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The Tribes of Men (Part 3 of 3)

Welcome back blog readers! I won’t waste time with an intro this week, but let’s jump right into part three of the Tribe of Men. A special thanks again to all these great artists for helping to bring our world to life. And now the exciting conclusion to the Tribes of Men…

13) Shamite [sham-ite]
Shamites are a tribe of flashy white men who are the shrewdest of traders. They adorn rich golden embroidered clothing, troves of jewelry and sprinkle their blonde hair with gold dust. Their faces are heavily pierced and hung with gold chains. Shamites are known and at times despised for their honey smooth speech and well oiled grins. Shamites have risen to the highest classes of Doljinaar due to their ability to amass wealth and control the economy.

Shamites struggled in the Age of Tribes. Although their civilization grew quickly, they had little in the way of defenses. They desired to trade with their hostile neighbors. So when Shamites heard of the united kingdom of men they welcomed Doljinaarian rule with open arms. Shamites have since wormed their way into every market in the Doljinaarian economy and given rise to the Merchant Guild. It is said that a boy can’t even buy a loaf of bread off a street corner without somehow slipping a coin into the guild’s back pocket.
14) Terramothian [tare-a-moth-e-an]
Terramothians are a large clan of hardy blonde humans who inhabit the Plains of Terramoth, which was named after them, but they lead simple hard-working lives as farmers, herdsmen and craftsmen. Terramothians treasure good honest hard work and despise greed and corruption. They prefer to trade in their old capital at Feltmore rather than deal with the corruption of other major metropolises. A good number of Terramothians have grown poor working off the land due to increasing aristocratic land grabs, leading them to despise the very rich, city folk and outsiders in general.

Terramothians worked the land in the Plains of Terramoth during the Age of Tribes. Their lives consisted of driving off hostile neighbors, which they succeeded in doing for centuries since their work ethic also made them durable warriors. The Terramothian were eventually conquered by the Buurghast Empire until they were liberated by the forces of Doljinaar. The Terramothians have lived peacefully under Doljinaarian rule ever since, but they still don’t care for city life.
15) Tulestine [tul-es-teen]
Tulestines, or “Tuls” for short, are a clan of hardened hill-men. They are masters of arms and some orders such as the Tulestine Monks even shun weapons for martial arts. Tulestines have long black hair they braid into topknots to display their battle prowess. The phrase, “Never tussle with a Tul’,” is muttered in countless taverns across Doljinaar. This Tul’ is not traditionally dressed, but he is featured in the Adventure Series as the deadliest Mage Hunter alive.

Tulestines warred amongst their own tribes in the early Age of Tribes. Some Tulestine camps bred raiders who preyed on other towns, but many Tulestines built defenses and warded off invaders. The Tulestines united against the Buurghast Empire in the late Age of Tribes. The Buurghast far outnumbered the Tulestine tribes and wiped out three-fourths of the tribe, but the victories came at the cost of hundreds of thousands of Buurghast troops. The last of the Tulestines were able to hold off at Tulus until eventually the Buurghast Empire fell to Doljinaar. Of course, Doljinaarian aide did not curry Tulestine favor, so even Doljinaar itself was forced to lose a devastating number of men in taking Tulus. Tulestine numbers have begun to recover under Doljinaarian rule.

16) Valsharen [val-shar-an]
The Valsharen, or Riverfolk, are a clan of humans who live off the lakes and rivers of Doljinaar. Valsharen are relatively peaceful, but they can spear a would-be thief some forty feet right off the shore. The Riverfolk have strange blue hair they string with beads. They live in complex river towns both ashore and on houseboats. Valsharen are skilled fisherman, boatmen and run a barrel-running service that ferries goods downriver.

The Valsharen were able to avoid conflicts by taking to the waters in the early Age of Tribes. However, as their populations grew they were forced to build on the shores of lakes and rivers. The Valsharen were conquered by the Buurghast Empire and oppressed for decades. The Riverfolk were later liberated by the forces of Doljinaar and they have been faithful citizens ever since.

17) Vespuvian [ves-poo-v-an]
Vespuvians are a clan of seafaring humans that are more at home at sea. They have only a handful of port cites on the coast, but an untold number of other cities in the Vespuviar Depths. Vespuvians have long black hair they typically wear tied back into a ponytail. They are loyal to Doljinaar so long as the kingdom continues to keep their ports secure and the seas open. They’re employed as explorers, deep sea fishermen, whalers, poachers and a growing number have adopted lives of piracy.

Vespuvians accepted Doljinaarian rule without resistance. Vespuvians never saw much value in land anyway and Doljinaarian military strength meant they no longer had to guard their ports. Vespuvians have fallen under criticism for founding unsanctioned cities on deep sea isles. Vespuvians are often resented by Haradrik due to the naval aid they offered Doljinaar in the Icefarer Wars, which brought the Haradrik under Doljinaarian rule.
18) Wickovan [wik-cov-an]
The Wickovan, or Witchmen, are a clan of humans whose ways are steeped in the Black Arts. The Wickovan sprinkle themselves with ash and used to practice their rituals in Fogrim Forest. Though, the Wickovan never openly fought Doljinaar, the kingdom outlawed many Wickovan practices that included human sacrifices. As result, the Wickovan have scattered all over the kingdom hidden away in secret societies that continue their practice the occult.

The Wickovan hid away in Fogrim Forest in the Age of Tribes. Most other nations left them alone, fearing the Wickovan would put a curse on their heads. Doljinaar nearly forgot about the Witchmen, until they were forced investigate the disappearance of many people and livestock in the towns surrounding Fogrim Forest. Authorities later discovered Wickovan were making sacrifices to an ancient evil that granted them powers that some say even rivaled the High Mage Order. Doljinaar forbade Wickovan practices and hunted down practicing Wickovan, but rumors persist that Doljinaar never fully succeeded in putting a stop to their black arts.

Get a preview of more human tribes and fantastic races here:
http://www.chroniclesofcovent.com/races.html

New races will be revealed with every new book! Shade 2: Kingsblood updates coming soon!!!

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The Tribes of Men (Part 2 of 3)

Welcome back everyone! Here’s the second list of Covent’s lengthy tribes of men. We do not have art for every clan and some characters have broken a bid away from their cultures, but we’re very thankful for all the art we have blessed with thus far. Most authors don’t get to see their world come to life this early after release, so we are taking nothing for granted.

Let me start by throwing out a plug to the 2 new artists.

Last week we introduced Lona Kamakeeaina who made the Brigorian and the Mixed Blood concepts. This week we’re showing off his concept picture of a Grull, which made me laugh pretty hard the first time I laid eyes on it. Lona has been working on art for over 30 years and is currently attending the Art Institute.  His portfolio can be found here:
http://www.behance.net/lonaKamakeeaina
This week we are also introducing concept art from Néstor Cruz who is a Graphic Design Professor at Columbia College and worked as an art director and graphic artist for many years. He drew the slick Jinto concept designs below. He did a superb job of capturing our clan of circus performers turned coldhearted killers. His portfolio can be found here and he will be featured again next week.
http://nestorcruz.carbonmade.com/

And so, without further ado, the Tribes of Men continued…

7) Durnish [dur-nish]
Durnishmen are a tribe of sturdy, hard-working men.  Durnishmen have short cropped brown hair, tightly trimmed goatees and strange bronze pupils.  The Durnish take pride in all they do and are exceptional craftsmen and builders.  Much of Capital Doljinaar was built with Durnish stonework. Durnishmen are hard-workers and generally despise spongers and beggars.

The Durnish warred with the ancient Doljinn tribe over resources during the Age of Tribes. When the last male heir of Durnia died, High King Doljinn took the Durnian Queen to join the two peoples. The Durnish was the first tribe of men to join Doljinn’s dream of a united kingdom of men.  The hill lands of Old Durnia have been swallowed by the ever expanding captial of Doljinaar. Not a blade of grass remains, as it is all concrete, but the land is now known as the Durnian District of the capital.  The Durnish still call this district home and are very loyal to Doljinaar.

8) Eldorians [el-dor-e–ans]
Eldorians are known for being great thinkers and philosophers. Eldorian men shave their heads and wear wreaths over their shortly cut hair. Their primary passion is for learning and studying the natural world. They are the forefathers of modern thinking and scientific thought. They are valued for their keen minds and many have risen to the higher classes of Doljinaar. Eldorians are sometimes criticized for paganism and hold to a controversial view that the world rose from its own natural processes.

In early human history, when the tribes were violent and warmongering, the Eldorians lived in Stoneweaver’s Canyon. They were forced to constantly defend themselves from Brigorians and other aggressive tribes. Having, little desire of war, the Eldorians eventually retreated into the mountaintops of the Dragontooth Mountains. There they built a mountain peak cloud city called Cloudwithe. It become their city state and they booby trapped the mountain passes to stop raiders. As Doljinaar marched across the west, the Eldorians joined King Doljinn’s dream of a free world and they came under Doljinaar’s protection. Since then Cloudwithe has become a center of modern thinking and learning. Every Doljinn king spends time in Cloudwithe on the path to enlightenment.

9) Grull [grul]
Grulls are huge, hulking men with dirty black unkempt hair, yellow teeth, bad breath and foul body orders.  Grulls bathe so rarely that their hair mats with grease and clumps into dreadlocks.  Grulls are equally notorious for their rude manners and overly-intrusive personality that turns them into overgrown sponging vagabonds.  Some Grulls find employment as bodyguards, bouncers or other brute muscle.  Strangely, Grulls seem to be shrinking forcing them to find honest work.  A plague has broken out back in their old homelands which only spurs on their aimless wandering. See if you can find their lands on the super slick map: http://www.chroniclesofcovent.com/map.html

Grulls fought against Doljinaar in the tribal histories. They were feared for their size, but the Doljinn commander quickly outsmarted the Grull chieftains. The Grulls have never rebelled against Doljinaar because they are too dumb to remember they have been conquered. The Grull above is a concept drawing from the Chronicles of Covent video game project. The artist imagined this Grull found a nice suit of armor and put it on his back. Of course, it may have a slight odor because he forgot to take the dead guy out of it. He seems to have let a nasty fungus start growing on his right arm and birds seem to have mistaken him for a big dumb rock.
10) Haradrik (ha-rad-drik)
The Haradrik are a tall, proud Viking-like clan of ice seafarers who stand nearly seven feet tall.  They have long curly blonde hair, long beards and tough skin that adapts well to the cold.  Haradrik live along the southern coasts and brave the arctic sea known as the Haraglace. The Haradrik were conquered by Doljinaar in a bloody conflict known as the Icefarer Wars. Haradrik have taken part in numerous rebellions over the centuries which Doljinaar has put down.

The Haradrik have always been disgruntled living under Doljinaarian rule. A small number of Haradrik, like Captain Aaagren shown in this picture, have grown to accept Doljinaarian life, but most yearn to strike out across the Haraglace to the southern arctic continent where they can build a country of their own. Every year thousands of Haradrian pilgrims sail the treacherous Haraglace in an effort to build settlements. None of them have ever returned…

11) Jinto [gin-toe]
More commonly known as Gypsies, these acrobatic human nomads have made a life of wild living and theatrics.  Gypsies travel in large caravans from town to town where they perform in festivals, fairs and circuses.  Jinto have strange green hair and are short of stature, but astound other races through all manner of acrobatic feats.  Most Jinto have no appetite for war, except for a growing number among their people who secretly despise the passive Jinotoan lifestyle.  Many have joined the ranks of the Shaltearan Brotherhood and are training to become the deadliest of assassins.

In the Age of Tribes, Gypsies did far less travel and hid in Fogrim Forest from raiders. They moved their tents and wagons constantly throughout the forest and were quite deadly in ambushing invaders. The Jinto gladly accepted Doljinaarian rule and their culture evolved into the nomadic circus culture from which most gypsies earn a living. These two Jinto sketches were drawn by Néstor Cruz, another artist doing concept work for the Chronicles of Covent video game project. Both of these Jinto have left the circus lifestyle. One is an accomplished thief and the other a deadly assassin.

12) Mayahoon Indian [may-a-whoon]
The Mayahoon Indians are a fairly dark skinned, dark haired tribe of indians who live in Mizzle Drizzle Forest.  They are great hunters and gatherers who live in the higher elevations of the forest in sea grass huts. They are skilled woodsmen and watermen.  Though the Mayahoon are tough, the dwindling forest, the unpredictability of flood tides and the reckless magic of Trites have caused their numbers to dwindle. Some scholars fear the ancient tribes lies on the brink of extinction.

The Mayahoon have lived a pretty isolated existence in Mizzle Drizzle Forest for centuries.  Most outsiders did not chance the dense rainforest until after the discovery of the vast array of resources that could be had there.  Mizzlewood, rubber, herbs, medicines, furs and other new resources are being discovered every day. Mayahoon used to be hostile to trespassers, but have started to trade with outsiders. Mayahoon find employment as scouts, trackers and guides in their forest home due to the increasing interest in their forest home.

For more great Covent races, don’t forget to explore our website here:
www.chroniclesofcovent.com

 

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The Tribes of Men (Part 1 of 3)

The Tribes of Men (Part 1 of 3)

Over the years we’ve grown into a fan of having distinct human nationalities in fantasy literature. David Eddings first captured our imagination back in the 80s with a brilliantly cultured Elfless/Dwarfless fantasy world. However, during Covent’s early inception we were unwilling to let go of the more fantastical races, given the range of abilities and story-telling possibilities these races created. Granted, pointy-eared, beastly and darker races will always have a place in our world, but we began to realize the importance of pulling humans away from the plain normal vanilla formulas of blacks, whites, blondes, brunettes and so forth. Let me tell you a bit more about what I mean.

I really respected the cultural, skin tone and hair color differences in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. In Middle Earth a long blonde haired man is probably a Rider of Rohan or a dark-haired man is a soldier of Gondor fighting on the frontlines of Mordor. I would argue that Tolkien’s decision to embellish the histories of the human clans, gave each human nationality as much character as any of his more fantastical creatures such as Elves, Dwarves, Orcs or Ents. I believe Tolkien realized the importance of culture from the uniqueness of human nationalities and histories in the real world, which is what makes people so fascinating.

It was this kind of deep envisioning that inspired us to think as hard about humans as we did about any of our more fantastical races. This proved to only enhance our original vision of the size, scope and grandeur of mighty Doljinaar. Doljinaar is the united kingdom of men, its power unrivaled during the Age of Crowns. It is very much a Rome of our world and a melting pot for the light-skinned nations. Therefore, we often described the encountering of humans by other races as looking into a racial palette sprinkled with humans of every imaginable size, color and skin tone.

As result, Doljinaar has grown into a monstrously deep nation with as much politics and racial tensions as to be worthy of its comparison to the iconic Roman Empire. This is the first entry in a massive three part blog covering the Tribes of Men. I will cover only the Tribes of Men whom we have introduced in Shade One or will be introduced in Shade Two later this year. I will be showcasing artwork, not just from our illustrator Thom Scott, but some concept work made by other artists who are working on additional Chronicles of Covent projects.

And so without further ado Part One of the Tribes of Men:
1) Braznians [broz-nee-in]
Braznians, “Red Bloods” or “Bloodriders” as they were once feared all over the Plains of Terramoth were one a race of bloodthirsty raiders. Braznians are natural redheads with fiery thrill-seeking personalities. They have a reputation for laughing in the face of danger and for their reckless “Red Blood” behavior. Braznians thrived on pillaging cities in the early histories.

Their city state, Brazelhorn, eventually fell at the hands of Doljinaar. Although this defeat stung their pride, they quickly settled under Doljinaarian rule. They flocked to new battlefields and fresh hotbeds of danger where they continue to live short, reckless but adventure-filled lives. Their exodus from Brazelhorn was so complete that their city was abandoned to ruin.
2) Brigorians [bri-gore-e-an]
Brigorians are a rebellious clan of dark-haired, bearded and hairy barbarians. Brigorians dominated
Karus Forest for most of early human history. Primeval Brigorians emerged from the vast forest to raid towns and slip back into their home forest. They were feared for their brutality, for the razing and complete massacring of settlements and in many cases cannibalism. Doljinaar was forced to nearly wipe them out, putting down Brigorian women and children to what they thought was the last child, but Karus Forest proved too large. Small pockets of Brigorians survived.

Doljinaarian histories are stained with Brigorian uprisings, but as night mortals began to infiltrate Karus Forest over the centuries, Brigorians were forced to defend their own forests. Small waning tribes still inhabit Karus Forest, but increasing numbers of Brigorians have wandered out and become scoundrels in Doljinaar seeing at long last night mortals as the true enemy of mankind.

3) Derve [derve]
The Derves once ruled the great kingdom of Durjezstan, which now lies buried in the Great Waste. It is said that the city and its vast riches still lay lost under the ever blowing sands. Derves are light-brown skinned, similar to Arabs and are very noble and hardworking. They mourn the loss of their lost kingdom and live displaced lives as refugees in northern Doljinaar.

Most Derves have been forced into servitude due to their current low economic status, but some sects have built small societies who live in caves off the Great Waste. They find employment as scouts and treasure hunters in the Great Waste, but many Derves have given up all hope of ever returning to their ancestral homeland and have been forced to begrudgingly accept Doljinaarian life.

4) Doljinn [dole-jin] (mixed blood)
A mixed blood Doljinn is a fairly loose term in Doljinaar. It can be used to describe any human born of mixed nationality. A mixed blood does not have to be related to the original Doljinn tribe to be called Doljinn. Their skin, hair and eye color varies and even their size can range from tribe to tribe. In fact, mixed bloods are becoming so common a sight in Doljinaar that people have started to call them Doljinns. Other races believe that humans interbreed like horses.

Gordwin, the gruff war veteran owner of The Dragon’s Den Inn & Tavern in Jile is a mixed blood. If you asked him about his ancestry he would probably tell you he’s a cross between an Eldorian, a Grull and maybe a really drunk Durnishman because “ale is a lot thicker than blood” as he likes to say.

5) Doljinn [dole-jin] (pure blood)
Pureblooded Doljinns, or Purebloods for short, are becoming a rare sight in Doljinaar. The original dark-haired blue-eyed clan of men that united the human tribes is slowly being bred out of existence, though their dreams of a free world remain. High King Doljinn’s dream of a united kingdom of men spread from his clan to all men of the West and forged the glorious empire of Doljinaar.

The Doljinaarian bloodlines have grown so intermixed that merely being a Pureblood places them in the higher classes. Purebloods usually dedicate themselves to politics or military service. They comprise the most powerful class in Capital Doljinaar, second only to the line of kings and at times the rich and meddlesome Shamites.

6) Doljinn [dole-jin] (thane)
The blood of Doljinaar’s royal line is considered the blood of the purist kind. It was believed that High King Doljinn was born a god incarnate due to the ethereal glowing white eyes which has become the mark of the royal line. Doljinn was given the name of his tribe, the Doljinns, at birth when they recognized he was no ordinary child. High King Doljinn went on to live an extraordinary life leading his people to a dream of a united world of men that put an end to the wars among the human tribes and forged the glorious empire of mighty Doljinaar.

People have come to call Doljinn’s line the Thanes. The Thanes also live up to a thousand years and are believed to ascend into godhood when they die. The Thanes have for the most part maintained their rule in Doljinaar for over several millennia. Thanedom has only been threatened one or two times by usurpers, but few non-Thanes ever sat on Doljinaar’s throne for long. The noteworthy kings and at times queens are worshiped as gods and goddesses and great monuments and temples have been erected in their honor. King Magnus is a Thane and the current reigning king of Doljinaar.

Get a preview of more human tribes and fantastic races here:
http://www.chroniclesofcovent.com/races.html

New races will be revealed with every new book! Shade 2: Kingsblood updates coming soon!!!

 

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The Who’s Who on Shade 2: Part Two

Welcome back to the second part of the skinny on Shade 2.  This week we’ll dissect more of Shade’s allies and more importantly his enemies such as his arch nemesis in Shade 2: Kingsblood.

Here we have a mass scale assassination attempt painted in glorious display which includes two distinct and powerful factions of Covent. In the blue trunks, weighing in at 2,000,000,000 combined pounds we have the forces of mighty Doljinaar!  Ok, so maybe not all two billion pounds of the Doljinn war machine is represented in this picture or else it wouldn’t be much of a fight. The kingdom of Dolijnaar encompasses all of the western continent, so Doljinn guards are understandably spread across the empire.  This is but a tattered remnant of the guards present at the attempt on the king’s life.

It may be a small detail, but I was very excited at the representation of the Doljinnarian boys in blue painted in this picture. It’s far more inspiring to witness the guards’ noble desperate rally to save their king. They’re charging the enemy, they’re rushing to the king’s side and their infamous blue banner is blowing proudly in the wind. I couldn’t be happier. This portrait captures the true fighting heart of Doljinaar, the fighting spirit that conquered half the civilized world. It paints a stark contrast to the corrupt and lazy guards posted in Shade’s backwater outpost in Jile.  Ah here are those scoundrels, still passing around a bottle of brandy and warming themselves around the fire.

Good for nothing lazy Jile guards…sheesh!!!

And in the red corner, weighing in at a combined weight of 80,000 pounds is the Shaltearan Brotherhood! The Shaltearan Brotherhood is the largest and most powerful assassin’s guild in all Doljinaar. Known for its willingness to recruit anyone even women and children, the Shaltearan Brotherhood is widely feared for its ability to meld into everyday society. Shaltearan can strike from behind any face, even the most unsuspecting faces. They can be anyone, strike from anywhere…

The Shaltearan cloaked in red battle-gear in this picture are the Shaltearan elite! They live by a grisly code of murder called the Assassin’s Codex. For every kill they tattoo their flesh with another symbol.  For every one hundred symbols they ascend a rank in the guild. Under those red ninja-like uniforms are entire bodies covered in Shaltearan symbols. The Shaltearan Brotherhood employs a wide array of exotic weaponry, kill tactics and smoke screens. Shade has really stirred up a bloody hornet’s nest by attempting to foil a Shaltearan blood contract in Shade 2.

But we’re not done yet! Among the Shaltearan ranks lurks one assassin feared even by the head of the guild. His blades have become synonymous with death, his aura compared to a ghost. He is a young and ambitious assassin with his eyes set on taking Shade’s place at the top of the food chain. He has fashioned himself a set of weapons the world has never seen.
Introducing the world’s very first set of Hand Sickles! Shade’s opponent had these daggers custom crafted to resemble the shape of sickles and further enhance his growing deathly legend. Worse, he has mastered the use of these blades and become one of the most unorthodox killers in the world. And this is only the beginning of the list of his horrible talents…

Raithe is Shade’s worst nightmare. In addition to Raithe’s already imposing array of combat skills, he incorporates equally unorthodox magic into his attacks. Raithe is not called a ghost without good reason. He can float through the air, pass through solid walls, cause his body to dematerialize to avoid hits. Shade has never faced an opponent quite like Raithe…

My reader’s group is already saying that Shade’s duel with Raithe is the best back and forth duel we have ever written…

Shade 2: Kingsblood will be released late this year or early 2013.  Stay tuned:
http://www.chroniclesofcovent.com/shade2.html

Or catch up on old reading!  Shade 1: Waiting Game is available now:
http://www.chroniclesofcovent.com/shade.html

 

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The Who’s Who on Shade 2—Part One

Thanks everyone for the positive feedback on the cover of Shade 2: Kingsblood! We are very excited to be following up with the second installment of the Shade Series. Last week we simply pulled back the curtain and unveiled the cover. This week we thought we’d run a magnifying glass over the cover and give you the who’s who on Shade 2: Kingsblood.

We’ll start with the most out of place character on the cover: Jago.

Jago is a Dragol or a rat-man as they are sometimes called. Dragols are a cross-breed of unknown racial origins, just called rat-men for their humanoid appearance. Dragols are known for being one of Covent’s uglier races and have an insatiable appetite for garbage.  Hunted down for years, Dragols have proved to be extreme survivors and are slowly gaining a loose acceptance in Doljinaar.

Jago is from Jile, Shade’s town. He’s an orphan taken in by the kindhearted owner of The Pig’s Trough eat house in Jile.  He works as a dish boy, but has a mischievous streak for troublemaking and picking Starlilies from the Ice Marshes to sell to drug-dealers. Dragols are extremely agile and stealthy and his skills enable him to become an unwanted tagalong in Shade 2.

We were very happy with this concept picture, though we asked that the artist reshape the skull a bit to make it look more ratlike than catlike.  As you can see Thom Scott happily obliged.

Now we’ll move onto Aagren, captain of the Majesterium.
Aaagren is a Haradrik by blood, a clan of ice Vikings who live off the southern coasts of Doljinaar which lies on the shores of the arctic ocean known as the Haraglace. Haradrik are divided into two camps: Loyalists and Icefarers. Icefarers are known for rebellion and their stubborn wills in their efforts to sail south and colonize the frozen southern continent. They are trying to make a new country of their own, but most families don’t survive the harsh winters.  Loyalists have accepted life under Doljinaarian rule.  Aaagren is a Loyalist.

Aaagren is captain of the Majesterium, which is the royal guard of the king. He never leaves the king’s side.  Aaagren carries a two-handed battleaxe in one hand and a tower shield in the other. In this scene Aaagen has lost his axe, the wounded king leans on his shoulder and he waves his shield in a desperate last ditch effort to save the king.

Finally, let’s finish up with King Magnus…King Magnus is close to 1,000 years old. Unlike mere common humans, the eyes of the royal line of Doljinaar glow a solid white. The combination of their abnormally long lifespan and their ethereal gaze feed the perception that they are in fact gods in flesh. It is believed that the Doljinn kings ascend into godhood at death. The most memorable kings are worshiped as gods, as either a deity who stands for good or for evil, depending on the manner of their rule.

King Magnus has been a fair and wise king. He has had a long and hard rule. He has managed to keep a relative peace in Doljinaar, unlike many of the past Doljinn kings. He will be remembered well, but has been forced to spend much time on the battlefronts, stemming the tide of threats from entering the kingdom. His most controversial decision was the abolishment of magic, but there are many in Doljinaar who supported the bold decree. Doljinaarian history is filled with devastating magic wars that left entire towns leveled and left wounds upon the lands that have never fully healed. Magic is greatly feared.

Stay tuned for next week, when he dive into the other characters on the cover including the Shaltearan Brotherhood and Shade’s cocky nemesis in Shade 2: Kingsblood.

Need to get caught up on reading?  You can always start with Shade 1: Waiting Game:
http://www.chroniclesofcovent.com/shade.html

 

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Shade 2 Book Cover Reveal…

Greetings blog readers! Sorry I haven’t had a lot of time to blog lately. I’ve been traveling far and wide, but to make it up to you I’ve got some very exciting artwork to reveal. Our artist, Thom Scott, has been hard at work on the artwork for the cover to Shade 2: Kingsblood! Shade 2 reveals a cast of reoccurring characters both to the Shade Series and the larger Chronicles of Covent brand itself.

I’m very excited about the release of Shade 2, even more so than Shade 1 because the book takes our anti-hero to new levels of story-telling. Shade finally finds the trial he is looking for, but he is forced to play the unlikely role of hero. This allowed us to explore new dimensions of his character that just weren’t possible in Shade 1, which was aimed at merely establishing our cold confident killer.

And so without further ado, allow me to reveal the cover to Shade 2!

I won’t say too much this week about the story and its characters, but look for a more in depth blog next week that dives into far more detail. To whet your appetites, let me entice you with the book description and the FULL COLOR COVER WRAP down below that shows TWICE the scene!

Doljinaar.  City of Kings. A contract has been signed in the shadows of the great capital, soon to be sealed in the blood of kings. The Shaltearan Brotherhood moves to make good on this contract. It has unleashed its largest force of elite assassins in history.

Shade is sent to foil the assassination and waylay the conspirators behind the plot, but to do so he must venture deep into the bustling heart of Capital Doljinaar. A city the size of ten bustling metropolises walled together side by side. Thousands of eyes lurk at every corner, none trusting of Dark Elves.

Shade must take the deepest, darkest roads to reach the palace secretly and when he finally reaches the palace he must face off against the Shaltearan elite in an ultimate showdown. Among their number awaits a worthy adversary who has been dying to meet him. A ghost who moves silently among men…

 

Shade 2 will be out late this year or early next year (I told my loving wife I wouldn’t release our next book so close to Christmas again). Watch our website and the blog for more announcements and updates. We will be updating the Chronicles of Covent homepage with new artwork, new character, creatures and place reveals over the next 6 months. It’s going to be a very exciting time for the Chronicles of Covent!
http://www.chroniclesofcovent.com/shade2.html

Comments and feedback on the cover are welcome on the blog or by emailing me direct at jlficks@chroniclesofcovent.com.  We still have plenty of time to tweak the cover this time around, so any constructive feedback would be much appreciated!


 

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When the Dead Won’t Stay Dead…

Some people have been asking what does Shade fear? Given that he is the world’s most legendary assassin, he seems at many times capable of overcoming anything in Shade One. However, he is not above fear. In the scene above, a black and white illustration included in Chapter Four, we see Shade knocked on his rump. The scene paints a stark contrast to his ordinarily cocky self. A towering undead Minotaur raises his mallet over him. The Minotaur stands close to ten feet tall. Its nostrils spew shoots of steam as it charges trampling everything in its path, an untiring mass of steaming rage. Shade is surrounded by undead, hopelessly cut off and alone. The undead stagger closer, salivating mouths hungering for the taste of his warm flesh.

Shade’s passage through the Ruins of Garrlohan in Shade One is actually one of the most telling chapters of the entire book about Shade’s deepest, darkest fears He fears the mysterious otherworldly forces of Covent. He fears powers beyond his understanding or more so he fears powers that befuddle his comprehension and render him powerless. You see Shade is a practically minded Dark Elf. His thinking is very grounded in the natural world. As he said to the Shamite in Chapter One of Shade Two, “Slide an acute piece of metal into a vital organ and the victim will die quick and without much fuss.” The assassin makes a living sending people to grave and so to see undead crawling back from the grave is a grim reversal of the natural order of things. Shade believes in no god, but here dozens of death’s horrible heralds speak of a supernatural world beyond his understanding and that deep down scares him more than anything.

Worse, the way to kill undead is largely unknown at this time in Covent. There are no magical blades, no holy weapons to put them down. Clerics, and those who profess the silver robes, have lost the art of healing. All a mortal can do is run. Shade is forced to cripple them in the Ruins of Garllohan, but even then he barely escapes with his life. The physical bodies of zombies, ghouls, skeletons or various other undead can be maimed by physical blows, but you will never kill their restless spirits. You cut off their legs and they’ll crawl after you. You cut off their hands and the fingers will crawl after you. You cut off their heads and the headless body will still stalk you. You crush their bones into powder and they’ll body jump into a fresh corpse reanimating new nightmares. And if they have no physical body, what are you supposed to do with the likes of a ghost, but run?

I’m particularly excited about some of our new twisted forms of undead, the first of which we shall introduce in Shade Two. There is one such entity Shade fears in all the Ice Marshes…the Ooelm. The Ooelm, pronounced just like Doelm, but without the “d” is an undead monster that defies Shade’s understanding. The Ooelm wanders the south marshes feasting on the brains of any living creature unfortunate enough to fall into its hands. The Ooelm is one of the many abominations of ancient Gorgloth who wander the lands feeding off their restless hunger. Many saw these abominations are worse than undead, because they come out of their haunts and ruins of Covent. They are drawn to dark places of historic tragedy and magic, but have even been known to wander into towns.

You can think of the Ooelm has a monstrous hunchbacked Frankenstein, though its spirit remains a mystery. Its body has been warped and twisted, which can barely contain the monstrous spirit that has crawled up inside a once withering corpse. Shade can sense this spirit behind the Ooelm’s massive warped form, but he is unsure what to make of it. The Ooelm’s mind is numb, greatly dumbed down, as if its unending hunger has also consumed a far greater identity. Its mind has been reduced to an animalistic instinct to feed, rivaling that of any other undead, but its powers are frightening to behold.

I’ve included an excerpt from Shade Two for the blog, which includes the second half of Chapter Three of Shade Two. Shade has headed south through the Ice Marshes on his way to Doljinaar, City of Kings. Given he has to foil another assassination attempt, he has chanced the Mudline to save time. The Mudline is an old lost road that had been, up until now, swallowed by the watery southern swamps. The waters had appeared low on Shade’s departure, but he has been trapped in a floodplain close to the Ruins of Azranool. He is being stalked…


An Excerpt from Chapter Three:
Never Trust the Mudline

A horrible horselike squeal pierced the air.

Shade snapped back around. And then he saw it. An all too familiar monstrous form towered over the rise where he had left his horse.

Shade held his breath. His horse squirmed and flailed wildly like a small rodent in the monster’s oafish hands. The Ooelm. The fat twenty-foot monster stared back at him with solid black eyeballs. It seemed to remember him. He could see the huge tree-sized club it dragged behind by its nearly useless left arm. The Ooelm stared at the Dark Elf with a festering hatred. Shade had severed several exposed ligaments on the monster’s left arm on their last chance encounter. He had rendered that arm useless though he could see that the monster still managed to grip its club.

The Ooelm shrugged its huge shoulder and swung its dead arm around its body. The club hit the ground with a devastating force.

The earth shook.

The Ooelm seemed to have waited for the moment Shade turned around. The monster stared at him and lifted his once proud steed up to its flabby black lips. It roared, a noxious green mist sprayed the air. The horse winnowed in terror, its legs flailing wildly. The animal eyed the Ooelm’s immense wriggling maw as its jaws opened. The horses took one blast of the ghoulish breath and went suddenly limp.

“NO!” Shade shouted. He sprinted forward in a vain attempt to save his horse. He would be stranded without it and the Ooelm could surely run him down.

The Ooelm moved slowly, as if baiting the Dark Elf.

The horse’s head hung limply as the monster slowly lowered it into its huge writhing pallet.

Shade cursed and headed back up the rise. He drew his blades, but his mind leafed through a list of reckless battle plans, all of which spelled suicide. His breaths puffed out in desperate huffs. He could smell the Ooelm’s putrefying stench as he drew near. He could feel the Ooelm’s chilling air filling his veins with needlelike fear. His limbs iced over and his body trembled uncontrollably. His joints stiffened and he was suddenly paralyzed with dread. He stared up and up at his towering foe.

The Ooelm stood upright on two legs, but his entire body was covered in mud, muck and bits of dead plant matter. The twigs and dead weeds that stuck out of the layers of grime strangely resembled hair. Small patches of dead white skin showed bleakly, marred by grotesque malformed contusions and dead boils. The Ooelm resembled some manner of mutant Gorum, but it more than quadrupled their impressive size. It was a jumbled mass of bones, muscles, organs and dead tissues, like a dragon had crawled inside a Gorum corpse and wore him like a cloak.

Shade did not understand by what powers such monsters existed. The Dwarves claimed long ago that Ooelms were abominations birthed by the black arts of ancient Gorgloth. They reported having problems with Ooelms desecrating their catacombs and feeding on the brains of the dead. The name Ooelm suggested that these rumors held a grain of truth, but he had never heard of a tale of an Ooelm as large as this one.

The assassin could do nothing, but stare in wide-eyed horror.

The Ooelm’s leech black lips closed around the horse’s head. Shade heard a horrible sucking noise. The horse’s legs writhed and went suddenly limp. The animal’s limp head popped out of the Ooelm’s horrible mouth. The monster threw the horse’s body at Shade.

The assassin rolled to the side. The horse’s weighty body hit the mud and flopped like a giant dead fish. It nearly landed on him. He had to make two more evasive rolls to completely avoid the comatose projectile. He lost a dagger. The horse’s corpse finally came to a rest.

Shade rolled right into the horse’s rib cage. He hit the animal’s chest hard and stood up in horror. He stared at his mount’s lifeless face. The horse’s eyes and brains had been sucked out through its eye sockets. The assassin fell on his bottom and scrambled backward, reeling in shock and revulsion. He could see the flecks of brain matter oozing out of the horse’s snout. Worms, maggots and beetles crawled out of the animal’s lifeless head, as if swarms of saprobes had eaten his mount from the inside out into a rapid decay.

A tree-sized object rose overhead

Shade snapped out of his shock.

The Ooelm gripped its enormous dead arm and raised the club.

The assassin dove forward.

The Ooelm brought its club down.

Shade closed his eyes. He could only pray he dove far enough.

Thud!

The earth shook and mud splattered, but Shade could still feel his legs. He scrambled to his feet. He saw the Ooelm lift its giant club again. The nimble assassin darted through the monster’s fat legs. He looked desperately for a place to hide, but bogs cut him off in every direction. The only way out was through the Muckhog path and the only way back to that path lay through the Ooelm.

Shade spun around and gaped up the Ooelm’s huge knobby back.

The Ooelm started to turn around, but it was so immense it turned slowly.

The assassin retrieved another blade. He dashed towards the Ooelm and leapt at its huge calf. He drove his right dagger deep into the Ooelm’s giant muscle and held on. The stab made a shucking noise, but broke into dust as easily as a husk. Worms and maggots came spilling out of the hole in the monster’s dusty leg. Shade nearly slipped off. He jammed his left dagger in and pulled himself up. The assassin felt cold slimy wriggling bodies hit his lips. Shade turned his face to the side and spit. More worms!

The Ooelm howled in pain. It loosed a horrible sound that resembled the tortured song of a dying whale. The wretched sound, the unbearable stench caused insects and leeches to come writhing out of the mud.

Shade ground his teeth and regained his concentration. He pulled his right dagger out and thrust it into the Ooelm’s back thigh. And then his left. He scaled the monster’ spine rippled back ice pick style.

More worms and maggots poured of the Ooelm. The monster dropped its club. It yowled in rage and made grabs for the nimble assassin, but he evaded them. He nearly reached the creature’s fiendish shoulder. His eyes remained focused on his goal. The Ooelm’s dead arm hung by a signal ligament. If he could finish what he had started months back, perhaps the putrid monster would retreat.

The Ooelm flailed.

Shade’s right dagger flew from his hand. He grabbed his parrying dagger with both hands and held on for dear life. He glanced down. He dangled thirteen feet up in the air. Almost there. Just another foot.

The Ooelm made another grab for him.

He quickly pulled himself upward and grabbed a protruding bone sticking out of the monster’s dead flesh. He pulled himself up on its broad shoulder. He reached the ligament. The Ooelm tried to shake him off, but he fell to his knees to stabilize his balance. He raised his dagger up prepared to cut the arm clean off.

Shade felt gigantic fingers close around his waist. The assassin tried to slip away, but the Ooelm caught him fast in its clasp. He wanted to stab the monster, but his arms were pinned to his waist. He felt like a little ragdoll as he was pulled away from his target.

The Ooelm brought him back around its front. The monster glared at him, its horribly white skin drooped off its warped skull, giving it an expression of pure furious, freakish horror.

Shade trembled. For the first time since his youth, he had the sudden overwhelming urge to lose his bladder. He felt reduced, reduced to that once terrified boy time had widdled away.

The Ooelm raised him and stared straight into his terror-filled eyes. He stared back into those deathly black eyeballs. It was like staring into a vacant hungering abyss, devoid of soul or conscience. He felt like his spirit suddenly froze solid, but the hatred and envy in those eyes was unnerving. Lathers of drool oozed out of the Ooelm’s black lips. It dribbled down its huge sagging cheeks and oozed into pools of saliva on its hill-sized potbelly. The Ooelm brought him close to its huge horrible face. Its terrible lips parted.

Shade closed his eyes and meditated on a sacred discipline of the Kuula. A stomach-turning blast of death and decay blew back his hair. His nostrils burned, but his discipline saved him from passing out. The stench was like being sealed off in an airtight Dwarven tomb, the dead freshly rotting. He nearly lost consciousness.

The Ooelm loosened its grasp. Shade slide down, but the Ooelm caught him by the heel.

The assassin cursed himself for the missed opportunity. He opened his eyes just as he was dangled over the monster’s huge gaping maw.

The Dark Elf gaped into the untold horrors that stirred within. The Ooelm’s mouth was toothless, tongueless and yet it writhed and moved like a sea of squirming tissues. Not tissues he realized, but a wriggling bed of maggots, worms and carrion beetles. He was mere seconds away from being dropped into that horrible writhing maw which would no doubt devour him from the inside out like his poor horse.

Shade stole a glance at the monster’s weak point. The bad ligament lay eight feet away. He gripped the dagger in his hand. He had only one shot at this. He struggled to focus on his target. The blood rushed to his head as he dangled upsidedown. He felt disoriented. The world spun around in his head. He tried to focus on the one ligament that looked like three, no six.

The Ooelm dropped him.

Shade threw the dagger as he fell downward. It whisked through the air. The world spun around and around, but then he heard the ligament snap.

The Ooelm’s arm fell clean off. The monster roared. Saprobes spewed everywhere. The Ooelm leered to the side and unwittingly moved Shade.

Shade slipped from its fingers. He landed hard in the mud, but allowed his knees to absorb the impact. It took the wind out of him, but he scrambled upward. He stared up at the Ooelm who clutched its shoulder and was still roaring with a terrible unclouded rage. The assassin had no time to catch his breath. He turned and ran.

The Ooelm beat its huge fists against the mud.

Shade’s lungs screamed in protest, but he pushed on. He darted for the Muckhog path. His lungs felt sore, as if every breath dragged across his ribs, but he refused to quit. He reached the reeds and stumbled through. He could hear the Ooelm’s huge footsteps behind him.

Boom. Boom. Boom.

The assassin glanced back behind him.

The Ooelm charged after him, wielding not its club, but its severed arm. The enraged monster’s frothing spittle sprayed the air. The Ooelm was only thirty paces back, just six monstrous strides away.

He heard even more monstrous footsteps.

Boom. Boom. Boom. The ground shook.

He doubled his pace.

Shade felt the Ooelm’s scalding ice breath blow down the back of his hood. He ducked. The arm whiffed overhead just as he sighted the gully. He kept his eyes focused on the log, if he could only get across… He veered to the side on pure instinct.

The Ooelm slammed the arm down right next to him. He heard bones snap and crack, but it missed him by but hair.

Shade reached the log at last. He sprinted across it and spun around. He stared up at his awesome foe.

The Ooelm charged forward. Its huge foot stepped onto the log. Snap! The monster plunged into the gully. It hit the water with a giant splash.

Shade saw the Ooelm go under, but the muddy cliffsides were not far off the ground. The monster sprung from the water and made one last grab for him. The Ooelm was too far away. The muddy banks crumbled under its huge weight and it slipped back under. The Ooelm tried again and again, but the mud could not handle its mass. The Ooelm slid back into the water and then the waters went finally still. Shade fled down the path, a crack of a smile dawning on his cheeks. He owed those pigs a big sloppy wet kiss.

 

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