when my commanding officer was off duty. When I came to the Manor, I became a very green yearling in a huge herd of trained stallions, and I should have kept my head down. Instead, I often behaved quite stupidly. Why Blaine never got rid of me, I don’t know. Well, I do. It was Sullyan who convinced him to keep me. I owe everything to her.

Q: Who stirs your heart?

A: Well, I guess I’ve already answered that one! But I’m sure she’ll forgive me if I say I do have other loves. Sullyan aside, nothing stirs me so well as a damn’ good sword fight. But I also love singing marching songs with Bull, and drinking with the lads after patrol. And I have a very soft spot for Rienne. Not only is she pretty, and very kind, she’s also our healer, and empathic as well. Everyone loves Rienne!

Albia Publishing

Albia Publishing

Apart from that, the only other person to really stir my heart was my sister, Jessy. I still miss her terribly, and wish she had not been taken from us so young. But I know that “soon the Wheel will turn again, and Love unite the past.” That line comes from “The Wheel Will Turn”, the song Sullyan wrote for Jessy at her passing. To think I will one day see her again helps comfort me when I feel sad.

copyright 2013, Cas Peace

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

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

As League sects go, none have more power or authority than the Sisterhood of Light. They come and go as they please, they take what they want, they have their own police force and their own fleet, and they dictate the course of the League. The Sisters are the de-facto rulers of the League.

There is, however, one very outspoken group that mocks and challenges virtually everything the Sisters do: The Hertogs.

The Hertogs are a loose band of disaffected scholars, chefs, tailors, craftsmen and scientists whose ongoing mission is to bring down the Sisters. They operate in secret, their origins and membership are unknown.

The Hertogs insist the Sisters are bizarre and demented and much more capricious then they publically let on.

The Hertogs insist the Sisters are bizarre and demented and much more capricious than they publically let on.

They first came to general attention in 003120AX when they published a book in the city of Jacarta called: The Real History of the League and of the Elders in Particular written by, mysteriously enough, “The Hertogs”. The book challenged a number of key points in ancient League history as told by the Sisters and presented a much darker history, especially regarding the old, departed Elders. Essentially, the book claimed the League is enslaved to the Sisters, claimed they are bizarre and demented, and called for an end to their reign. Predictably, the Sisters reacted badly to the publication, censuring the publisher and calling for an “open debate” with the Hertogs to cover the key points made in the book.

The Hertogs were a no-show to the debates. Instead, they circulated a number of pamphlets claiming the Sisters intended to smoke them out into the open, capture and most probably torture them to death.

Since then the Sisters have gone on a quiet, but persistent, campaign to discover the identity of the Hertog membership. Unfortunately, the Hertogs appear to be adept at avoiding the Sisters’ vaunted Stare as, so far, they have yet to uncover a single one. They suspected Grand Dame Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, EVoR of the University of Dee as being a key member, but they could not prove her involvement. Their search continues.

Hannah-Ben Shurlamp is frequently associated with the Hertogs, though her direct involvement is not proved.

Hannah-Ben Shurlamp is frequently associated with the Hertogs, though her direct involvement is not proved.

The Hertogs are seldom quiet. They publish frequent comments and critiques, usually blasting the latest Sisterhood proclamations. They once, famously, shot holes in a simple article written by a Sister proclaiming her fondness for the lunch menu at the Empire Hotel in St. Edmunds. Such childish antics, their tendency toward paranoia and hyperbole, and their unwillingness to come out into the open tends to lessen their impact and gives the general League populace pause. They are considered to be an interesting, if not entirely credible, voice in the regular postings not to be taken too seriously.

There is word that the Hertogs produced a groundbreaking work called The Splendor of the Vith detailing the considerable power the Vith peoples of Northern Kana once possessed and how the Sisters waged a successful bloodless war to rid them of it. This book, if true, would be particularly damning and could lead to the downfall of the Sisters. So far, the existence of the book is a mere rumor and no copies are publically available to be read.

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips and Eve Ventrue

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