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Fantasy

Author News

Deltan Skies has been out….

Deltan Skies has actually been out for two weeks, I just forgot to update the front page to make note of it. Good news is, in the time it’s been out, it’s sold more copies that Ethereal Girls did in for its first 4 months of release. See why it has today!

v1b_EBOOK

A  young elven mage named Quintanelle Fillion flees from her totalitarian homeland to New Delta, a dense metropolis made up of hundreds of mile-high towers. She finds employment working for New Delta’s top private detective, a human named Alfonso Deegan, and his red dragon associate Mordridakon. Quintanelle’s first case thrusts her in the middle of New Delta’s own problems.

After millennia of oppression, members of the disenfranchised avian race have taken complete control of the criminal underworld, but what they want is the one thing they can’t steal. To achieve their goals, the avians’ charismatic leader enlists the help of a goblin shaman cast out from her own suffering people. Together they create a risky and daring plan that involves everyone from the city’s inept mayor and a corrupt city senator, to Quintanelle’s new boss and even her own family.

As their plan unfolds, a dark reality emerges. New Delta stands on the brink of total annihilation, and Quintanelle may be the only one who can stop it. 

Read the first three chapters

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Author News

Ethereal Girls is Coming!

Finally, I’ve gotten around to introducing something I’ve talked about everywhere but here:

 

 In Medieval Europe, four mystical weapons were forged in order to combat malevolent spirits – vile entities seeking nothing more than to spread misery and chaos across the universe. Centuries later, only one weapon remains to protect Earth. That weapon, the Axe of Boren, falls into the hands of teenage Liza while she is driving home from cheerleading practice, transforming her into a hulking warrior of immense strength and endurance. At the same time, her best friend Macie is twisted into a psychopathic murderer by one of the Axe’s counterparts, the corrupted Sword of Boren, and goes on a gruesome killing spree.
   
    But just as Liza and Macie are headed for battle, the most powerful evil spirit in generations appears, unleashing an army of monstrous cannibals on Washington, D.C. In order to defeat the spirit, Liza must ally with three odd girls: a sickly waif with macabre teleportation abilities; a member of a snake-like race called the Lamia who wants nothing more than to be a human teenager; and the 107th reincarnation of an ancient goddess who may know far more about the mystical weapons than she lets on. But even with her new friends, Liza faces a near impossible task. Macie is obsessed with destroying her regardless of the devastation unfolding around them…

There will more released soon, including the first two chapters and the rest of the five “book posters.”  Sign up for the Ethereal Girls Mailing List to stay up to date!

K23 Side Story

K23 Side Story: Thrown To Glory

In about a minute, Sabarwen was going to be thrown hundreds of feet, and she had to calm her mind despite being extremely uncomfortable. The Deltan elf stood at the start of a 90′ long runway beyond which lay an expansive pool of red goo that would break her fall. Behind her, an ogre named Gorog the Mighty was talking to his troll trainer as he wiped powder onto his massive paws.

The glaring overhead lights of the gargantuan Cloudplex burned into Sabarwen’s purple skin, causing her white leotard to become drenched in sweat. Her silver hair, tied in a bun, was itching. The roar of the 300,000-spectator crowd deafened her. Camera pods buzzed around her, sending her image to the large view screens set up in the arena as well as to millions of home viewers around the world. A small army of officials milled around the track ready to make sure everything was within the rules.

She ignored it all. She needed to center herself. She had reached the highest point an implement could achieve in elf throwing, Terrall’s most popular sport. Sabarwen was about to be thrown by the gold medal favorite in the Ogre Male’s Deltan Elf Female Throwing Finals at the 10017 Hominia Athletics Large Hominid Games, beating out dozens of others via random selection.

Elf throwing’s origins were controversial. Elves, particularly light skinned Teolian elves from the totalitarian city-state of Teolos, claimed the sports originated in ancient times when ogres killed virgins by flinging them off cliffs. The official history maintained by the Elf Throwing League, the sport’s main governing body, and Hominia Athletics, the megacorp that owned and ran the New Delta Athletics Complex where the Cloudplex was located, was much more benign.

According to them, the sport originated around 9975, when a Deltan elf and her ogre lover were frolicking on a beach next to the Uthiric Ocean not far from New Delta. The ogre playfully threw his lover into the ocean. She enjoyed it and asked to go again. Other ogres, trolls and elves watching wanted to join in the fun. Soon the fun turned into serious competition, with male ogres and their boxy green-skinned counterparts seeing how far they could launch elves of both genders and variety.

The Elf Throwing League was established in 9980 with the first official event held in the Cloudplex the following year. The sport quickly became the city’s most popular athletic pastime. Watching elves, especially Teolian elves, being launched never got old. This version was supported by the fact that the original Deltan elf in the story was alive and president of the Elf Throwing League.

The Hominia Athletics Games were the largest sport event in the world, the only sport event Hominia Athletics ran themselves. There were four specific competitions which rotated annually on a four-year cycle: Small Hominid, where gnomes, dwarves and goblins competed; Medium Hominid, where elves, humans and orcs competed; Large Hominid, where ogres and trolls competed; and Non-Hominid, where Uthirans, avians, komodo, brac’tai and others competed.

While the Non-Hominid Games were the largest because of the sheer number of events, the Large Hominid Games were the most popular because ogres and trolls were simply the most fun to watch. The Large Hominid Games always had the largest viewership and the most sponsorship money. In addition to elf throwing, the Games also featured other popular sports such as cage brawling, goblin catching, gnome punting and the always hilarious large hominid gymnastics.

Sabarwen wasn’t concerned with that. All she was thinking about was that if she messed up here, she’d be reduced to a training implement. She would spend the rest of her career being thrown by amateurs who could injure or kill her.

A human official on the side blew his whistle, signaling the throw to commence. The roaring of the crowd grew even louder.

Sabarwen relaxed her limbs as Gorog thumped over, the floor shaking with every step. He towered over her 5’5″ petite frame.

“Ya ready?” He asked.

Sabarwen nodded. “Yes.”

Saberwen didn’t know Gorog. Implements were barred for mingling to prevent cheating. She knew he threw extremely stiff, making landings painful, but that was why he was one of the best.

Another whistle was blown, and the crowd quieted.

Sabarwen turned around. Gorog wrapped his hands completely around her mid-section. Gorog lifted her up and placed her waist on her his shoulders. Sabarwen went rigid, body in a straight line at a 45-degree angle. Her head was parallel to the tips of his long pitted tusks, eight feet off the floor.

Gorog stared down the runway and Sabarwen’s mind went blank as time slowed. Each step shook her, but she stayed perfectly still. Halfway down, Gorog was now in a full sprint, his hot breath shooting past her ears.

The throw happened in a snap, Gorog’s arm shooting forward like a piston and releasing her at the end of the runway.

The world was silent except for her heart beat. The cavernous Cloudplex was a blur.

Then she hit the goo, pain shooting from her fingertips to her toes as the goo repelled her into the air. The world and the crowd rushed back as she went limp and fell into the red. The goo cradled her aching body. A light on the side of pool adjacent to the point her finger tips first hit lit up.

The crowd went wild, rattling the entire stadium. She looked up at the scoreboard. Gorog had thrown her five hundred ninety-two feet and seven inches, a new world record by six inches!

Sabarwen sobbed as she looked back at Gorog, now a tiny figure, embracing his trainer in celebration. While Sabarwen couldn’t attend the medal ceremony and would probably never see Gorog again, her name would still go into the record texts next to his for all time.

It was a common refrain among elf throwing critics that the sport was degrading and insulting to elves. But what they never understood was that the elves’ performance was as critical as the ogres and trolls that threw them. If Sabarwen’s posture wasn’t completely straight and rigid, if she had choked and went limp too soon, Gorog wouldn’t be receiving the gold medal.

For one brief moment, two complete strangers became one to produce something legendary. He had thrown her into glory.

Essays Opinions

Fifty Shades of Tomb Raider

Back in May, there was a huge feminist outcry over an interview with a producer of the  Tomb Raider reboot by Square Enix:

“When people play Lara, they don’t really project themselves into the character…. They’re more like ‘I want to protect her.’ There’s this sort of dynamic of ‘I’m going to this adventure with her and trying to protect her… She’s definitely the hero but— you’re kind of like her helper,” he said. “When you see her have to face these challenges, you start to root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character.”

The outrage over this was swift and severe and I agree with this. The producer was espousing a classic sexist stereotype that is insulting to men and women: that men only want submissive, non-threatening women that they can protect and heal (even at times by fucking, such as in the case of Jack from Mass Effect 2). This sexist view is literally everywhere and manifests itself in a variety of ways.

This brings me to Fifty Shades of Grey, the enormously popular erotic romance series which features a submissive female heroine who gives herself over to a heroic dominator. I don’t think I could ever bring myself to read it because I read Fifty Shades of God, an editorial in the Washington Post about how women are attracted to the trilogy because it’s really about religion:

Grey starts out in the books intending to dominate (beat and cause pain to) Anastasia in his famous playroom dubbed “The Red Room of Pain,” and ends up loving and not wanting (or rather willing) to hurt her. One could compare him to the God of some peoples’ imagination.

Christian is at times punishing, sadistic, angry, demanding, intolerant, fickle, bewildering, withholding, omnipotent, omniscient, awesome, abusive, kind, generous, wise and — above all — loving and cherishing.

Just when Anastasia has had it and is about to give up on Christian for doing something absolutely appalling, just when she no longer believes in him, he redeems himself by doing something so outrageously wonderful that she cannot abandon him and is pulled back into the fold. Just when he is withholding his love from her and she is weeping and can no longer bear it, he embraces her with an overwhelming totality. Just when she is doubting herself for her submission, he turns the tables and offers himself to her.

And here we see the delusional fantasy women have about men: that the dominating, asshole guy secretly has a heart of gold that only she can bring out. This, too is everywhere, for trashy Harelquin Presents novels to Twilight.

I noticed something: these delusional male and female fantasies match up.  Men want to dominate and ultimately heal the woman (usually by fucking) and women want to be submissive and ultimately heal the man (usually by making love). First off, sex and love, while often powerful motivators, don’t heal deep-seated mental wounds. This is just common sense.

Now, I’m of the opinion that in general, women subconsciously hand power to men. Why else would they be reading fantasies where they are literally bought and sold (again, Harlequin presents)? I know some women are going to  call me sexist and chauvinist, and I can see how they’d think that. However, I also believe it takes two to tango. Patriarchy wouldn’t exist if women weren’t willing to be submissive to male will.   Men might have imposed patriarchy long ago, but women’s beliefs and actions keep it alive and well.

Crap like 50 Shades of Grey only reinforces gender inequality by saying bliss is found in submission. Additionally, men also need to stop seeing women as lesser beings that they can dominate protect, which the new Tomb Raider does nothing to correct. Ultimately, both genders should be equals in life. Women shouldn’t hand the reins of power over to men completely and men shouldn’t be intimidated by not being totally in control. Unfortunately, while both genders might reach total equality one day, we still have a long way to go if men and women’s fantasies are anything to go by.

Terrall in Depth

Terrall In Depth: The Brac’tai

If you haven’t yet seen the Sandworm Rodeo cover, here you go. While there is a giant sandworm, the focus of the art is, of course, the cute tentacle things on its back. Meet the brac’tai,(pronounced Brack-Thai) the “cute furry mascots” of the K23 Universe. These creatures are not exactly easy to miss, as Dave 237, the main brac’tai character, is introduced third in A Clear and Feathered Danger, after Eluna and Quintanelle.

Bodies:

Brac’tai are round balls covered in a dozen tentacles, six arms, four feet and two eye tentacles. In the center of their body is a large gaping mouth. Brac’tai are sponges, soaking up water through their mouths and permeable skin. They suck out the nutrients and then expel the water in the form of slime, which keeps them from drying out and move on land. They breath air which can also be absorbed through their skin. A brac’tai has very special eyes which allow them to see normal light, UV and Infrared spectrums at the same time. This helps them spot predators in all conditions.

It’s worth noting that brac’tai do not grow old. Still, all brac’tai will eventually die due to predators, disease or injury.

Natural Behavior: 

Brac’tai are highly intelligent and curious creatures who love to explore.  They cannot speak naturally, though they can be highly expressive.  As long as they have nutrient rich water, they got up to twenty hours before needing to rest, which is just quietly floating and relaxing. They don’t sleep like others do since they have to be on alert at all times, especially when out on the open ocean. There theyare  quite vulnerable, especially to Mer and giant sharks.  To non-predators, however, brac’tai are kind and friendly to them.

Reproduction:

Brac’tai reproduction is odd is certain respects. They reproduce sexually, but nothing gets inserted into anything. Male and female Brac’tai are identical and nearly impossible to tell apart except when mating. A pair will float a few feet apart. A male will spit white goop, a female will spit grey goop. The goop will merge and congeal into a tiny brac’tai in five minutes. On that’s done, everyone floats off, the tiny brac’tai is completely self-sufficient. While the brac’tai mate endless in the waterways of their native Elemchi, the numbers of kept in check by a myriad of aquatic predators, some of whom have evolved specifically to eat little brac’tai.

As far as tentacle sex goes, I deal with it through an organization I introduce in Sandworm Rodeo called the Deltan Adult Female Brac’tai Love Association, or DAFBLA for short. They believe that love between an adult hominid female and a brac’tai is natural and should be explored. Parallels to a certain sick and twisted organization in our world are  intentional….

Brac’tai and Ashram-Uriah 

All brac’tai in New Delta are handled by Ashram-Uriah, who employs them in large numbers for data entry positions. The megacorps assigns all brac’tai in New Delta  designations, which are generic American names followed by a number: Dave 237,  Jill 485, Bill 299 ect. If a brac’tai signs an employment  contract – and the vast majority do – they become property of Ashram-Uriah, who reserves the right to dispose of them if they become sick or injured in any way. Still, being an employee of Ashram-Uriah is something brac’tai flock too  as they are otherwise taken care of very well, with a resting tank to use, unlimited nutritional fluid, a monthly stipend and even a moist work environment.

Brac’tai can only leave Ashram-Uriah employment only if they have another job to go to. The reason for this is Ashram can make money by selling the employment contracts to the second party. What the new employers does with brac’tai after that is left to their discretion.

Want to meet Dave 237? Pick up the books.

K23 Side Story

K23 Side Story: 36 Hours in Gruck

36 Hours in Gruck

 

The following is the journal written on a screen found next to the half-eaten corpse of Teolian diplomatic aide Reitherl Durndavel.

 

5/22 17:22

 

Arrived in Gruck on the once-a-day shuttle from New Delta. High Mage Fillion wants me to report on the current state of Gruck for possible reopening of diplomatic channels, a routine affair that happens every few years. Kurwin is an idiot for even sending me. I don’t have to go to Gruck to know that the answer is still no. But I have a job to do and I’ll do it. So I’ll spend the next day and a half in Gruck and take the 5/24 morning shuttle back to New Delta…if I live that long.

I’d love to stay in the shuttleport, but it offers no amenities of any kind and the guards clear it and lock it down at 18:00.

 

5/22 19:30

 

Quickly found my guide waiting by the exit. He’s a goblin shaman named Nugri. Nice fellow, very smart, not your usual goblin. Told me to summon on rags instead of my robes, makes me less of a target. He led me into Gruck proper.

Gruck is a disgusting, filth ridden sewer, as usual. The swamps of the Ogunlands don’t stop at the Gruck city limits, they flow right through. Everything and everyone is covered in mud. Most dwellings are animal skin tents or crude stick huts. I even saw some ogres not bothering with dwellings at all and just living out in the open air.

I saw one ogre beat another ogre unconscious for a piece of meat. I asked Nugri if the perpetrator will be brought to justice. He said no. The ogres didn’t have a justice system. The goblins used shamanism as a means of distributing justice, but they weren’t about to impose order on beasts twice their size.

I also saw my first ogre female. One really doesn’t get a sense of how hideous they are until you see one fornicating with a male in full view. She was on top, her mud-adorned rolls of flab jiggling as she ground against her mate, her sharpened tusks glistening with sweat and drool.  Nugri said that despite being “cauldrons of blubber,” females could still rip me apart.  He added that when a male rips your head off, it’s one quick clean jerk…but when a female rips your head off, it takes a few tugs, making your death all the more agonizing.

He led me into a goblin section, which was surprisingly less disgusting, if only because the goblins go to the bathroom in designated channels where the water moves the sewage away from the area. Disease is still rampant, however.

Saw a goblin with cholera. There hasn’t been a case of that in Teolos in a few millennia. Poor fellow, nothing I could do.

Nugri lives in a one room stick hut with his mate and four kids. It’s cramped, it’s dirty, but with no economy to speak of here, there’s no way to get the materials to make a better dwelling.

I’m currently waiting for dinner of smelly bread and ham to be prepared by Nugri’s mate. Everyone lives with their dinner, hogs and chickens run free, crops growing right outside. Predators run free too. I saw an alligator lounging around not far from here. Hopefully it won’t come after me.

 

5/22 21:00

 

Dinner was pretty bad but it was food. Hopefully the inn I’m staying at nearby with have some tastier treats. Somehow I doubt it.

I asked Nugri why everyone didn’t seem to be starving to death. He replied that there were goblins starving to death, they didn’t just live in this section of Gruck. He could take to me see them if I wanted to. I declined.

I followed up with questions about the predators. He and his mate looked sad. That particular alligator I had seen nearby had been there for years and had ate one of his children the previous year. He didn’t try to kill it because another one would take its place. No real point to it.

Have to stop writing now. Nugri is going to take me to the inn.

 

5/23 02:04

 

I can’t sleep. This isn’t a real inn, it’s a bunch of crappy tents with a crude fence around it and a fire pit in the middle. There’s no mattress, no pillows, only a ratty blanket and no floor. It’s hot, I’m covered in mud, flies are buzzing me and there’s no shower in sight. I was told to just shit where I stood; at least I had the decency to go behind a tree.  I could magically wash myself and summon an outhouse, but I’d just get caked up again in ten minutes and chances are some constipated ogre would make the outhouse usable only once.

Outside the tent right now, I can hear faraway screams as a goblin gets devoured by something. Much closer I can hear the groans and moans of yet another pair of ogres fornicating in public. That term is relative, naturally, because there doesn’t seem to be much privacy in Gruck.

At least they had roasted pig, which tasted better than the slop served at Nugri’s hovel. They also had beer, which tasted like riding dragon piss, but it wasn’t potentially toxic like the water.

I ate my food with the only other guest staying there, a Cybrix salesman from New Delta named Alberto. Like my superiors, every couple of years Cybrix Techonologies sends people to Gruck to see if they’re in a state worth dealing with, such as selling much-needed technology like water filtration systems.

Alberto had been there for two days already and looked like one of the natives with the mud caked to every part of his body. He told me nobody here had any money, everyone either bartered or just took what they needed. He was headed back to New Delta in the morning to tell his superiors a firm “not now, not ever!” He was so relieved to leave he was almost giddy.

I wish I was heading back, but I still have so many hours to go.

 

5/23 08:30

 

Slept terribly. Breakfast of more roast pig. An ogre is coming to show me around the ogre parts, this should be interesting…

 

5/23 10:00

 

My ogre guide is Grogg the Bright, the younger brother of the late Trogg the Genius, famous for being the world’s smartest ogre. Grogg seemed as intelligent as his brother, though this was never proven since Grogg never saw much point in moving out of Gruck. Grogg said that he was entertaining an offer from Academics Incorporated to become a professor at New Delta University. Apparently, Trogg’s departure and subsequent death helped the department because it meant New Delta University had to go looking for professors, which they didn’t really do under Trogg’s tenure. They had already one professor, Trogg’s troll female replacement, and were courting at least two others besides Grogg. Grogg’s niece, Gamie the Wave, had already decided she wanted to be an Ogre Studies major and would probably become a professor herself in a few years.

I then changed the subject to Grogg’s relationship with Trogg. Grogg said that while Trogg was in Gruck quite frequently they weren’t close. The reason was that Trogg believed his less intelligent peers survived out of sheer brute force. Take that out and they were not fit to survive. Trogg had created Ogre Studies in order to create an ogre culture where none had existed.

Grogg saw things differently. While their family was rare among ogres because of their intelligence that didn’t mean they were superior, just different.  After all, if they were superior, then evolution would’ve selected their intelligence to be common among ogres. Obviously, it had not.

5/23 14:00

 

Saw my first ogre children. They were… monstrous. Ogre newborns weighed thirty pounds, male or female. Seven years old girls were five-foot-five, as tall as I am; boys were six feet tall. Ogre play consists running around and hitting thing with sticks, which was what the adults did as well.

Saw the ogres’ food source: log pens filled with pigs, chickens and giant toads. They were communal property as ogres just took for themselves and kept predators and goblins away. The goblins who attempted to take from the pens were starving. They had been shunned – mostly those who disobeyed the shamans or harmed others.

This was not what I expected and will bring it up when I meet with Nurgi later.

After that, we went to the closest thing Gruck has to a government, an ogre warlord named Bor the King. Bor lived in a large circular hut made of mud, and animal skin and bone. He sat on a throne of bone with a crown of bone, wielding a bone scepter.

Bor didn’t do anything at all. He wasn’t even a figurehead in almost all respects. He and the previous warlords were simply there so Gruck could be considered a city-state, since they had to have a government.

When I showed up, we quickly left because Bor was drunk and babbled incoherently on the throne. Grogg assured me that he wasn’t always like that. I wasn’t entirely convinced.

We just finished a lunch of grilled giant toad. Not bad….

 

5/23 17:40

 

After I finished writing the last journal entry Grogg took me to the Temple of Thagnar. Grogg took his leave there as he had to dig up his screen out of the mud underneath his tent and contact NDU for more contract negotiations.

The temple was maintained by a group of mixed-gender troll priests. It was the most ornate structure in Gruck. It was made of imported stone and had electricity and water filtration. They made you take a shower and wash off the mud before you entered. I was shocked.

Unfortunately, despite how nice the temple was, the ogres needed to be reminded to use it, otherwise they wouldn’t. Grogg said before he left that ogres didn’t see the point. Doing so didn’t give them food, drink or sex. Why Thagnar would choose to patronize a race that didn’t care to engage him is beyond anyone…but deities are mysterious entities.

The main patrons of the temple were goblins since shamen regularly studied and practiced there. The trolls even let them keep their parchment scrolls in the temple library for safekeeping.

It was there that I found Nurgi again. He was training a group of girls, one of them being a daughter of his I had met the previous evening. The rest were other girls that had come to Nurgi after a dream told them to.

They were all sitting perfectly still, attuning their bodies to transmit and receive messages from Ulax, the All-Seeing, the foundation of shamanism. Nurgi said they would be like that for a while, so we had some time to talk.

The training of girls was a brand new phenomenon, thanks to Eluna, the only full-fledged female shaman alive and the last of the Te line.  Eluna was well known in Gruck, primarily because it was the current shamen who ran her out of town on a shuttle after her father died.  Nurgi expressed regret, stating that at the time shamen would rather let an entire shamanistic line go extinct than let a female practice. After another shaman shared what Eluna’s experiences were like, everyone quickly changed their minds and now shamanism has a real chance of reviving.

I asked if he thought Eluna would train more to carry on her line. Nurgi assumed so, but since he didn’t know her personally he couldn’t say for sure.

I then asked about the starving goblins and why he didn’t mention they were criminals. He said it was because I never asked why they were starving.

The girls came out of trances and Nurgi asked what they saw. The each said that Ulax showed them random vision of people and places. They described these scenes in extreme detail, including my apartment, right down to the blue and red sofa with flower patterns sitting in front of a tapestry showing a unicorn. These girls really were future shamen.

Nurgi praised them and they went back into another trance.

 

5/23 22:00

 

Nurgi and the girls left about 18:00. Spent the rest of the evening guests of the trolls at the temple learning about Thagnar worship. Contrary to what I thought, Thagnar worship is surprisingly bright, putting a focus on this world and the pleasures in it because they’re gone once we die. There was a joke among the priests that orgies were a religious ritual. I didn’t ask if they engaged in orgies and I honestly did not want to know.

I now, however, think that while ogres don’t actively worship Thagnar, the constant drinking and fornicating I saw was the Ogres honoring Thagnar even if it wasn’t official.

A troll priest brought me back to the inn. I would’ve loved to stay at the temple but the priests allowed no overnight guests in order to avoid setting a bad precedent.

Grogg messaged me an hour ago and said he’ll take me to the shuttle in the morning instead of Nurgi as he’s going to New Delta himself, having reached a deal this afternoon.

I’ll finish up and give my recommendation then.

 

That was the end of the journal entries. Around 04:30 on the morning of 5/24, an alligator snuck into Reitherl’s tent while he was sleeping and ate everything but his legs. Grogg the Bright took the screen to New Delta, where he gave it the Teolian Embassy. Upon receiving it, Teolos once again decided to ignore Gruck for the time being.

Hominia Map

Check out the rest of the K23 Side Stories and K23 novellas

K23 Side Story

K23 Side Story: Being Mudrax the Hung

“So Mudrax, why are you so excited for Big Trolls Small Elves 32?” Rai Cutter, a young reporter, asked as his camera pod rolled.

Mudrax the Hung was a male troll, seven feet tall and pushing three hundred pounds.  He was green and boxy yet muscular. His shaved and rippling chest was on display as he was shirtless and oiled up. The tight leather pants he did wear didn’t leave much to the imagination, but neither did the huge cardboard cutout of him flexing nude, with the troll blocking out the genitals.

“We’re going back to a story based series,” he said. “It’s a touching love story between a lovesick troll played by me and a Teolian elf played by Alexia Buxon.”

“I’m assuming there will be lots of sex in it.” Rai loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top button on his white shirt due to the heat from the bright studio lights.

Mudrax smiled and laughed. “On there’ll be sex all right, fucking from start to finish. It’s got blow jobs, hand jobs, three-ways, gangbangs, reverse gangbangs…“ Mudrax proceeded to list every standard heterosexual porn convention short of BSDM.

Nevermind – it was in there too. Rai felt like he was going to vomit.

There were two types of reporters in New Delta. There were the big reporters like Leyla Linour, the Terrall News Network star reporter. She had access to all the big stories, thanks in part to her husband. She didn’t have to go far looking for scoops. They generally came to her. She made seven figures at least a year and had an office full of awards.

Then there were reporters like Rai, who reported on fluff pieces about celebrities, produced inside stories that didn’t expose anything new, or simply became a cog in the corporate PR machine. He worked for Adult Media News, which reported the latest goings on in the adult entertainment business: strip clubs, brothels and pornography.

So instead of doing meaningful work, the dream of every journalist, he sat in an Intimate Productions PR studio interviewing a porn star about a meaningless porn movie.

Mudrax finished his list of fetishes and waited for Rai to ask the next question.

He shut off the pod via the remote control he had in his hand. Rai uncrossed his legs and sat forward. “Let’s not waste time with this fluff bullshit. Nobody’s going to watch it anyway. I want to know the real you.”

“You know I’m not gay, right?” Mudrax asked calmly, not a stranger to being propositioned by men as well as women. “Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against homosexuals, In fact I’m friends with a few gay porn stars. I just don’t swing that way.”

Rai tossed the remote to the ground. “I want to know the everyday Mudrax. What are you like off the set? Why do you do this? Who do you go home to?”

Mudrax yawned. “You’re not the first AMN reporter to flip out and want to do real journalism. “ He stood up, towering over the still sitting human. ”You think you’re above us porn stars, prostitutes and strippers, as if what we do demeans us. You aren’t. This is a job to me, a fun job, but still a job.” He pointed to the cutout, “I may fuck every hominid race on screen in every position known to hominids, but off screen—“

“Most female trolls won’t even talk to you.” Mudrax stumbled back and fell his into his chair. Rai had him. Female trolls ignoring male troll porn stars was common knowledge but it was rare to hear this from the mouth of a male troll. He picked up his remote and started rolling. “Mudrax, why won’t female trolls mate with you?”

Mudrax sighed and looked sad, as if he was going to cry. “Female trolls are beautiful creatures, toned yet curvy, with long silky black hair and emerald eyes that can melt any man’s heart. We males are ugly by comparison.” He slapped his chest. “I look like a deformed ogre! So the only thing we have to attract them,” he pointed behind him, “is our foot long naturally ribbed cocks that can safely remain hard for hours, then cum on command shooting giant loads. We can have up to three or four consecutive orgasms before we have to stop.”

The studio was really getting stuffy and uncomfortable, but Rai pressed on. “There has to be more than that, otherwise trolls would’ve died out eons ago.”

“There is,” Mudrax said. “Trolls are taught to support their spouses emotionally, to be there for each other, to listen to each other.”

“Strange coming from the deity of death.”

Mudrax closed his eyes, and then sprung them open, “Death without life is life without death: meaningless. To prepare for death without living life is to miss the point entirely.”

“What does any of this have to do with porn?” Rai asked.

“Everything! Unlike every other hominid race, trolls are the only matriarchy. Men spreading their seed around is viewed as a sin by many troll women. I once heard a human porn actress complain that girls are expected to be chaste while boys can sleep around. I replied that she should’ve been born a troll, because the double standard is reversed. She married a friend of mine a few months later.”

“But you’re stronger than they are. Fight back if you feel subjected.”

“Spoken like a human. Who said male trolls are subjugated? Most troll men are too busy getting banged by their hot spouses to care. It’s another thing about trolls: sex after marriage doesn’t decrease, it increases.”

Rai blushed. “Maybe I should marry a troll.”

“Get in line. I’ve seen other hominids literally try to kill each other over the love of a troll woman.”

“Let me guess: troll women can sleep outside the race, but troll men cannot.”

“Nope, plenty of troll men have happily fathered with other kinds of women, though it’s almost always those who can’t find themselves a troll wife.”

“So, do female trolls ignore you?”

“I’m not marr—“

There was a knock on the door. Rai stopped the feed. “Come on in.”

A buxom female troll wearing a slinky black dress and black makeup walked in and across the room. She lay back in Mudrax’s lap, and kissed him passionately. Mudrax grinned. “Meet my wife, Yula the Bountiful.” He groped her. They playfully growled at each other.

Rai dropped his remote, speechless.

“I was watching from the two way mirror over there,” She pointed behind Rai to the tinted widow behind him. “I came in because I didn’t want to have my baby lie about what’s waiting for him at home.”

“How—how much of that was a lie?”

Mudrax supported Yula with his arms as she moved over so he could look at the reporter better.  “All I will tell you is that Yula, like most wives of male trolls in porn, doesn’t care who I screw at work as long as I don’t screw for love with anyone other than her. Since she’s a porn actress herself, she’ll know.”

She ran her fingers over his chest. “Mudrax performs better with me that he does for anyone else. Even in three ways with another woman, he screws me harder.”

“But you said—“

“I never said anything. You said troll women shunned male porn actors, not me. I just decided to play along because you obviously thought you were going to get a big story out of this, one that would get you a better job. But you’re not going anywhere because you obviously failed to do things every journalist should do, like researching the background the people you’re interviewing.”

Mudrax stood up and put her on her feet. They locked arms.

“Come on baby,” she said, “let’s leave this loser to his shame while we prove him wrong, all night long.”

Mudrax’s face suddenly lit up. “I got a better idea,” he said.

She smiled while looking at Rai, knowing what he was thinking.

“How would you like to be a porn producer?” Mudrax asked.

Rai stood up, picked up his remote and stepped back. “Better than being a journalist. Start fucking…” He clicked on the remote. “Now!”

“And cut!” A voice said over an intercom. The camera pods hovering above and around them stopped filming. The troll director walked in. “Thanks for your help, Rai.”

Rai smiled. “Who better to play a journalist, than a real journalist?”

“Come back in three hours for the finishing shots. I know you’ve got other stories to cover but it’ll be nice for continuity if you just didn’t disappear. I hate when that happens.”

“Count on it… but one thing, how much of that was real?”

“Almost all of it. Many women do shun troll porn actors,” Yula leaned against Mudrax.” But I don’t.” Yula was actually married to Mudrax. They were performing a scene together, as they occasionally did, in movie a called Troll Romance 4.

“Being authentic is what wins awards,” the director said.

“So how does the wider troll community view you?”

“Any objections my parents had disappeared when I bought them a new aircraft,” Mudrax said.

“Well good luck with the scene.”

Yula looked up at her husband. “We’ve been practicing .”

Rai walked out of the studio as the director called action. His actual camera pod was in the hallway waiting for him.

Rai might not have had the more prestigious beat, but nothing else would have been so much fun.

Read this and sixteen brand new short stories in Sandworm Rodeo!

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What Lies Within Chapter 1

The crowd at the taping of the return episode of ‘Revelations With Ebb’ was harsh; the packed audience filled the studio with booing the second he walked out on stage.

“You’re a fraud!”

“I divorced because of you!”

“Go back to your degenerate kind!”

“Tell us the truth!”

Ebb was chastened by the response, because he deserved it. For years, being the only goblin shaman in town, he could get away with being a self-help guru, selling insights especially formulated for mass consumption. This boiled down to absolving people of personal responsibility for their problems and telling his guests that everything would be alright. This, of course, was not what a shaman’s insights actually did. It usually scared people into changing, otherwise, everything wouldn’t be alright.

He never once used his divination powers. He never once asked Ulax, the All-Seeing, for true insight. Only his downtrodden goblin breathren got true insight, because keeping the status quo was not a good thing for the poorest, most abused and suffering hominid race.

Ebb could get away with this as long as the general population didn’t know better. Then Eluna showed up and showed the world a shaman’s true power. The power to change history. In this case, it was helping the Avian Syndicate bring New Delta to its knees.

Now the city knew that a shaman could see beyond themselves, to anything in the present, concrete or abstract, except other shamen, and those covered with a special enchanted cream.

Ebb stood in front of the comforting, pastel-toned set taking his licks for a moment before raising his hand. The audience quieted down, slightly.

“The liar wants to speak!”

“Let’s hear the filth!”

“Ye say me lie, me conceal shaman true power. This is true, me lie, me not tell ye reality. So me tell ye truth. Ye sir,” he pointed to a middle aged human in the second row. “What ye here for?”

“If you say you’re a shaman prove it, you tell me.”

Ebb shut his eyes. He saw the man’s problem and its true cause. “Ye here because ye have problem in bedroom with mate. Ye want me to say it her fault. That she no try. It ye fault, ye lazy. Ye no try new thing.” The man squirmed in his seat. “Ye,” He pointed to a human woman in the front row, ”tell me.”

“I can’t find a boyfriend.”

“Stop being clingy so much.”Ebb pointed to a Deltan elf male in the fourth row. “Nobody like ye because ye asshole!”

He pointed to human woman in the fifth. “Ye spend too much money on useless stuff.” He pointed to the man next to her. “Ye son can’t no be gay, grow up!” One by one, Ebb went through audience member after member, cutting them down, until the audience was silent, each lost in their own shame. “Now ye want the raw, uncensored truth?”

The audience said nothing, until a young goblin female in the front row raised her hand. “What about me? What me problem?”

“Ye problem be that ye only one in audience that problem no ye own doing.” He took her hand and walked her up on stage. “This girl be special. This girl like me.” A man in the audience was about to stand and heckle, but Ebb lifted up Eluna’s shirt, revealing a nasty scar running through her grey skin from her groin to lower abdomen. “This be Eluna problem. This be symptom of city who no care about reality.”

“But it was your people who threw her out!”

“Yeah, we had nothing to do with her!”

“That be true, that be very true. But why did goblin-kind banish her? Me tell you. Average goblin male age expectancy is thirty. Female, forty. Females will have at least three mates in lifetime, because the other two die. Average goblin male land in Penitentiary at least twice. Unemployment rate for average goblin male thirty-three percent. One in seventy goblin mothers die in childbirth.  Goblins die so fast, all females can do is pump out babies all time and hope no die before she do.”

“So what? That’s not our problem!”

“Yes it be your problem!” Ebb screamed. The hecklers slammed down in their seats. “Ye all sit in ye nice apartments, eat ye nice food, sleep in nice warm bed. Yet ye ignore the starving in shadows, the sick in gutters, the dead just beyond ye doors! Ye pretend everything be great, when reality comes, ye blame the downtrodden for their action. Avians killers but avian rage legitimate. Eluna justifiable accomplice, but her pain real. Me wrong for lying? Yes. Me wrong for believing ye spoiled brats who no deserve truth? No. If ye can’t handle truth, but hate for me telling ye what ye want, then ye get nothing from me! Me quit!”

Ebb grabbed Eluna’s hand and stormed out of the studio.

“How ye help suffering now?”

“There be a way. There always be a way.”

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Keeping Things Hidden: Why it Doesn’t Work for Me.

I like superheroes. In fact, I like superheroes so much I once wrote an 80k superhero novel that sucked so horribly I will never speak of it again(though the world might reappear).

Anyways, my one problem with the superhero genre (and one that seems to be disappearing in many instances) is the idea of the secret identity. Superman has Clark Kent, Spider Man has Peter Parker. But if  you think about it, there’s no way the general public hasn’t figured out their secret identity(though Peter Parker did reveal he was Spider Man in Marvel’s Civil War, but it was only as  choice). Every time superman appears, Clark Kent disappears.  The editors at the Daily Bugle never really try to find out exactly how PeterPaker gets all those amazing Spiderman pictures without being injured or dying.

In sci-fi/fantasy, its even worse, as magic, vampires, werewolves, aliens or whatever, are hidden from the general public. Books, movies, comic books, tv shows, you see this a lot. Harry Potter, the Dresden Files, Men in Black, Charmed ect. They all have ways to explain how these things are hidden, but the longer things go on, it gets harder and harder to accept.  Somebody has to see something, somebody has to reveal something, especially when these things regularly try to end the world. You can’t just expect people not to notice or accept the umpteenth flimsy explanation.

Not all worlds are like this, Dr. Who for example, does not try to hide what’s going on and its more believable that way.

And it’s not just worlds directly based on our own world that keeping things hidden can be problematic.

In the earlier versions of K23, I tried to keep Uthirans hidden from the average hominid, but it didn’t work. Yes, please ignore the entire continent full of dragons meddling in your political affairs(Cybermagic novels); or, please ignore your coworker behaving strangely, as they are anything but a dragon in disguise(Hidden in Plain Sight). The latter idea is why HIPS eventually stalled.

When I sketched out K23, I just made Uthirans part of society and it worked.

Sure there’s a reason sci-fi/ fantasy will use the hidden convention: they may look like average people, but secretly they’re superheroes, or wizards, vampire hunters, work with aliens ect, it’s called fantasy for a reason. And it’s appealing, it just doesn’t work in the long run After seven books or movies,  or seasons things remaining hidden gets harder and harder to accept from a world building perspective.

This is simply my opinion, of course. But for me, I find the idea of the  fantastical being all around us and accessible more fun and easier to work with, than it being secret with a just few knowing the truth.

Terrall in Depth

Terrall in Depth: Avian Design and Influence

By now, I’m sure most of you are familiar with this cover. It shows an New Delta avian, a bright purple bird with arms. They live on perches, shit where they stand and use their beaks to manipulate the world. Most of them also Talk. Like. This.

In essence, these are fantasy parrots, specifically large macaws. My influences are spelled out in the book’s dedication:

To Rocco, Daisy, Louie, Sweetiepie, Elvie and all the other large macaws at the Wilson Parrot Foundation who inspired the avian characters in this book.

Those are real birds who live the Wilson Parrot Foundation where I volunteer and I used them to create my avians.  I spent many hours watching and recording them. I put many of their actions verbatim into the book, including the dancing in chapter 42.  In fact, Rocco here:

is whom I based Sisqub, the Avian Syndicate’s leader, upon. Rocco is a very regal, refined parrot who I always imagined speaking perfect English.

Now let’s get into the nut and bolts of character design.

In fantasy, animal/human hybrids are almost always humans with animal characteristics. Your fantasy bird-men look generally like this:

Stock fantasy here

While actual birds look like this:

This is Jake

Note when Jake lifts his wings, he’s using his huge pectoral muscles to lift. You can tell his by his chest muscle being flexed.  Because the placement of his feet, his body is remaining in line with the ground, causing each flap to lift his entire body.  Jake could take off from this position if his wings weren’t clipped. His leg would move back into a straight line.  This is why I placed my avian’s arms where they are, so they can be used to easily carry things during flight and fold along their body when not in use.

Birds are also very light, with hollow bones. Also, every single feather (and every strand in those feathers) has a unique lift equation associated with it.

As for that sketch above, why that creature can’t fly should be obvious. When he flaps his wings, he’s flapping them back and forth, not up and down. Therefore, he’s creating absolutely no lift at all. There are other problems too: lack of feathers, weight and so on. Basically, BAD FANTASY ARTISTS! BAD, BAD!

Yeah yeah, I know this is fantasy so people can make  up whatever they want. This is true, but when I went about designing Terrall, I asked myself: if fantasy creatures actually evolved, what would they look like and how they live? That is why I based my birdmen on actual birds, using parrots, the birds I come in contact with the most.

This tenet is all over the place, even beyond my avians. It’s why my version of dark elves don’t live underground, since if they did they wouldn’t have dark skin – more on them when I get to Deltan elves later on. Once I reveal my versions of cat-men, dog-men (kobolds), lizard-men and mermaids in later stories, you’ll also see a similar design philosophy at play.

In essence,  my world is science-influenced fantasy (though not science fiction). Here’s another way one could look at it: instead of starting with humans and adding animal characteristics, I start with animals and add human characteristics. There’s a big difference there.

I  could go on talking about why the avians are portrayed as criminals (part behavior, part plight in the pet trade) but I don’t want to have to spoil the plot right now.

A Clear and Feathered Danger is currently free on Smashwords for a limited time.

What Lies Within, the second K23 Detectives novel, can be purchased for .99 cents at Amazon or Smashwords

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