Esotera, a world of light and fantasy

This is a description for a book I’m thinking of writing. Let me know what you think. 🙂

 

My name was Eve. I had two brothers. I had a mother and a father. But it’s so hard to remember, now, in this place. The memories I have are fading, sliding away into the oblivion that is the world of Esotera.

Esotera, a world of light and fantasy; at least, that’s what the developers claimed when it was released. There was so much hype around the game that it was already the highest-selling MMO in history before the first copy ever hit the shelves. The posters plastered all over everything showed massive cities of glowing crystal and stone, in every color of the rainbow, and multitudes of races, from elegant, pointed-eared elves smiling and waving in exuberant friendliness to colorful, gleeful gnomes capering in barely contained joy. Promises of adventure, glory, and wealth drew billions of views on the game’s website.

But Esotera isn’t what they all think it is. Esotera is alive. And it hungers.

 

Advertisements

Excerpt

(This is the opening for an upcoming book, in a pulp noir style.)

“N-o-o-o-o-o!”

The ear-piercing scream shattered the inky midnight blackness. A shadow moved along the strangely empty street. A dark-suited man followed closely, eerily silent considering the sodden conditions of the city. He paused, considering the scream, and the sudden silence afterward. Hearing nothing else, the man moved on, trailing the still-moving shadow deeper into the heart of the city.

Further into the city, the shadow became harder to follow. Streetlights flickered in the wake of the shadow’s passing, causing the mere mortal to fall further behind. The man, intent on his tracking, paid little attention to his surroundings. The buildings in this run-down portion of the city loomed close, leaning inward to form a deep valley of murkiness. Only when the sole light of the alley flickered and failed did the man’s natural instinct kick in. He sensed danger lurking, waiting for an unwary traveler.

Having lost his quarry, the man quickly turned and hastened away, tracing his steps back to the beginning, where he’d first caught the scent of the hunt. He slid something from his inside breast pocket, a sleek black cellphone. Dialing without looking, he connected with a throaty voice on the other end.

“So? Did you find its lair?”

“No,” the man sighed. “I nearly had it, but it seems as though the creature knew I was following. It twisted and turned through several streets, backtracking on itself a few times. Probably trying to confuse or lose me before it slunk away to rest.”

He imagined he could hear his associate nod through the phone. There was a tension there, stress that had been building throughout the weeks they’d worked together on this job. The creature would need to be found, and captured, soon, or they would both become targets themselves.

“Come back to the office,” the sultry voice commanded. “We both need some rest. We’ll pick it back up in the morning. You do remember where you lost it, right?”

“Yes, I remember,” he chuckled. “On my way. You should go ahead and go home. I’ll file a report when I get to the office, then head out myself. See you around ten tomorrow?”

“Ten, it is. Night, Sam.” The phone clicked, the call ended. The man, Sam, tucked the phone back into his pocket, mentally preparing his report for his employers. The remainder of the trip to his office was uneventful, no shrill screams or fleeing shadows to disturb his journey.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

The Tarred Goat’s takeover

(This story is a brief episode in the history of Tiat, a quarter-goblin thief, who is the main character in a book series I am currently writing.)

The enormously obese proprietor of the Tarred Goat, Garren, stalked across the small room. His cruelly twisted smile sent shivers of fear and disgust down the woman’s spine. She struggled to sit up on the bed, but the shackles binding her to the wall hindered her movement.

Garren chuckled as he watched the gnome struggle. His massive bulk shook with mirth. He delighted in watching his captive writhe and squirm. He paused with every step, prolonging her misery.

From the common room came the sounds of bawdy songs, the bard encouraging participation from the drunken travelers and villagers who crowded the bar. The silvery-haired gnome cried out in desperation, hoping against hope that tonight, finally, someone would come to her aid.

The woman’s small body was barely covered by the shredded remnants of her once-fine clothes. Her eyes, reddened by tears, stared wildly at the grotesque man stalking toward her. She begged, blubbering and crying, for her dignity. When that failed, as it always did, she turned to cursing his name, his family, his ability to perform. Her ire only drew more laughter from the beastly man.

Just as Garren reached the bed, the door of the room flew open. As swiftly as it was opened, it was closed. But not before an elegant elf in midnight clothing stepped through the portal, followed by a similarly clad bald woman.

The elf flashed a smile, twice as cruel as Garren’s own, the pearly teeth stark against his flawless lavender skin. The tall man bowed sardonically toward the obese innkeeper, then swept a more courtly bow to the cowering gnome on the bed.

The elf’s companion also grinned at the portly human. Her hands slid from inside her vest to reveal twin daggers that glinted viciously in the light of the room. She turned her vibrant yellow-green eyes to the gnome.

“You’s be ready, Dreysil,” the goblin asked the smaller woman, with a nod toward the confused innkeeper. When the gnome nodded, the bald gobliness threw both daggers, striking the obese human in each shoulder, severing the tendons that allowed his arms movement. The man dropped to his knees, his screams of pain lost in the raucous noise of the oblivious drunkards carousing in the common room.

“Interesting choice, little Tempest,” the elf drawled. “Perhaps you should assist our new-found friend, while I complete the task you’ve left for me? I should so hate to see our host collapse in pain before he realizes the extent of his dilemma.”

The goblin growled, hating the name he called her, but she hastened to finish her part of the rescue. She slipped across the now-bloody floor to the gnome, where she rapidly released the locked shackles.

Then together, the two women fled from the room, leaving Garren’s further torment to Dueros.

Upstairs, in the elf’s room, the gnome cleaned herself of weeks of torture and pain, while the goblin kept watch for her bondsmaster. When the blademaster finally returned to his room, he grinned evilly at his companion and their new friend.

“The matter is handled, Dreysil,” Dueros smirked. Then he turned to the bald woman, saying, “Perhaps a warm meal would be appropriate, Tiat? Our gnome friend most assuredly needs nourishment and warmth. See to it.”

Tiat scurried from the room, but stopped short on the other side of the door. Dimly, she heard the low murmur of the elf’s voice, then a muffled reply from the gnome. Gnashing her teeth together at being left out of Dueros’ deal, the goblin thief hurried to the kitchen for food.

 

The village was abuzz the next morning. News of a takeover of the village’s largest inn set Tiat’s goblin ears burning. But when she tried to ask Dueros, the crafty elf only chuckled and continued walking, his path leading the pair far from Kalentown.

The tyrant’s ball

The musicians played beautifully, their practiced pieces bouncing through the halls of the palace. Men in their velvet brocades and starchy linen blouses paraded through, guiding their ball-gowned women in the intricate steps of traditional dances. The full silk and taffeta skirts swished and swayed, sweeping lightly across the smooth-as-glass-floor.

The royals, a high prince and his lady, sat upon a dais, high above the crowd. They observed the festivities through jewel-encrusted binoculars, held to their eyes by servants in black crushed velvet. Murmured conversation passed between the two, decisions of life and death, the balance of the kingdom in question.

Flickering light wavered through the crowd of dancers, yellows and reds twisting and cavorting in time to the music. Painted, feathered, and jeweled mask-covered faces turned to the dais as the revelers passed, a quick bow or nod to acknowledge the royals sitting in judgement.

Beneath the plexiglass floors, four stories down, battles raged and fires burned. Cries of anguish and terror drifted into the silence of distance. Charred velvets and stinking silks drifted along in a heat-fueled vortex of air, ash flung far and wide.

With a nod, a wink, or wave of a hand, the high prince decided who lived and who flew. Soldiers moved, untouched in the crowds, to escort the lucky few. Men and women, unfit for the new order, pushed to join the battle, fodder for the usurper’s war.

In velvets and silks, cotton and taffeta, the unwilling soldiers in a tyrant’s crusade, died by the hundreds, their blood cementing his resolve, building his walls.