Finally, LOE Book VII: Against the Druries is out!!

This book is the triumphant conclusion to the “Belmont Saga” and all of the concepts and plot threads introduced in “Sands” are dealt with and answered in detail.

An author naturally puts a great deal of themself into any particular work–with this book it’s even more so. I normally try to keep myself out of the proceedings, but this book encompasses many of my hopes and my dreams, my fears and my wants. There is a great deal of friendship and discovered love in this book, and there is vile cruelty too. This book is me with the curtain pulled aside, and it’s my favorite so far of the series.

LoE Book VII: Against the Druries , from Loconeal Publishing, is available on

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia

Lady Alesta of Dare is a girl of Barrow stock hailing from the western city of the same name. The Dares are the largest extended family on Kana with over sixty percent of people of Barrow stock being Dares.

“Lady Alesta of Dare” by Kayla Woodside

From a young age, Alesta was a mature, thoughtful girl. She loved to play and jump, but was nevertheless more reserved and bit more introspective than her brothers and sisters. She often saw a strange star hanging in the western sky. It was a large yellow star that was bright enough to be clearly seen at mid-day, yet dim enough that she could look right at it without hurting her eyes. She thought she could even see some sort of surface detail on it–a red, twisting cloud. She marveled at it and even thought it might be a moon of Kana, though she couldn’t find mention of it in any of her astronomy books. She asked her mother about it once, and she didn’t know what she was talking about, so Alesta didn’t mention it again.

When visiting the marketplace with her mother, she often saw a group of apparently impoverished beggars being harassed in the town square by gawkers. She asked her mother who the beggars were and her mother told her: “Pilgrims of Merian,” and she said nothing more, hurrying on.

“Alesta” by Eve Ventrue

Alesta often saw these Pilgrims of Merian coming and going in Dare. They appeared to be priests of some sort preaching a bizarre alternative version of the History of the Elders, one not sanctioned by the Sisterhood of Light. Most of the people listening to the Pilgrims appeared to be mocking their beliefs.

One day, she stopped to listen to what the Merians were saying. They said, amid the jeers, that the Elders were not gone, and to see them one need only open one’s eyes. The Merians mentioned their Star–a yellow star to the west. The people listening to them laughed. What star, they asked. There is nothing there.

“I see it!” Alesta cried. The Merians turned to her and she pointed right toward it.

Though her family protested, Alesta had found her calling. She left her family in Dare and set out, traveling in the meager wagons of the Pilgrims of Merian. She quickly discovered that there was much more to the Merians than they let on to the public. They took her to a sacred mountain to pray and discover her path. She knelt in the snow at the summit for hours waiting to hear the yellow star speak.

At last, she heard a kind voice whisper in her ear: Save all those who fall astray.”

Alesta on the Merian Ship (From LoE Book VII cover, by Carol Phillips)

For Alesta, she would walk the most dangerous road. She was taken with her Merian brothers and sisters to places of evil where unsuspecting souls often fell into peril and needed help, and her task was to rescue them. She visited many planets without ever having stepped onto a starship, she walked the mysterious Merian’s Road. She and her order saved many people in need, and those they saved were rarely grateful.

Though threadbare and impoverished, her star protected her. She wore a belt that allowed her to walk invisibly if she so wished and had beads that shielded her mind from attack.

She eventually ended up on a small outpost overlooking a watery world of evil unknown to the Sisters or the Fleet, hiding right under their noses where the unwary were lured in and killed. It was very dangerous, and should she and her Merian order be discovered by the caretakers of this world, there would be no mercy and no help for them. As always Alesta and the Merians were on their own in a dangerous world.

One day, she saw a star fall, and that was beginning of the end …

copyright 2012, Ren Garcia, Eve Ventrue, Carol Phillips and Kayla Woodside

TOTSE: The Pilgrims of Merian

September 2, 2012

Sketch of the cover to LoE Book VII “Against the Druries” featuring a Merian ship attempting to rescue the wreck of the Demophalon John (Carol Phillips)

The Pilgrims of Merian are a group of wanderers roaming the countryside of Kana, Hoban, Onaris and various Xaphan worlds as well. They travel from city to city preaching an alternative history of the Elders, often in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Sisterhood of Light. The Sisters, normally swift to stamp out alternative histories of the Elders, found the Merians to be benign and harmless and so bizarre in their views, that nobody could ever possibly take them seriously. They allowed them to continue provided they pay their taxes and cause no strife or duress.

The chief tenet of their teachings is that the Elders of Old are not gone, only relocated. They believe in the Star of Merian, the astral presence of the Elder Merian thought to be long dead. They say those with clear sight can see the Star of Merian as a great yellow star, easily visible in broad daylight, and that it is wreathed in a twisting red cloud. A prerequisite to joining the order is to be able to see the star.

The Merians travel the countryside by way of floatwagons covered with tarpaulins. They have no known permanent headquarters and make a meager living selling hand-made trinkets and cloth and performing calligraphy (see below). When asked where they come from, the Merians always say “Westwood“, though such a place has never been located. Occasionally, the Merians will stop and settle in one place for a year or two. They often ask the local Lord or Lady permission to settle, and, when granted, build a temporary village called a Hermitage. The estate of Belmont-South Tyrol resides on the grounds of an old Merian Heritage. Though they are impoverished in the extreme, those who enter a Merian Hermitage are welcome to share in anything they have.

“Lady Alesta of Dare and Pilgrim of Merian” by Eve Ventrue

Their dress consists of a homespun white smock that extends down to their knees. They wear a belt of red and green shells and a number of small necklaces of red and green wooden beads. Merians never cut their hair for they believe their ability to see their Star comes from their hair. They hold back their masses of hair with pins and combs. They rarely wear shoes. On top of everything, they wear a green brocade cloak lined with gold cloth. They write in a secret language known only to them. In some parts of Esther and Barrow, Merian writing is thought to bring good luck, and they are sometimes paid to decorate various vessels and buildings.

Though threadbare and impoverished, it is said in some quarters that the Merians are much more capable and advanced than they let on. Some say that their belts allow them to pass unseen if they wish, and their beaded necklaces shield the wearer’s mind from attacks and illusion. There is also the various tales that the Merians may travel virtually anywhere they wish at the blink on an eye via an arcane bridge called The Merian’s Road. Xaphan Traders often tell tales of selfless, green-robed people who walk into peril to rescue those in need and that they travel by way of a “Road” wreathed in fog.

Such tales have never been verified and the Merians themselves never speak of such things.

copyright 2012, Ren Garcia, Eve Ventrue and Carol Phillips.