November 16, 2017

I’m planning on compiling the three Temple of the Exploding Head books into one deluxe volume. In going over the material, I re-discovered the Monama people who figure heavily in those books. A pet project of mine, their lore has expanded greatly since I completed the Temple books.




The Horned God, by Fantasio

A celestial being of immense power, the Horned God was worshipped by the Berserkacides for ages. By his command, they built a temple for him and buried it deep underground where they gave him torn and burnt offerings unabashed for centuries. Reveling in the carnage, the Horned God lured in unsuspecting alien beings for the Berserkacides to slaughter.


When he snared the alien beings who came to be known as the Gods in Jade and Sapphire (GJS), the Horned God thought they would make easy prey for his Berserkacides. They proved to be much more resourceful than he anticipated, building cities in the cold north of Kana where the Berserkacides couldn’t get to them. Additionally, the GJS began experimenting on the Berserkacides, eventually developing them into what became the Monama peoples. Unable to compete with the prolific Monamas, the Berserkacides went extinct. Forsaking him, the Horned God haunted the Temple alone for a vast period of time, and, like a spurned lover, he swore vengeance on the Monamas.  He eventually replaced the Berserkacides with the Golden People, whom he bade torment them without mercy.


Modern Monamas are creations of genetic engineering undertaken by an alien species  whom the Monamas referred  to as the Gods in Jade and Sapphire (GJS) for the clothes they wore. These were a decadent people who were at an evolutionary dead end in their development and were mostly infertile. Their lived in windowless cities in the northen reaches of Kana. In the fertile but savage Berserkacides of south Kana, they found possible surrogates to bear their offspring. Too brutal and blood-thirsty to be of any use, the GJS began capturing and experimenting on them with the goal of toning down their bloodlust. After several generations they successfully engineered what would become the Conox Monamas (Mo-Na-Ma meaning the “Bearers of Children”) who were much more docile that the Berserkacides, were extremely fertile, and only had a single pair of arms. Continuing their experimentation, they eventually created the larger Anuian strain, whom they considered to be more successful than the Conox.

The GJS were eventually made extinct by the Horned God’s shape-shifting Golden People, who stole their forms, slaughtered them, and occupied their cities.




The Temple of the Exploding Head, by Carol Phillips

The Temple was a place built deep in the ground by the Berserkacides. Under his direction, they hacked out and shaped each brick with nothing but their bare hands. A colossal structure more than a mile long, they worshipped the Horned God there unobserved by the gods for ages without pause or rest. The Temple became a temporal anchor point due to the rage and suffering that went on there that was eventually discovered by the time-traveling Golden People. Given that the temple created a tunnel into the past for them to harvest slaves and brood-stock for their children, the Golden People continued the practice of worshipping the Horned God there, sacrificing Monamas there by the untold score.



Sinister and inscrutable people, the Golden People served the Horned God as his “Dark Angles” for many ages. Shape-shifting entities from far in the distant future, they rode the waves of time searching for temporal anchor points to latch onto and explore. When they discovered the Temple of the Exploding Head, they found a place rich with potential victims to exploit. Pretending to be subservient to the Horned God, they found the Monama people of south Kana ideal, prolific and disposable warriors for their various conquests, and even developed the ability to revert them in time, transforming them into Berserkacides.


Servants of the Golden People, the Killanjo were hideous beings and primary tormentors of the Monamas. They were invariably victims abducted by the Golden People and placed into a caustic substance that would prime their bodies to the rigors of time travel. This preparation created hideous results and put the victim into a rabid dream state which caused them to behave in a sadistic fashion. They were then sent back in time to do the Golden People’s bidding. They were often skinned and bleeding, with additional parts attached to their bodies. They could cast spells which would render the Elders immobile. They could not bear the sight of their own reflection.


The large, bold, more warlike strain of Monamas are, for the most part, gone from the modern Kanan landscape. In the early days of the League on Kana, the Anuians were many, their numbers on-par or exceeding that of the smaller, more timid Conox Monamas. Large, dense, incredibly strong and fast, the Anuians ruled over most aspects of Monama culture, their language and customs passed onto the more primitive Conox. They were bold, stubborn, and passionate. Rejecting weaponry, Anuians always fought with their hands.

Monamas AnuiansThe Anuians also were more inclined to fight back against the enemy: the Horned God and his angels–the Golden People, their constant tormentors. When the League came to Kana, the Anuians were impressed by their technology and presented themselves to their local warchief, a man called Atrajak of Want. They even presented him with a gift: a princess of the Nebulon tribe. Following Atrajak, they embarked on a long series of battles with the Golden People, confident he would lead them to victory. Losing his mind after a failed attempt to attack the Golden People on their home world, Atrajak was executed by the Sisterhood of Light. Without their leader, the Anuians were lost. The Golden People, seeking revenge, hunted down and harvested the Anuians without mercy, wiping them from the face of Kana, leaving only the more easily-controlled Conox.

Today, there is no stable population of Anuians on Kana. Their bloodlines still exist in the Conox genetics, and, on rare occasions, an Anuian will be born amongst the Conox. As the Anuians reqired a six-month gestation persion instead of only three for the Conox, when an Anuian is born, they are severely under-developed. The Anuian Jar is an artificial womb filled with brine, allowing the Anuian to complete their development.

Attempts to cross-breed Anuians generally leads to failure, as they tend to give birth to more Conox. They are also mystically bound to Kana, as they quickly grow sick and die when taken into space. They also are extremely susceptible to cold temperatures and were confined strictly to the south of Kana.


The smaller, more tame, more timid strain of Monamas, the Conox comprise 98% of the current population on Kana. Much smaller than the larger Anuian Monamas, they are slighter in many ways. Their heads are smaller, with, accordingly, smaller facial features. They are not as fast as the Anuians, and not nearly as strong, though they tend to be about four times stronger than the average Elder. They are, on average, only half as heavy as an Anuian.They are more prone to make use of weapons,

Monamas ConoxBut, the Conox are more adaptable than the Anuians. They tolerate cold temperatures much better and they can survive in space much longer. They are incredibly prolific, having ten to twenty young to a litter after only a three month gestation period.

Per Monama writings, the Conox were the original Monamas engineered by the Gods in Jade and Sapphire. The Anuians came later, a second-generation of engineered peoples whom the GJS considered to be superior to the Conox. Concentrating on the Anuians, the Conox were left to fend for themselves, and, accordingly, it was the Conox who had to fend off attacks from the Berserkacides to the south, relying on their weaponry and their sheer reproductive power to thrive and eventually overpower them.


Terrifying monsters once the bane of the Monama peoples of South Kana, Berserkacides are extinct in the modern League, though the Monama believe they will one day return to plague them.
Bersekacides.jpgAncient Monama writing states in the primordial days of Kana, the Berserkacide (the word “Berserkacide” is a modern appellation–they had no particular name) was the apex predator of the south, living in the vast tangle of the forests. They were brutal and savage, hunting and killing anything in their grasp. They rejected civilization, had little language and no written word. They worshipped a terrible Horned God who was delighted by their horrendous bloodlust. Adopting them as his Dark Angels, the Horned God brought them victims to slay so he could watch and revel in the misery.
When the Horned God lured in a weak and sickly race of star-faring alien, he thought they would be easy prey for the Berserkacides. However, the aliens proved to be more resourceful than anticipated, and they made shelter in the cold north of Kana where the Berserkacides could not get to them. Furthermore, the aliens found the Berserkacides to be beautiful and fertile. Hoping to quell their blood-thirsty nature, the aliens, using their superior technology, captured them by the score and took them into their northern cities where they experimented on them. After several generations, they were successful, creating what would become the modern Monamas, much more docile, much more fertile and only having a single pair of arms. The Berserkacides loathed the Mo-Na-Mas and made war on them without end, only to find themselves wiped into extinction, as the Monamas were just as strong as they were and reproduced at a staggering rate. So passed the Berserkacide.

Berserkacide 2

A Killanjo with a leashed Berserkacide (Carol Phillips)

The hated Golden People, coveting the Monamas for their strength, discovered a method to revert them genetically, turning them back into Berserkacides at their whim. Using the strength and fury of the Berserkacide to their own ends, the Golden People enslaved the Monamas until the Horned God’s temple in the ground was destroyed, thus ending their reign on Kana. Lord Lon of Probert, researching the matter discovered a method to remove the genetic trigger, thus ridding the Monamas of the threat of being transformed into a Berserkacide forever.
Berserkacides were fast and savage. Any Monama at any time could be reverted into one, and, once transformed, there was no going back. They were cruel and merciless, taking great pleasure at harming and killing those they formerly loved. Their extra set of arms appeared rather crab-like. They did not appear to suffer from cold temperatures and were thought to be able to breathe under water. They had an odd hole between their eyes that was thought to aid them in locating prey. The hole appeared to be an adaptation coded into them by the Golden People.


copyright 2017: Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips




LOE Characters: Sam

February 17, 2017


The original painting of Sam by Fantasio. This painting became the standard for all future paintings of Sam

Without question, Lady Sammidoran of Monama (later, of Blanchefort) has been one of my favorite characters since she was introduced way back in Book III: The Dead Held Hands. As such, she’s also the most frequently painted character in my stable. I wanted to bust out a post celebrating her visual history as she has been interpreted by various artists over the years.


As in all things, she started out life very different than how she eventually turned out with lots and lots of sub-steps in between.


TOTEH 15.jpg

Sam’s humble original look (Carol Phillips)

Sam started out as a simple servant, a laundry girl toiling away in the bowels of a Calvert Great House. There was nothing extraordinary about her at the time, except that she was rather brawny as a result of her labor-intensive life, and her odd ability to create mental projections known as Killanjo. There was no “Monama” at the time, I hadn’t even thought up the House of Monama yet. That’s how my creative process works, little by little, each thought building on the last. About half way through writing  Book III, I realized the direction I had been heading in wasn’t very interesting. Though I hated to do it, a drastic change was needed, and fast. I had created the House of Monama recently, and at a dinner scene there was a Lady Strella of Monama, a friend of Lady Sarah of Blanchefort. I’d written Strella as a sort of Goth, wearing black clothes and black makeup.



Sam, wearing her steampunk goggles, by Eve Ventrue

On a lark, I suddenly flip-flopped plain, ordinary Sam with the much more exotic, gothic Strella. All of a sudden, Sam was the Monama and Stella was on the outs, though I eventually brought her back as a Fleet ship’s captain from the Remnath area of Kana in Book IV. As I created, Sam and her new Monama heritage got stranger  with each successive draft.


The pale makeup she’d been wearing previously became her actually skin tone. Her fingernails became deadly claws, in fact the entire House of Monama became an alien species native to Kana with a savage history where they were once four-armed beasts slaying everything in their past.

I continued to create. The brand new alien House of Monama blossomed before my very eyes.


Sam, displaying many features of a Monama–claws, huge eyes, pale skin, massive hair, and no belly-button. She’s wearing her Snugs medallion which protects her from the cold. (Fantasio)

I imagined different tribes of Monamas huddled around their fog-bound ancestral home, Lake Monama. I imagined the Astralons, the Nebulons, the Cardinals and Fphenooks. I came up with the idea the Monamas were fast and strong, much more so than the Elders of the north. I also gave them their greatest weakness, a fatal susceptibility to cold, keeping them based in the south, and I made them very unfit for space-travel, slowly got sick and weakened when away from Kana until they perished.


Remembering my grandmother, I added the White Emilia flower that plays a large role in the Monama mating rituals.

And then I created the beast raging within all of them: the Berserkacide and the Killanjo demons from nowhere that tortured them without pause.


Sam and her husband, Lord Kabyl (Carol Phillips)

In dealing with my German friend, Fantasio, I hit upon the idea that the Monamas don’t speak LC, or “League Common” as a first language. I changed them around to speak a family of Monama languages: Anuie, Conox and Systerel. At the same time, since they were speaking different languages amongst themselves, I figured there might be different types of Monamas as well–Big ones and little ones. I came up with the Greater Monamas, or “Anuians” and the smaller, more frequent Lesser Monamas, or “Conox“.  Of course I made my heroine Sam a Greater Monama–having her be little and stringy wouldn’t do.



Sam has always been associated with Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort, whom she would one day be wed to. Monamas have prophetic powers, Sam dreamed of “Kay” years before he was born in the cold north of Kana. She saw him every night in her dreams. Bucking a Monama tradition of abandoning her dreams by planting a White Emilia flower at the Wailing Wall, the remains of an old Anuian Fortress, Sam clung to them, hoping one day to meet in person and win the heart of this Elder boy whom she loved.


Sam Dead (Fantasio)

Sam, though, was an unwitting pawn of a terrible outlawed being known as the Horned God, and was used by him to frame the saintly god Carahil. After a series of horrific events, Sam died as a Berserkacide, shot to death by her love, Kay. Put to rest in her tomb atop Dead Hill, Kay grieved for her for nearly a year.


But, Sam had foreseen her transformation into a Berserkacide and death. She had taken steps to either prevent the change, or to circumvent it.

Using the arcane Machine, Kay was able to Bring Sam back from the veil of death where they were shortly wed at last.

As they began their life together, Sam discovered that, while she was in her tomb out on Dead Hill, Kay had been seeing other people, and was enraged. That fact that she was dead while this was going on didn’t matter to her–she would have rathered he spend the rest of his long life alone and miserable.


Sam waiting for #6 (Sarah Smith)

Displaying a long-lived  jealous streak, Sam grew to hate the woman who dared to conduct a relationship with Kay while she was dead. It was Domeneau of Holly, #6 of the Xandarr 44. As the 44 often came to the Telmus Grove to pray at the statue of Carahil, Sam often found herself out there, waiting for #6 to show.


Hey, nobody’s perfect.

As you can see, Sam has been painted a lot by various artists–this sampling displayed here is hardly all of the materials we’ve collected over the years.


Sam Awakens, by Rebecca Sinz

Sam continues to be one of my personal favorites. I can’t wait to see what further treasures will be created.


Bowl Naked

copyright 2017 Ren Garcia, Fantasio, Carol Phillips, Eve Ventrue, Rebecca Sinz and Sarah Smith

The House of Monama figures prominently in the Temple of the Exploding Head trilogy. Who are the Monamas and what differentiates them from the rest of the League??

“Sam” by Fantasio

This painting of Sam by Fantasio illustrates most of the various physical differences.

HAIR: Monamas have an incredibly thick and fast-growing head of hair that they normally wear down to their ankles. Their hair is invariably coal-black. Aside from their heads, Monamas are quite hairless.

NAILS/CLAWS: Monamas sport a formidable and iron-hard set of fingernails that can hack through a wooden door. Both male and female Monamas wear their nails rather long as they consider their nails a mark of beauty.

EYES: Monamas are well-known for their jet black eyes, including a lack of eye whites.

Note Sam’s black eyes, thick hair and claws hidden under her gloves (Painting by Fantasio)

PALLOR: Monamas are ghastly pale. Living in a perpetual fog by the lake, their skin is often chalk-white in coloration. Those select Monamas that choose to come out of the fog can develop a slight rose tint if they stay in the sun long enough.

BELLYBUTTON: Monamas lack a bellybutton. They find Elder’s belly buttons extremely seductive.

GIFT-LIKE ABILITIES: All Monamas have a number of Gift-like abilities that work when they are touching the ground. When elevated or away from Kana, these abilities vanish. Monamas can “Blink”, or teleport themselves vast distances. They can also transmit their thoughts across the ground and communicate without technology from far away. They also can transform themselves into various humanoid guises–Monama females are much better at it than the males. Monamas also are adept at seeing the future with a high degree of accuracy. Monama males are better at it than the females–female Monamas must partially bury themselves to see the future.

ANUIAN/CONOX: There are two distinct types of Monamas. The most common are the Conox, or “Lesser Monamas” who are rather small and thin of frame, standing on average about 5’2 – 5’5. Much less frequent are the Anuian, or “Greater Monamas” who are significantly bigger, stronger and faster than the Conox, standing about 6 feet tall. Anuians are much more full than the Conox and have markedly different facial features. The Conox, however, appear to be heartier than the Anuians, being a bit less susceptible to cold temperatures and can manage the rigors of space travel much better. The Anuians also require six months in the womb, as opposed to the Conox who require only three.

Anuian Monamas were once very common in the southern lands of Kana, but were said to have been wiped into extinction by a “compelling alien force”. They now only exist in rare birthings amid the Conox, where they must finish their gestation in an “Anuian Jar”, an external womb made of clay and brine.

HEAD SWARM: Monamas tend to fall into a profound, trance-like state when faced with traumatic situations. They call the trance “Head Swarm” and once in it they are difficult if not impossible to revive.

Sam wearing her “Snugs” pendant (Carol Phillips)

SUSCEPTIBILITY TO COLD: Any temperature below 60 degrees F is quickly fatal to a Monama. Even bundled up, the cold will render them sluggish and eventually kill them. Lady Poe of Blanchefort created a Silver tech pendant called Snugs (with the image of a hummingbird on the face) that creates enough warmth for a Monama to survive in the cold without limit. Take away the pendant, however, and the Monama will be dead within minutes.

STRENGTH/SPEED/ENDURANCE: In comparison to Elders, Monamas are incredibly strong. An average Monama is about ten times stronger than an average Elder, though the Elder Gift of Strength can usually match Monama strength. They also have amazing, jaguar-like speed with the endurance to match.

VULNERABILITY TO SPACE TRAVEL: Monamas do not do well when removed from Kana. Extended trips through space can be quickly fatal to them. They can survive on other worlds, however, they lose most of their gift-like abilities until they are returned to Kana.

LANGUAGES: Monamas speak a group of regional languages spoken nowhere else in the League. The Sisters at one time considered making the speaking of their native Anuie, Conox and Systrel languages illegal due to the fact that the Sisters cannot read the Monamas minds via the Stare, however, more reasonable heads prevailed. The people of Hoban find Monama accents very soothing. Monama bards and storytellers are popular on Hoban.

A Berserkacide (Carol Phillips)

EVIL NATURE: Although Monamas generally have very kind and modest personalities, they are convinced that they all carry within them a dark spirit of evil that is just waiting to come out. In their ancient writings they speak of the days when they were four-armed and evil and that the Gods in Jade and Sapphire freed them. The prospect of turning into a raging Berserkacide haunts them.

GODS IN JADE AND SAPPHIRE: The Monamas believe the benevolent Gods in Jade and Sapphire removed their ancient evil nature from them, along with their second pair of arms. They also believe they once bore the gods’ children.

SEX DRIVE/FECUNDITY: Monamas are well-known for their libidos and for their fecundity. They can have up to twelve children at a time in only three months. It is said Monamas can become carried away to the point of being dangerous when having sex.

copyright, 2011 Ren Garcia