Still Alive!

My apologies for disappearing for a long time again: work has been hectic and I have been working on a variety of projects. Traditionally I publish something this time each year, but this year I just wasn’t able to complete a project in time: there are a couple of reasons for this (mostly related to my work), but I can at least publish a teaser for my next big project as well as fill in the gaps for what’s been going on between my last post and now.

To make a long story short, I am now working full time (previously I had been a student). Now that I have graduated and am teaching, I find myself with much less time to work on projects, though I still find the occasional scrap of time now and again.

Back in June and July, I discovered Open Legend. It’s a good game, and after my first session playtesting it I set to work sketching out a science fantasy setting, The Legacy of Eight. In October and November, when Open Legend had a Kickstarter, The Legacy of Eight was chosen as a backer’s choice for a setting to be developed as an official Open Legend setting.

The reason I mention this is two-fold: First, I haven’t just given up on writing altogether. While Street Rats isn’t seeing very much work right now (I still kick around theories for it, but the new Street Rats looks so different I’m hesitant to not just officially start over from scratch), I’ve got a couple of new projects going on.

First, I’m writing my first novella for publication, set in the universe of The Legacy of Eight. There will be a preview of the prologue below. I estimate that it will be finished in early January, go through a brief editing process, and then be self-published, but we’ll have to wait and see regarding that.

Second, I am working on a new game project. Entitled Othenar, it is already set up on a wiki on my new domain, Loreshapers.net, though it’s not yet fully publicly available. If you are interested, you can visit http://othenar.loreshapers.net to check out more details. It hasn’t seen a whole lot more work recently (because of how busy I’ve been), but it has been more or less completed.

Third, I have rebranded my game design efforts to Loreshapers. I haven’t yet done incorporation paperwork, but I plan to do so early in January before I return to work. This is the first big step in moving toward working on games on a more formal level.

That’s all stuff that will be coming down the pipeline. As I mentioned before, I’m working full time as a teacher, and it’s both fatiguing and eats up most of my waking hours, so my ability to work on side-projects has been spotty. With that said, here’s a preview of the novella, a prologue where we meet Exand, the story’s villain.

∅: Prologue

Exand stepped into the center of the cargo hold, feeling the pulse from the arcaneum as he reached out his mind. It would be a long, cold voyage through the stars for him, and he intended to spend the time in an enjoyable fashion.

Thumbing through the minds he could instance like a seer picking through a tarot deck, he spotted a person that piqued his interest. An Imperial Magus. One of the foremost progenies of the Empire, but not the Empire of his time. This one came from the Successor Empire, and she would be perfect. He wondered how long it would take her to realize she was not in control.

Trimming away the edges and replacing them with an illusion, he prepared the prisoner to dance for his entertainment. What lies would he tell the new copy? Something about an accident in the stasis pods? Too passé. He decided that he wouldn’t tell her anything at all, but instead wait to see what conclusion she came to. He pruned away the part where he ripped her soul from its body, remembering it with a twinge of pride. He had not been bested yet, and his collection grew with every stop.

He felt his body change, homogenous limbs becoming replications of bone and sinew, his body becoming flesh and organs. Of course, it was a facade, as much for his captives’ benefits as for the outside world, but it still made him feel the forbidden rush of experimentation. The Immortal Empire had sealed him away long ago, and its survivors would pay for its crimes.

The muscles began to move without his input, and he turned his mind to watch his captive. She stretched his arms out, flexing the muscles. He wondered if she had already realized that it was not her real body, but she seemed satisfied. The lights of a tentative spell flickered in sigils in the air, a warm-up for the teleportation magic that had almost let her get the drop on him. He smirked in his occlusion, observing her actions. Maybe he could learn something.

And like a flash she was off, exploring the ship’s crevices and trying to solve the mysteries of her arrival. He decided to give her some privacy, tuning out her thoughts. It was always more fun to take a guess and try to see what conclusion they would draw. Reading minds was vulgar. He shuddered a little as she moved at blistering speeds, occasionally teleporting past a bulkhead or window into the next room to speed her exploration.

Eventually, she found the bridge, and as she reached for the comms Exand intervened, pulling her hand away and forcing her back.

He spoke into her mind, “I can’t let you do that, as much as you’d like to.”

She replied quickly, almost without hesitation. “I figured as much.”

A twinge of panic came into him. How long had she known?

“What are you saying?”

“I’ve already sent the message. You won’t get away with this.”

He peeked into her mind, trying to call her bluff. She wasn’t lying.

“You know that when they destroy us, you’ll die too?”

“Is this really living?”

He paused. “I never caught your name.”

She said nothing, turning her attention to the arcane. Energy surged around Exand in brilliant flickering lights. He pulled the mind out, turning it to digital ash. He made a note on the original to do a little more pruning, and let himself sit lotus to contemplate his decision. The muscles and sinew faded away, the bone transforming back into a liquid matrix, the way he preferred his body to be.

Pride came before a fall. He had learned that the hard way. But what message could the Magus have sent? He pushed it from his mind, and began looking for a new playmate as he rose and found his way back to the cargo bay. Loneliness was even worse than risk. Besides, this next one looked interesting. He felt his body begin to take the form of muscle and sinew, and he put a grin on the forming face before handing it off to the captive.

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