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Greetings, Bearers!

As promised, another installment from the Vein Omnibus has arrived!  This one tells the details of the scythe, the weapon of the Sect members.  Enjoy!

J. Dean

Scythe-The Scythe is the primary weapon of the Sect members, and is incorporated into both religious and combat-related activities. The scythe’s overall design consists of a handle attached to a two-edged blade that extends upward and forms a C-shape and generally carries a dull, grey hue, although the range in color and sheen ranges from a highly polished silver to an obsidian-like black.  Lengths and weights of each scythe also vary, as the weapons are customized for each Sect member by metalsmiths trained for and dedicated to the sole purpose of scythe-forging.

Scythe blades are composed of an alloy containing seventy eight percent qeridium, a common metal ore found in all of the Seven Worlds as well as the Meridian.  Beyond this, the details of scythe-forging are known by none other than the Sect’s metalsmiths, and the tight-knit group of weapon makers refuse to divulge the details of the process, as this prevents Orders and other rivals from learning how to fashion their own versions.

As a weapon, the scythe can be wielded in primarily two ways.  The first is in hand-weapon combat, as the scythe’s effective and durable double edged blade can cleave through the flesh and bone of any being with ease, and can also cut through some of the various types of wood used in the fashioning of Order weapons.   When combined with the hours of intense combat training undertaken by Sect members, this makes the scythe a formidable weapon, as Sect members are trained to not only cut with the scythe but also block and disarm opponents.

The second use of the scythe comes in the ability of the scythe wielder to deploy surges of energy by use of a small thumb stud located on the scythe’s handle.  Depressing the stud causes a buildup of energy stored in the handle’s hidden power cell, which manifests itself in the form of a swirling, turbulent mass of bluish-white light contained within the inside area of the scythe’s C-shaped blade.  When the wielder strikes the outer edge of the scythe’s curved blade against a solid surface such as a wall, a floor, or natural earth, the surge is released and rolls across the surface in a straight line, releasing occasional bolts of straying energy in random directions.  When a surge has rolled between six to fifteen paces away, it explodes into a haphazard cascade of energy bolts, rendering any being within reach of the bolts unconscious.

An adjustable dial occupies the bottom end of the handle, permitting the wielder to raise or lower the strength and range of the surges.  Low dial settings permit surges to be generated faster, but with a more limited range and less effectual results against enemies (At the lowest setting, a surge energy bolt will do little more than afflict a being with a nasty shock) Turning the dial higher yields stronger surges capable of inflicting more damage and rolling further away before generating larger and stronger explosions, but the drawbacks to such high settings include a longer period of time required for the surge to reach full power as well as the danger of overloading the scythe if the surge is not soon deployed, which carries the risk of knocking out (or even killing) the wielder.   This same risk applies to one who is struck with a charged scythe blade, and even a scythe charged at half power delivered in the form of a blow can have deadly results for both the opponent and the wielder.

In addition to these two primary uses in combat, scythes have been utilized in other combat-related ways.  The boat used by the Sect of Sarphyx contains a slot in its side, intended for a scythe blade to be inserted.  This essentially turns the boat’s underside into a conductor for the scythe’s surge, which repels attacking water-based creatures.  Scythes on occasion have also been thrown in order to impale enemies or creatures, often with success, but this is generally viewed as a last resort tactic and is discouraged by most Sect members.

If the blades of two scythes possessing unreleased charges come in contact with each other, the result is a Nullwave, a “thread” of energy bonded to both blades.  Any being coming into contact with a Nullwave is killed, as the Nullwave draws power from both scythe cells and in effect begins an overload process.  While Nullwaves have been used effectively in fights, they are considered very dangerous, so much so that most Sect elders entirely forbid their usage, as Nullwaves eventually cause overloaded power cells to explode, which in turn cause serious injury and even death, even when the scythes are dialed to low power settings.  In the early days of the Sect, Nullwaves were used by members to settle serious disputes, essentially through a game of chicken, in which a Nullwave was created and the first one to break the Nullwave (via striking the scythe against the earth in a manner similar to releasing a surge) was considered the loser.  These contests, however, were short-lived, as the early Sect leaders forbid any such use of the Nullwave among the brethren.

The scythes also function for the Sect members in a religious capacity.  For meditation and communion times, two or three Scythes are leaned against each other and dialed to a low energy setting.  When the Sect members begin their chants, the energy cells form a sort of “window” in midair, which permits the Sect members to see and commune with Balys-Crahly during their meditation, albeit in an occluded and imperfect manner.  The exact workings of the scythes in relation to this are unknown, and opinions even among the older and wiser Sect members vary as to why and how the scythes, without any external manipulation by the wielders, automatically respond with the window.  While it is recommended that three scythes be used for meditation and communion time, it is possible for Sect members to perform their religious ritual with only two scythes, and even one scythe used by a solitary Sect member can be utilized, although the windows and open communication are far weaker for any number fewer than three.  Conversely, the use of more than three is discouraged, as the interactions between four or more power cells actually serves to “overpower” the window, thus distorting communion and even shorting out the cells if anything more than the most minimum of power settings is used.

Each Sect member carries a customized scythe; as such, Sect members are ordered to guard their weapons with jealous care.  Loss of a weapon often incurs the displeasure of elder Sect members, and metalsmiths often consider it a personal affront, replacing the scythe with a great sense of bitter reluctance.  Spare scythes are rare, and usually do not carry power cells, as they are fashioned for newcomers to the Sect lodge in order to train them with the basics of the bladed weapon without the added danger of an energy surge.  Occasionally, a Bearer who arrives unarmed will be offered one of these as a weapon for personal defense.

Greetings, Bearers!

Here’s another little entry from the Vein Omnibus, this one dealing with a character found from time to time in the stories.  Read and enjoy!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Chancecaster-a person who deals in fortune-telling and magic, and/or one who indulges in small time street gambling, usually attempting to connect the two through games. Most spiritual chancecasters are recognized as phony charlatans, and as such are avoided by all but the most curious about unorthodox spiritual matters; however, on occasion a chancecaster can be found who claims to have a legitimate connection to spiritual things, and engages in actions classified as either truly connected to magic by the most ardent of believers, or as carefully executed parlor tricks by the most skeptical critics.

It is in gambling that most chancecasters make their living, and finding a chancecaster who dabbles in both magic and gambling is not uncommon, although a very small percentage of them (usually those most skilled in their area of concentration) practice only one or the other. Chancecasters who rely upon gambling for their living are very good at their sleight of hand tricks in street games, both in prepared games known by all as well as improvising contests on the spot (like, for example, challenging a passerby to gamble whether or not the chancecaster can successfully guess the passerby’s occupation or weight).

The ability of a chancecaster to earn a good income depends upon his/her skill in the chosen area(s) of work, as well as the opulence or poverty of a area in which they live. Many barely earn enough to survive, and a good number of beings use chancecasting as an activity to engage in while between jobs. Some, however, are skilled enough to maintain a comfortable but frugal lifestyle. A small number of chancecasters are proficient enough at their crafts to bring in a sizable income, thus permitting them to live as one of the upper members of their society.

It was through a chancecaster’s incantation that Clade Josso learned that his sister Trecil survived in the afterlife.

Greetings, Bearers!

In keeping with my New Year’s resolution to get more done, I’m prodding myself a bit through putting up some sections of the omnibus I’m putting together for the Vein series.  So, in keeping with this, I plan on putting up something at least once a month from the omnibus for you to enjoy.  Keep in mind that this isn’t quite a finished product; I’ll be doing some polishing and honing here and there, but what you’ll be getting is essentially correct.  So here is January’s entry for the omnibus: the dreaded creature known as the Cloud Specter, which many of you my readers have come to love!  As always, let me know what you think!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Cloud Specter-A Cloud Specter is a massive being enshrouded within a black cloud that occupies the skies of the Meridian.  When it desires to do so, the Cloud Specter can emerge from its billowing vehicle, dropping from the cloud in an inverted manner, so that anybody seeing it will see the creature standing upside down, with its feet planted in the black cloud that carries it.  The Cloud Specter has a body that is made from what has been described as “chiseled, swirling cloud,” as its body, though angular and defined, is alive with currents of cloud traveling across its surface, as if one were looking at cloud entrapped in a living statue of glass.  The creature’s face alone measures larger in length than the body of a full-grown Talusibat, devoid of a mouth, possessing a hint of something that should be a nose, and alive with a pair of blazing yellow rings that are set in the place of eyes.

It is unknown as to how many Cloud Specters occupy the Meridian, but the general consensus is that at least more than one exists, and some have speculated that as many as five may be roaming the Meridian heavens.  This uncertainty is due in part to the lack of information about the Specters given in any ancient texts, and even the Scrolls of the Sects say nothing about these heavenly giants prior to the War between the Sovereign and Balys-Crahly, which leads most to believe that the creatures either did not exist in their current form at the pre-war time, or that they acted in a way that was more recluse, thus the lack of attention paid to them.

 The Cloud Specters have prescribed circuits that they take through the Meridian, the most prominent and well-known of them being the one which traverses along the Meridian’s outermost area, not far from the Edge.  Lookouts in the perimeter cities of the Meridian have reported seeing the “boiling blackness” traveling along its regular route, independent of any contrary wind that might be pushing in a different direction.  

 A Cloud Specter is an extremely dangerous creature to encounter.  The visible presence of any Being on the ground is enough to cause the Specter to emerge from its cloud and pursue whatever or whoever may be on the earth below in an attempt to kill it by slamming it into the earth in the matter that a person might swat at an insect.  A Specter, once aroused by a Being’s presence, will chase down that being and attempt to kill him, but it should be noted that a Specter will not wander too far from its circuit and will break off any attack if the intended target escape’s the Specter’s “comfort zone.” This is not as easy as it may  sound, for it takes a Specter only one giant stride to cross a distance of more than fifty paces, and the Specter’s ability to move with such haste makes it almost impossible to outrun on foot.  Even on ha-bear or sand slither, escape is not guaranteed, and the intended target’s only chances for survival are to press on as fast as possible and hope that he is near enough to the edge of the Specter’s circuit that the creature will be dissuaded from giving chase, or to find a place to hide and hope that the Specter does not discover their location (as Clade was able to do).  In the city of Sarphyx, the aircraft pilots are discouraged from leaving the city limits, as their airships lack the ability to outrun any oncoming Specters, and also because the Specters seem to be drawn to any airborne object that is not a cloud.

 There is no known weapon capable of killing a Cloud Specter, although a surge delivered from a Sect scythe will cause a Specter visible discomfort and grant a momentary delay for anything in its path to try to escape.  All other weapons produce no effect; the Cloud Specter’s body simply absorbs the projectile or other attack and continues its own assault.  For this reason, travelers in the open Meridian are warned to not linger in one place for too long, especially if they are not familiar with the creature’s circuits.

Greetings, Bearers!

Great news: my short story collection, Alternate Endings, is almost done.  I’m finishing up a few touches to a couple of the stories, after which I’ll get them edited, slap a cover on them (more on that in a moment), and have them ready for ebook readers to peruse and enjoy! 

I’ve just finished up communication with the cover designer (Yes, a professional one who can do a whole lot better than me), and she got back to me saying she’ll be getting to work on it after a convention.  I’m hyped about this, and will have something for you to see as soon as it comes my way.

As for the Vein series, that’s coming along as well.  I’ve written a LOT on The Summoning of Kran and will be setting up the Vein Omnibus in the next couple of months, which is a glossary of the people, places, and things found in the world of the Vein.  One of the things I admired about writers like J.R.R. Tolkien was the care he took to keep continuity and depth in his stories and worlds, and I want to bring that same sort of “life” to all of you in my works.  It makes the stories more enjoyable, and it makes my work worthwhile.  So the Omnibus is on its way as well.

And of course I want to give a shout to those of you who have stepped into the world of the Vein for the first time in purchasing my books.  Thank you for doing so, and I hope you enjoy what you read.  Be sure to check out my free short stories on Smashwords.com and spread the word about them!

Okay, back to work.  Everybody look busy!

See you in the Vein

J. Dean