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K23 Detectives

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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Fiction K23 Side Story

K23 Side Story: Sandworm Rodeo

Yes, this was an actual story!

This story is what spawned that cover!

 

Payol Chincrusher was going to die. The orc was dehydrated and standing in 110-degree heat a few hundred yards from the Meran Ocean, a vast body of water which bordered the Alamaro Wastes. He stumbled over the flat burning sand and collapsed.

This was what happened when you screwed over the Mol Borang, a large hijacking ring that stole millions of credits worth of Barrenlands ore every year. He snitched on them after his bosses refused to give him a fair share, letting the powers that be know when a major heist was planned. Dozens of Mol Borang were killed. In return, the Mol Borang dumped him in the Wastes to die, a far more insidious death than just shooting him.

As his consciousness began to fade, he noticed something odd. There were dozens of eye tentacles poking up a few inches above the sand in a long line parallel to the shore. Payol instantly knew what they belonged to: Brac’tai, the amphibious round tentacle things that spawned in Elemchi’s waterways and then drifted around the world, wherever the ocean currents would take them. A bunch always ended up in New Delta, working for Ashram-Uriah but many never did.

Despite where they were, these Brac’tai were very much alive, as every eye was focused squarely on him.

He was saved.

Brac’tai were living water filters, able to survive in all but the most polluted waterways, their bodies filtering everything but necessary nutrients. Unfortunately for most city-states, using Brac’tai to filter their water was impractical and they would need millions to make any serious difference.

“Help me,” Payol moaned.

A sandy tentacle came out of the ground, wrapped around Payol, and a brac’tai pulled itself up so that its large gaping mouth was flat with the ground, becoming a goblet of cool water, which the brac’tai sponged in. This would be highly embarrassing if anyone saw him, but life was life. He drank.

Then Payol notice the sand that shifted upwards with the brac’tai was wet. This made sense being so close to the water that he could hear the drone of the ocean. Being buried in the sand must have let them gather and conserve water while their skin let them breathe. Still, what they were doing here was somewhat of a mystery. There was nothing here.

The answer came when the ground began to shake and everyone, Bac’tai and orc alike, began to rise out of the sand to massive cheers. The Brac’tai had attached themselves to bumps on the skin of the Alamaro’s sole natural inhabitant: sandworms. Sandworms were hundreds of feet long and slid over and beneath the sand, living off microbes in the sand. They were what made the Alamaro Wastes uninhabitable everywhere but the City of Sands. This was due to the sandworms being unable to pass through rock, a fact which also made sure the worms stayed out of the rest of Hominia.

As the worm rose, the Brac’tai that had saved Payol turned around, and Parol held on for dear life.

He saw that they were towards the front of the worm, where its large gaping mouth was located. Its mouth contained several teeth, which loosened the packed sand at deeper depths for easier digestion. The ingested sand would travel through the worm’s giant stomach and would be expelled out the animal‘s rear end. While they weren’t carnivorous creatures, standing in a worm’s way meant you’d be swallowed, digested and expelled.

The sandworm, once it had surfaced, tilted itself upwards and then slammed back down, to even louder cheers.

Payol began to rock as the worm contracted and relaxed, pulling itself along the ground, the bumps on its flesh giving it traction on the fine sand. The Brac’tai began to slap the worm’s rough skin, causing it to move faster. The rocking turned into a constant vibration as it accelerated.

The Brac’tai then pulled at once to the right and the sandworm turned inland. The wind was now beginning to rush against Payol’s face as the sandworm reached speeds so fast the front of the worm lifted off the sand as it traveled.

The Brac’tai bounced and the sandworm dived into the sand. Payol shut his eyes and held his breath as the sand tore his soaked clothes off his body. His thick orc hide stayed intact, clutching the cool slimy Brac’tai even tighter.

The Brac’tai leaned back and the sandworm rushed up and launched into the air. At the apex the sandworm turned down. For a split-second, Payol was weightless, floating in the air. A rush went to his head.

He began to cry out in joy with the Brac’tai as the worm dived back into the sand, and then launch again.

Up and down, up and down they went, over and over again in an exhilarating ride. How long this lasted he didn’t know, but the ride eventually ended and the worm sank into the sand far enough that Payol was back on the sand.

The City of Sands glistened in the afternoon sun, the worm as close as it would go.

Payol patted the Brac’tai. “Thank you.” They all chirped.  Payol stood up and walked a few feet. Then the sandworm began to rise back up as the brac’tai waved goodbye.

The sand began to burn and Payol dashed towards civilization, food and clothes. The sandworm turned around, taking the Brac’tai back towards the ocean. They would probably just soak up more water and go for another ride or two before heading back into the oceans, departing for other ports of call.

As much Payol wanted to stay with them, he had other things to do, like deal with the Mog Boral and maybe start a business sending tours on sandworm rides.

As he reached the City, an enormous metal box, Payol dismissed the latter idea.

The expense from lost clothes would probably put him out of business.

Fiction K23 Side Story

K23 Side Story: Finality

Every time the clockwork gear clicked in the clock on the mantel along the wall in his study, Alvar Tanner’s heart skipped a beat and his trepidation rose.

14:25:37.

14:25:38.

14:25:39.

His study was silent. He had sent his family away. He wanted to be alone.

14:25:44.

14:25:45.

14:25:46.

The plush armchair he sat in was no longer comforting. His clothes were soaked with sweat.

14:25:58.

14:25:59.

14:26:00.

Four more minutes!

The seconds were counting up to 14:30:00, when he would reach one hundred years and a day…when his time would finally come to an end. He was in great shape at one hundred, looking like he was in his early forties.

That was all thanks to the arcane age-extending treatments he’d paid through the nose for. Every year since his late-twenties, a mage would say a few incantations, inject Alvar with some concoctions and Alvar would physically age at a fifth of his normal rate, starting from the moment of the treatment. Regardless of when one started the treatment, they’d always die at the same age: one hundred years and a day. At that moment, one would suddenly look their age then promptly die. And if they missed a treatment, the years they‘d “skipped“ would instantly catch up with them.

14:26:55.

14:26:56.

14:26:57.

Most who underwent the treatments until a hundred simply sedated themselves so they died in their sleep. Alvar couldn’t sleep. Most underwent the treatments to remain in good health until the end. Alvar underwent the treatments because he feared death. He was terrified of losing all that he had.

14:27:30.

14:27:31.

14:27:32.

Alvar was rich, the owner of a successful aircraft manufacturer called Ansala. He lived in a huge luxury apartment filled with things gathered from his travels over the four continents. He had been married to the love of his life for seventy years, though he had lost her when she hit a hundred and a day a few months before. He had four children, eight grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren.

14:28:00.

14:28:01.

14:28:02.

A Uthiran acquaintance named Baroglong who was pushing eight-hundred told Alvar he was lucky. There was a reason all Uthirans eventually went mad. It was the only way they could deal with the time. His acquaintance was obsessive-compulsive, nearly eating Alvar when he moved a chair out of place in the Uthiran’s warehouse den. Alvar didn’t care, he still wanted to live for a thousand years.

14:28:59.

14:29:00.

14:29:01.

Less than a minute to go. There was nothing anyone could do. The most advanced medical technology in the world would not able to extend his life. Any more treatments were pointless.

14:29:35.

14:29:36.

14:29:37.

His time was up. He could do nothing but reluctantly give in. He held up a small mirror and looked at himself.

14:29:58.

15:29:59.

14:30:00!

The clock chimed on the mantel and continued clicking away, but Alvar didn’t hear it. Alvar had gone deaf. He could no longer see himself; he’d went blind.

His hair fell out. His teeth rotted. His skin wrinkled and sagged. His bones went brittle. He took one last wheezing breath and his heart stopped…

But that was not the end, not yet. His soul had one stop to make on its journey to oblivion. It was a limbo of sorts where all the souls of the sentient went, a place where Thagnar the Dead stripped souls of their attachments to their previous life. It was these attachments which would keep them whole. The souls of plants, insects, microbes and the like skipped this step, as they formed no attachments; most were not even aware they were ever alive at all.

The experience in that limbo was different for each soul, mirroring the life they had lived. For Alvar, he was sitting exactly where he was, still in his forties, but with one small difference. His wife, Osana, stood in front of him looking radiant and beautiful in her prime.

She walked to him and took his hand. “It’ll be ok, Alvar, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Death comes to all things in time. It ‘s the way of the universe.”

“But I didn’t want to go. It’s not fair!” He pulled his hand away.

She bent down and took his head in her heads, forcing him to stare into her sparkling brown eyes. “I didn’t want to die either, but I accepted it and slept through the end. Thagnar allowed me to stay here and take the final steps into nothingness with you.”

He pushed her back. “You’re not Osana! The last thing she did before she took the pills was saying her final goodbyes, leaving no lingering regrets!”

Osana transformed into Thagnar the Dead, a hooded figure with skeletal hands. All one could see of his face was glowing red eyes. “Osana was easy,” the deity said in a deep baritone. “She split apart with little effort.”

Alvar crossed his legs and arms and looked away. “You’re evil!”

Thagnar laughed. “I am not evil. I am necessary, While Illwyn can always form new souls from the infinite energy, without me and the end I bring, life is not worth living. Let me show you something.”

Alvar and the chair found themselves in a massive cavern with a large opening to the outside on a wall and a brook running through it. In the center of the cavern was a humongous blue Uthiran, at least a hundred feet long, curled up on the ground. Its eyes were glazed over. Its mouth hung open, a pool of drool forming on the ground. Occasionally an electric spark traveled over its scales and sent twitches through its wings and tail.

“We are on Uthira, mere moments after you died. No one here can notice your presence as you are now simply divine energy. That Uthiran lying there, named Imsomon, is twenty-five hundred years old, older than New Delta itself. Look at him,” Thagnar pointed a bony finger, “He’s catatonic. The mental stress of seeing empires rise and fall and mountains erode into hills has left his mind fractured and broken. He spends every day sitting in that very spot, staring off into space, growing ever larger and more powerful even though most of him will never move again under his own power.”

Another blue Uthiran two-thirds Imsomon’s size slowly walked in carrying a torn carcass of something. “Dinner, father,” she said to him in Dragon with a soft tone. She put the carcass down, tore off a hunk of meat and slowly chewed it. She pried Imsomon’s mouth open a little further and spit the meat inside. Imsomon swallowed.

“You are watching a daughter’s love for her father, a love that over the millennia-and-a-half of her life has become an obsession. All Thaxia does is care for her catatonic father: Feeding him regurgitated meat; giving him water from the brook; cleaning his orifices and removing his waste. She feeds from the same carcass, drinks from the same water, lives in the same cave. Her identity is his identity.”

“But why?” Alvar asked. “I thought Uthirans stopped dealing with their parents completely after a few centuries.”

“For many that is true; but not for all. Thaxia was the strongest of her brood, the one Imsomon was proud of the most. He took her under his wing and molded her into a strong and powerful dragon even as his mental state deteriorated. She never moved far, and when he finally went completely catatonic a millennia ago—“

“You can’t be serious!” Alvar screamed.

Thaxia began collecting water for him in her jaw.

“It is true,” Thagnar replied. “Imsomon has been laying here and Thaxia has been caring for him in the exact same way for the last three-hundred sixty-five thousand days… give or take a thousand or two.”

Thaxia was holding her father’s jaw up as she poured water down his throat.

Thagnar continued, “When he dies, she will die as well. Her purpose for living this long will be gone.”

Alvar put his head in his hands. If he could cry he would. “Stop this! I don’t want to see it anymore!”

Thangar waved his hand and Alvar’s face turned to look at the Uthirans. Thaxia walked back to the brook to collect more water.

“No. You must that learn that the longer you live beyond your time, the more of a relic and a burden you become. They have both lived long beyond their time, stuck in an endless cycle of repetition because there is nothing else. But do not worry, I have shown you them because that seemingly infinite cycle of days is not infinite after all.”

Thaxia came back with a second mouthful, but let it splash on the ground when she felt no breath. Imsomom’s body was limp. His eyes were closed. There were no more sparks. Thaxia sniffed and nudged her father a few times. She let out a pathetic roar and collapsed next to him. Her breathing slowed, and then stopped.

The cavern vanished and Alvar stood in a black void with Thagnar in front of him. The deity extended his hand. “So now do you understand why all things must come to an end?”

Alvar nodded. “Yes, I do. My life ended when it was still very good. I am glad that I have lived a long and fulfilling existence. My time has passed.”

He took Thagnar’s hand.

In an instant Alvar Tanner ceased to exist. His soul was decimated, his existence no more. His soul’s energy was now in Illwyn’s care. She would form it into a completely new soul which would give life to someone yet to be born.

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.

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.

Terrall in Depth

Terrall in Depth: The Uthirans

Mordridakon: Fantasy dragon and private detective

Uthirans are what I call the K23 Universe’s magical and intelligent variety of dragons.  Named after the continent they come from, Uthirans are a departure from your standard fantasy dragons for two very big reasons: I attempt to explain how giant magical and intelligent flying lizards would live and I integrate these dragons fully into hominid society and not as fancy horses.

Uthirans are known as The Children of Harderith, the Dragon Mother (they aren’t the only Children, there are also the Komodo, or drakes, but that’s another post) .  Note this isn’t literal but figurative, as every Uthiran is naturally able to channel Harderith’s divine energy and it manifests itself through breed abilities.

First,  all Uthirans have the ability to transform into a hominid. However, Uthirans can only transform into one specific hominid. For example, when Mordridakon transforms, he’ll always transform into the same human form every time.   Uthirans can also learn other forms of magic if they choose to.

There are seven Uthiran breeds, each corresponding to a particular scale color and breed ability that governs how they hunt for food.

The breeds are:

  • Red Uthirans: Breathes fire and has scales as hard as diamonds that allow it withstand high temperatures.  Love living in geothermically active areas.
  • White Uthirans: Opposites of Reds, they breathe ice and can withstand freezing temperatures. They love high elevations and the northern finges of Uthira.
  • Green Uthirans: Breathes sulfuric acid and secretes a virulent poison via their scales. They prefer living in swamps and other wetlands.
  • Blue Uthirans: Breaths lightning and generates a heavy static charge. Prefers costal areas.
  • Black Uthirans: Can meld into shadows and disappear. Can also generate darkness in a limited radius. Blacks like forests, because they have the most shade.
  • Silver Uthirans: Can break the sound barrier. The sonic boom created by this stuns their prey. They love canyons and steep mountainous areas.
  • Gold Uthirans:  Golds can transform into any animal they want. They literally become that animal, their smell even changes to match. So if they transformed into a goat, they’d look, smell and act like a goat. The uses for this when hunting are obvious. Blend in with a herd of goats and when the time is right, transform back and chow down. The most powerful Golds can even transform body parts completely, so they can have a human body but a clawed hand, for example. While all breeds can do it – Mordridakon does it in Deltan Skies – they can only do it partially for very short periods of time. Finally, while Golds can tranform into other Uthiran breeds, they are unable to mimic their specific breed abilities. Golds will live just about anywhere.

A Brutal Life

Violence begins the moment Uthirans are hatched, where they fight with their few dozen siblings for dominance in the nest. Almost immediately, the weakest hatchlings and any that are deformed are eaten by their fathers, who do so on instinct. Fathers who eat more than they should generally wind up killed off by mates, as females are more powerful precisely so they can defend their brood from overly hungry and/or violent males.  Then the offspring are put through a series of tests to weed out the weak. The three tests are the sun test, the flight test and the breed power test. Hopefully, this will leave between two to five of the strongest offspring, at which point they are named. Those that pass all three tests will spend the next century growing. They’ll learn to speak Dragon, harness their powers and survive the clan system.

The clan system is how a continent full of giant carnivores doesn’t run out of prey. A clan controls who can live and hunt in a particular area. Clan size is determined by number of dwellings in an area (Burrows/caves/forest glades/desert oases etc) and the amount of prey in an area. Desert and glacier clans have the lowest number of members, sometimes as low as a dozen, and plains clans have the most, with hundreds or even thousands of members. Joining a clan is simply a matter of moving into a dwelling, usually by killing off the current resident or waiting for a catanonic resident to starve. Whiles in the plains dragons can dig themselves a dwelling, that prey number becomes really important. If dragons dig themselves a burrow in an already packed area, their burrows will collapse with the resident usually inside.

Once out of the parents’ dwelling, young Uthirans are on their own to find their own dwellings. They will almost never have any contact with their parents ever again, unless an offspring moves within the clan, which is rare. Siblings will stick together for a century or two until they too split up. Adult Uthirans generally live alone until it’s time to mate. Note that breed type is determined solely by the father. Dragons that have lived exclusively on Uthira with generally mate with their own breed. Those that have spent time on Hominia or Elemchi are less picky. Females will generally lay about 24-36 eggs in a circular nest made up of rocks or earth and lay on them for the next year. During this time, the females are completely dependent on males for food as they don’t leave the nest except to drink and to “go to the bathroom.”  Once the eggs have hatched, the pair will spend the next century with their offspring. Once their children are gone, pairs quickly split up.

Now, in order to explain the end of a Uthrian’s life, I need to introduce an important aspect of K23 dragons: the fact they all go insane.

 Insanity:

The biggest problem I have with the way most fantasy dragons are portrayed is the ridiculous lifespans they have. Dragons routinely live for ten thousand years without an attempt to explain how they manage to do it. The most recent example I can think of is in Skyrim, where you encounter  a dragon called Paarthunax who casually mentions that he’s waited around for nine thousand years for the big baddie dragon to return. I did a double-take. Really? And what did he do for all the time? The game doesn’t really explain it beyond “running the Greybeards” and leaves it at that.

How are you not bored out of your mind?

The easy answer to “what does a dragon do for ten thousand years?” is sleep, but sleep for what? The hero to come along and slay them for thier treasure. But why would a dragon hoard treasure in the first place? Its not like they have any use for it… unless they’re hoarders, the neurotic kind featured on Hoarders.  Besides, Uthirans can’t snooze for eons in order to protect their precious dwellings. A hibernating Uthiran is a dead Uthiran.

The Uthirans of K23 do not get weaker as they as age, their bodies continually grow stronger with time, sometimes becoming thirty feet tall and hundreds of feet in length . Their minds, however, do degrade.  After they reach maturity at one hundred,  Uthirans are completely sharp and mentally sound for the next two hundred years or so. Starting about three-hundred years of age, Uthirans begin to develop various neuroses. These disorders run the full range from various kinds of addictions and obsessions, like being a shopaholic (the addiction of  Mordridakon’s sister Selkath) or voyeurism, common among blacks, to serious illnesses like schizophrenia, most common among golds.

They are able to keep their neuroses in check for centuries and lead healthy and productive lives generally until between eight hundred and a thousand years-old, at which point most will start to mentally deteriorate, becoming crazier and crazier, generally becoming babbling lunatics. Assuming a Uthiran manages to live long enough, they’ll end up catatonic, their mind completely fried. Unless they’re lucky and have a offspring  to care for them because they live in the same clan and still talk to them, a Uthiran will be left to starve to death helpless and alone.  But even with care, a Uthiran will still eventually die, even if it takes a few more millennia.

Uthirans Elsewhere:

In most fantasy, when dragons aren’t trying to kill our heroes or snoozing, they’re either glorified horses or hidden within society.  The horses part I can take care of with riding-dragons, which were bred from an extinct Hominia-dwelling dragon genetically distinct from the Uthirans. I’ll go more into them when I eventually discuss the Teolian Rangers.

Unlike the dragons of Pern, no self respecting Uthiran will carry people around unless its convenient or profitable to do so. And if they do have riders, the Uthirans are still in charge.

The hidden part, on the other hand, took a few tries. In the Cybermagic novels, Uthirans lived apart from hominids, only becoming part of Hominian affairs in secret. The overarching arc was an Uthiran civil-war over how to integrate into Hominia, either living in harmony with them or eating them for dinner. Then in Hidden in Plain Sight, my failed attempt at rebooting Cybermagic, the plot revolved around a schizophrenic gold Uthiran serial killer. In that draft Uthirans lived secretly among hominids, always remaining transformed. But as i got farther along in that draft, I found the idea that dragons living among hominids perfectly content to remained transformed with only a select few hominids even knowing they were there completely absurd. I decided to trash that draft because I couldn’t make the Uthiran serial killer plot work with Uthirans as they were. For K23 Detectives, I just decided to make them fully integrated, which made things creatively much easier and more interesting.

Uthirans outside Uthira can  keep their dragon identities and are free to live and move about as long as they don’t do two things. First, they must abide by all local laws; this includes eating the local sentient hominids, purrs, kobolds, komodo etc. which is generally forbidden except in certain instances. Second, they can’t breed on Hominia or Elemchi, period. Since Uthirans generally stay on Hominia and Elemchi for a few centuries, they’ll find future mates, essentially boyfriends and girlfriends except that they don’t spend much time together before they mate in order not to kill each other.  Uthirans are kept in check by a multitude of organizations going under various monikers like the New Delta’s Department of Uthiran Affairs.

On Hominia, Uthirans are found in large concentrations in two places. The first is the City of Sands, where the J’Harderith religion feeds a revolving group of Uthirans convicts in their temple. Uthirans are allow to dwell in the temple for five days at a time, at which point they leave so new Uthirans can gleefully feed. Those that won’t leave are killed. Even if they aren’t allowed to dwell in the temple, plenty of Uthirans remain, feeding off the endless stream of riffraff that show up.

The second is, of course, New Delta, where there are a multitude of services that cater to Uthirans and their needs. The most famous of these is the fly-through eatery, large fields at the top of towers filled with livestock that Uthirans are allowed to pick off and eat for a fee. Uthirans love them as  only live prey provides the nutrition they need to be in their natural forms. While Uthirans can survive transformed eating a hominid diet, they don’t like to live that way.  Uthirans in New Delta live in specially modified warehouses so they can sleep in their natural form.  While the Medical Center does not have a Uthiran Wing, Cybrix does because they are largest employer of Uthirans in New Delta outside of the Department of Uthiran Affairs. Uthirans can become citizens and vote, though no Uthiran Senator has ever been elected because getting thousands of Uthirans to agree on anything is impossible.

Terrall in Depth

Terrall In Depth: The Hominid Races

I should’ve done this months ago but I wanted to wait until I had original artwork. I need to do this anyway, though, so as a result,  I currently  have no original drawings  for any of this with the exception of the goblins. I’ll add them eventually as they get drawn (if anyone wants to draw fan art I could use, I’d love you forever and ever!)

There are 8 traditional Hominid races, though as in our world racial divides can be murky. Not everyone speaks common, so I denote the language they traditionally speak. When it comes to naming conventions, they only hold for new characters. Cybermagic holdovers can break them (Glenn Lowry, Derrick Hatrigan).

The Hominia Article may prove useful here.

Humans

Native Reigion: Southern Deltan Plains, a hot dry savannah.

Appearance:  Think Afro-Hispanic.

Life Expectancy: 75 years, 100 with age extensions.

Native Language: Common

Attributes: Humans in K23 are not jack of all trades. They excel in technology and can only use hand magic.

Patron Deity: Elohim, The Holy.

Major Settlements (with large populations): New Delta, City of Sands

Naming: I take a Hispanic name and pair it with a random surname.

Teolian and Deltan Elves

Elves are split into two groups.

Native Region: All Elves originated from the Forest of Illwyn. Deltan elves were Teolian elf immigrants to New Delta who darkened over the generations due to UV radiation.

Appearance: Think your standard High Elf for Teolian Elves and Dark Elves for Deltan Elves. Both elf types 5 to 5.5 feet tall.

Life Expectancy: Teolian Elves, about 135. Deltan Elves, about 140(due to not being a bunch of  back-stabbing bastards).

Native Language: Elven for Teolian Elves. Deltan Elves mostly speak Common(but do learn Elven).

Attributes: The strongest homind magic users in K23 outside of Uthirans, this applies to both Teolian and Deltan Elves. The Teolian elves are meager technologically but Deltan elves are strong technology users because of where they live.

Patron Deity: Illwyn, The Lifebringer

Major Settlements: Teolos(Teolian Elves) New Delta(Deltan Elves).

Naming conventions: I generally use elven name generators, and will shorten names if a little too long and unwieldy.

Dwarves and Gnomes 

Native Region: Cromag Underground.

Appearance: Again your fantasy dwarves and Dungeons and Dragons style gnomes

Within K23, the two races look even more similar that these pictures indicate. Really, K23 Dwarves are slightly taller, bulkier and hairier than the K23 Gnomes. They look so similar, most gnarves could be mistaken for one or the other and identify as such.  Both are 4-4.5 feet tall, with dwarves averaging closer to 4.5 feet than gnomes.

Average Life expectancy: Around a hundred years.

Native Languages: Gnomish for both. While Dwarves do have their own language, nobody ever speaks it outside of formal settings.

Attributes: Dwarves are expert miners and industrious. Gnomes are 2nd best in technology and magic. Gnarves are, to quote the Impending Darkness: “…magic-using little people who mined using giant steam-powered machines.”

Patron Deity: Breunor the Undergod

Major Settlements: Brocenback(Dwarves) and Alkhan(Gnomes).

Naming conventions: Generally use name generators for both.

Ogres

Native area: Ogunlands

Appearance:

Life Expectancy: 60 Years

Attributes: Really, really strong but really really stupid in general.

Native Language: Really terrible Ogun.

Patron Deity: Thagnar, The Dead

Major Settlements: Gruck, New Delta

Naming Convention: 3-6 letter name with a “The (Adjective)  surname.

Goblins

Native: From Hominia but nowhere in particular as they were nomads for eons

Appearance:goblins are short(4.5-5 feet) little grey dudes (or dudettes) with stringy black hair brown eyes and non-pointy ears.

Life Expectancy: Varies, but generally 30 for males, 40 for females.

Attributes:  Most mistreated and maligned race. Very intelligent, and known for Shamanism (and can learn other types of magic too, but generally don’t).

Native Language: Ogun.

Patron Deity: Thagnar, The Dead

Major Settlements: New Delta, Gruck

Naming convention: 3-7 letter names, they have short 2-3 letter clan/family names, but rarely used.

Trolls

Native region: Southern rain forests on the continent Elemchi

Appearance: Your male trolls are big blocky and green. Trolls females  look like She-Hulk.

Life expectancy: about 80 years.

Attributes: Males trolls are sex machines and natural porn talent. Female trolls are rulers of traditional Troll society. Both sexes are very strong, second only to ogres.

Native Language: Banwatle

Patron Deity: Thagnar, the Dead.

Major Settlement: None in particular. They only have a relatively small population in New Delta. On Elemchi, they live spread out.

Naming Convention: Same as ogres, 3-6 letter name with a “The (Adjective)  surname.

Orcs

Native Region: Metillywn (Jungle of Illwyn) on Elemchi.

Appearance: Your standard Warcraft Orc

Life Expectancy: 65 years(due to constant fighting).

Attributes: Exceptional warriors and are very “street smart.”

Native Language: Banwatle

Patron Deity: Illwyn, The Lifebringer

Major Settlements: Thakkenhul, The City of Bone (on Elemchi)

Naming Conventions: Use the standard name generators.

Terrall in Depth

Terrall in Depth: New Delta Era Timeline

This is a rough timeline of major events since New Delta’s founding. Note for the first thousand years, not a whole lot was going on outside of tower construction which was very slow. Here is the timeline for before New Delta.

8001: Elohim ordains creation of New Delta, Order of Elohim and Cybrix Technologies founded.

8002: Aquillia ordains Mers to help in construction.

8009: Foundation Completed.

8013: Tower A-1 constructed.

8076: First Deltan elf born due to mutations caused by sunlight radiation.

8100-ish: First avians arrive. Like nesting on very tops of towers, rest of city annoyed. Marginalization begins.

8339: Seed Corp founded.

8423: Teolos and New Delta signed non-aggression treaty.

8579: Deltan Elves now considered race separate from Teolian Elves.

8900: Purple Deltan avian breed declared distinct from Elemchi avians.

8933: Private Detective Deputizing Act passed as NDPD unable to keep order in city, still only at about 495 towers. Ashram-Uriah founded as first private detective agency.

9001: Tower A-1, still in decent condition, is mysteriously condemned. Uthirans instantly seize control for site of the Department of Uthiran Affairs.

9002: Adonai Property Management spun off from Order of Elohim due to revelations the Order Cardinal was bribed to condemned the tower. APM owns all towers and leases space within.

9010: APM loses megacorp status due to scandal involving allowing managerial autonomy to human-majority towers. Private entities allowed to own towers, prompting faster expansion as OOE gains vastly more resources and money to construct.

9036: Original Armagdan Acolytes founded by Anton Crowley in New Delta.

9042: Armagdan Acolytes commit massacre in Tower A-5, killing hundreds of thousands. Anton Crowley killed by Ashram-Uriah. Armagdan Acolytes disappear.

9211: New Delta, Teolos,  Brocenback and Alkhan sign Exchange Treaty, adopting same currency(Credit), calender and measurements. The Human language, renamed Common, was set as standard business and diplomatic exchanges.

9232: Ashram-Uriah granted megacorp status due to monopoly on private detectives.

9233: Ashram-Uriah attacks NDPD. Ashram-Uriah loses civil war after three months. Barred from employing private detective, but allowed to keep megacorp status due to immense information gathering infrastructure.

9464: Gene writer invited by Biogenomics founders.

9477: Biogenomics granted Megacorp status.

9501: Tower A-1 Massacre. All avians presumed dead.

9507: Avians reappear in New Delta.

9510: The Prophet Paco leaves New Delta, goes to middle of Alamaro Wastes to an oasis, has revelation from Harderith and founds the City of Sands.

9543: Ryland Aerospace and Fusion Communications  founded

9544: Tower-mutants appear inexplicably

9548: Fusion charter revoked.

9650: First version of Legaltron becomes operational.

9691: Education For All act passed. Required city to educated all citizens for “free” stating immediately.

9692: City instantly on verge of bankruptcy. Senators who voted for it thrown out in elections.

9693: Act repealed. Education Department spun off into Academics Incorporated.

9783: Weeds in Deltan Plains gain resistance to weed killer developed by Seed Corp, causing food shortages due to crop loss.

9784: Seed Corp loses megacorp status and collapses. Remains bought by Biogenomics.

9789: A porn producer (re)discovers the “talents” of male trolls on Elemchi. Porn producer brings trolls back.  Adult industry booms. Trolls establish permanent population in New Delta.

9822-9826: Goblin plague occurs, wipes out goblin tribes and half of goblins overall. Massive numbers of goblins refugees arrive and settle in New Delta slightly above avians on the bottom of the social hierarchy.

9896: Athletics Complex completed. Hominia Athletics founded to maintain complex.

9902:New Delta Medical Center completed.

9945: Hominia Athletics completes construction of the Flight Track outside of city, allowing for professional aircraft and Uthiran racing.

9984: New Delta University completed.

9988: Legaltron Tower completed. Legaltron 7500 took complete and total control of court system.

10001: City Center Pyramid completed. Ashram-Uriah, Cybrix Technologies, Biogenomics and The Order of Elohim move in. All New Delta towers built.

10002: Jose Abernathy elected mayor.

10017: Legaltron 9000 operational.

10018; Avian Syndicate secretly bribes way to megacorp status; solidification of power on top of criminal underworld.

10020: Alfonso Deegan discovers Syndicate status. Massive scandal and backlash against avians occurs. Syndicate loses status.

Terrall in Depth

Terrall in Depth: Technology

Technology is as essential to understanding K23 as deities and magic are. After all, the first sentence in the A Clear and Feathered Danger’s description is “In the technological dystopia of New Delta…” In fact, my use of technology is one of the things that I believe sets K23 apart from other fantasy series. In most fantasy series,  progress is stuck in the middle ages or the industrial revolution at best. Then there are always the mysterious vanished civilizations whose technological progress was always greater.

The central idea of K23 is taking a high fantasy world and progressing it technologically so far into the future you can have a cyberpunkish dystopia sitting in the middle of it where many of the gargantuan towers are falling into disrepair, the government is dysfunctional, large portions of the population are living in poverty and giant autonomous corporations are running rampant. While Terrall has its very own vanished civilization, who will be formally introduced in Sandworm Rodeo (and expanded upon in a future novella) the one thing I will make very clear is that they were barely above the cavemen stage before they disappeared along with all life on their continent.

How I define technology in K23 is achieving the effects of magic (or even exceeding it) without harnessing divine energies (with one notable exception I’ll go into below).  Technology is developed through the science, or the empirical means through which the universe is observed and documented. Science is used by everyone, even the elven mages, because its one thing to use magic, its quite another to know how magic works( how the divine energies affect the physical).

There are multiple technologies at play in Terrall(Hominia specifically).  All are introduced within the first three novellas.

The “Cyberpunk” Technologies:

Silicone Tech: The standard cyberpunk array of giant buildings, computers, “the internet”, flying cars (aircraft) and cyborgs. Cybrix Technologies is the main developer of this technology in New Delta, though it’s used worldwide by everyone because of its versatility.

Biotech: Harnessing of living things via genetic engineering for a variety of uses. The main means by which this is achieved is via a machine called the gene writer which put Biogenomics on the map. A “four letter keyboard” attached to a console attached to a machine which writes genetic code that is implanted into a cell of anything you want. So is genetic engineering so easy anyone can do it? Not a chance – you need to have advanced degrees and years of training before you can use it successfully.  Mostly used in New Delta and the City of Sands.

Biotech also allows healing that exceeds what is capable via magic. Biotech allows for the healing of “natural diseases” ranging from cancer to infections.  Even elves go to the doctor.

The “Steampunk” Technologies:

In K23, I’ve divided up steampunk tech into two distinct technologies both used mainly in the Underground by dwarves and gnomes(biologically merging, but culturally distinct).

Steamworks: Hydraulics and steam engines. Developed by the dwarves for mining  and military use.

Clockworks: Brass gears, keys and springs used to make automatons and other devices. It was developed and is used by the gnomes. Clockwork can be infused with divine energy by tinkerers. Doing so makes automatons smart and clockwork prosthetics turn into flesh and bone.

As a side note, while Biotech can regenerate limbs and reattach it to you, hand magic cannot be used in the a biotech regenerated arm or hand. Only magical prosthetic allow a magic practitioner to use magic in a new limb.

Crystalline Tech: Used almost entirely by elves in Teolos. It is the use of crystals as building material and a few other specific use such as illumination. Crystalline tech is only used outside of Teolos for use in laser weapons (crystals magnify light into a deadly laser blast).

Terrall in Depth

Terrall in Depth: Magic Part 2

In Magic Part 1 I gave a general overview of magic including the types of magic, the deities connected to each type and who can use magic. In this post, I’ll go into a few types of magic and explain the rules that govern their usage.

Shamanism and divination: The main aspect of shamanism is divination, where a shaman can know anything he or she wants provided Ulax will give it to them and it exists in the present reality. By present reality I mean the shaman cannot see into the past or the future, only what exists now. For example, a shaman can read minds, but only what the subject is thinking about at that very moment. A shaman won’t know deeply guarded secrets, unless the subject is thinking about it at the very moment. Also, a shaman can only tell you where someone is, not where they’ve been or where they’re going to be.

Divination, unlike every other form of magic, requires active participation on the part of the deity. For every other type, the energy is there and if you can harness it you can do what you want with it.  But for divination, the deity can choose whether or not to provide what you want, tthough Ulax is pretty lax about giving it to his shamans in good standing. In Tiny Ads and Shaman Juice (which chronologically takes place after the Impending Darkness), it’s mentioned that  Eluna, K23’s main shaman character, cannot divine anything regarding her employer’s cases. That was a choice made by Ulax. Is it a cheap way to avoid plot holes? In some ways it is, but in-universe it makes sense.

New Delta has something called the Shaman Rule: Evidence gained via divination is not admissible in court, period. A shaman can’t even point you in the right direction without the case running into a trouble if it comes out. I’m not going to explain how or why Eluna works with the K23 Detectives (read the books) but in order for her to remain employed, losing some of her divination ability has to occur to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

As a side note, I mentioned last time that elves have to go through Illwyn to practice divination and are therefore less powerful. Elven “shamans,” called seers, cannot divine at will. Their divine connection only goes one way. With shamans, the connection goes both ways. Seers can only receive, shamans can ask and receive.

Healing: Healing magic can only heal physical injuries and poison. Basically, if it can be to done you by others, magic will heal it. But there are a few exceptions.

  • Magic can’t cure disease, since microbes are living too, and Illwyn won’t kill them simply because she can.
  • Healing can’t regenerate missing limbs and organs.
  • Healing magic can’t bring you back from the dead. Nothing can.
  • Magic can delay the effects of aging and extend life, but it’s not forever and only works if someone undergoes regular “treatments.”

So if you get shot, magic can heal you. But if you’ve got heart disease, go to a doctor. I’ll go more in depth when I get into technology in a later post, but this is one of the few places where science outperforms magic in every way.

Necromancy: Every living creature has a soul, from the smallest microbe to the largest Uthiran. When a creature dies, its soul goes away and the creature becomes lifeless. Therefore, the dead cannot rise on their own except with the help of a necromancer.

A necromancer places a part of their soul into a vessel and the vessel comes back to life. The vessel is under complete control of the necromancer and retains nothing from its previous life. The number of corpses an individual can raise depends on their skill. Souls are not infinite and a necromancer must have some of their own soul in their bodies to remain alive. Less adept necromancers need more soul per corpse to raise and control them and therefore can only raise a few. The most powerful are able to create rampaging hordes of the undead because they can control them with very little soul in each vessel. One only learns to do this with practice. Finally, if a necromancer dies with undead under their control, the undead go back to being dead.

Dead Periods demonstrates necromancy in action.

Summoning: Item summoning, which creates items out of Alpha’s divine energy, has a few rules attached to it:

  • You can only summon inorganic items. This means no food, no natural fibers and no living creatures.
  • Any item summoned must have a real-world template available. For example, early on in A Clear and Feathered Danger, Quintanelle summons on her mage robes. She can do this because her actual robe is kept in a sealed, temperature-controlled vault in Teolos. Her robes are made of an inorganic cotton substitute.
  • Summoned items have a lifespan of exactly 24 hours before they are dispersed.

Teleportation: Teleportation requires a portal, either made from stone or crystal. The further you need to teleport, the more mages you’ll need to open the portal and keep it open.  You also can’t teleport off-planet.

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