Shadowrun - Earthdawn - Lliferock

BOOK: Shadowrun - Earthdawn - Lliferock
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LIFEROCK

A Lost Novel of Earthdawn


JAK KOKE

Seattle, Washington

Also by Jak Koke:

Dead Air

The Dragon Heart Saga

Stranger Souls

Clockwork Asylum

Beyond the Pale

The Terminus Experiment (with Jonathan Bond) 

Copyright © 2003 by Jak Koke Design by Karawynn Long

Cover painting by Crystal Larson Earthdawn and Barsaive are registered trademarks of FASA Corporation. Used with permission.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission from both the copyright holder and the publisher.

Per Aspera Press

a division of

Viridian City Media

2137 North 61st Street

Seattle, WA 98103

http://www.perasperapress.com/

For Seana,

with gratitude and love.


And for Greg Gorden,

whose generosity made this book possible.

 Foreword 

Since its inception way back in 1993, Liferock has been on a long quest for publication. It was the first novel I finished entirely on my own without help from collabora-tors, and although my writing has improved over the years, I remain quite fond (and proud) of this novel.

After I completed “Coiled in Dark Amber” — the Earthdawn novella that was published in Talisman — I set out to sell a novel to FASA. I loved the Earthdawn universe and its high-magic milieu. I especially thought obsidimen were fascinating. I wanted to help develop their culture.

Thus, the concept behind Liferock was conceived. I sent it to FASA with six other novel proposals, and was eventually contacted by their novel editor, Donna Ippolito. She said they were interested in seeing what I could do with Liferock. There was to be no actual contract, however. She wanted me to write most of the book on spec, so that she could see if I could actually pull it off.

I didn’t know either. I’d never written a novel before.

Could I actually do it? I hoped so.

So I wrote a good sixty thousand words and sent them off vi

Liferock 

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Jak Koke

in chapters for evaluation by Donna and Lou Prosperi, FASA’s Earthdawn Line Developer. They had several valuable comments and suggestions along the way, but ultimately they concluded that I was actually pretty good at this novel writing thing.

I was given a contract. With Lou’s guidance I finished the book and it was put into the publication queue as number eleven in the series. I was ecstatic. I had sold a novel, and it was going to be read by a lot of people. This is why I had become a writer!

While I waited for Liferock to be published, I wrote a proposal for a Shadowrun novel; FASA liked the idea, so I went on to complete what would become my first published book —Dead Air. When that novel was well received, I proposed writing something more epic and world-changing, perhaps spanning two or three books. I launched into the heretofore most ambitious writing project of my career, the trilogy of books in The Dragon Heart Saga.

Unfortunately, while the books in my trilogy sold very well, Earthdawn novel sales never reached expected goals.

The novel line was dropped by the publisher (Penguin ROC), and although FASA promised that they had plans to print and distribute the Earthdawn novels anyway, they only managed to get one more published before the whole novel line was can-celled.

And that might have been the end of Liferock’s journey if I had been content to let it lie. I wasn’t. I spoke with my good friend and long-time agent, Don Gerrard. He advised me to get the print rights back from FASA, and he helped me draft a letter to them requesting such. I did so, and FASA not only released the rights, but also generously granted permission for me to use their Earthdawn trademarks.

However, I eventually learned that — permission notwith-standing — other publishers were skittish about taking on a This Book Belongs to: Andrew Tobin (black _ [email protected]) Liferock 

viii


Jak Koke

book set in a universe copyrighted by another company. It seemed like Liferock would be consigned to the trunk forever.

But as the years passed, the field of publishing changed.

Print-on-demand technology increased possibilities for individuals and small presses, while the Internet created new options for distribution and marketing. I never intended to self-publish any of my books, but I also felt strongly that Liferock deserved to be in print . . . and so I took the plunge.

I began the publication process on my own, but it quickly expanded. Karawynn Long and I have decided to use the publication of Liferock as a proof-of-concept for launching a new small publishing company, Per Aspera Press. After Liferock, we will begin bringing out other books, including Caroline Spector’s two Earthdawn novels, Scars and Little Treasures, which were published in German translation but have never been printed in English. (Visit
www.lostearthdawn.com
for the latest information.) So my first novel is now at last in print. I’ve made a number of improvements to the original, based on excellent edito-rial feedback from Karawynn. It is a better book than it was ten years ago, and I have been told by people who know nothing of Earthdawn that the book has appeal for a wide range of fantasy fiction readers.

I hope you will agree.

— Jak Koke

September 2003

This Book Belongs to: Andrew Tobin (black _ [email protected]) A note for Earthdawn fans: Liferock was written just after the first Earthdawn rule book came out, and because the game world has been developed and changed since then, this novel might contain some contradictions to published game material and is likely to have some non-canonical information. If you are interested in the Earthdawn roleplaying game, please visit Living Room Games a
t http://www.lrgames.com/.

 Prologue 

Thousands of years ago . . .

Before science, before history, before the fall of magic destroyed all evidence of the wonders that had been, there was an age of magic and legend — an age of hero-ism, of terror and of fantastical races and creatures. The age of Earthdawn.

In this mythical time, magic flowed freely. Mages, sword-masters, troubadours, and smiths bent the patterns of life with their mystical powers. Magic pervaded everything, from the crafting and use of simple tools to the construction and piloting of huge and complex air ships. Magic technology was the status quo. Magic was power; knowledge and understanding of its uses meant the difference between life and death.

But the rise of magic also weakened the fabric of the metaplanes. Horrific creatures from the astral plane began to spring forth in the world, ravaging the land, the waters, and mankind. At first the Horrors were few and weak, but over time their numbers grew and their power increased. They became a pestilent tide, a Scourge that could not be turned back.

1

Liferock 

2


Jak Koke

The great mages of the Theran Empire understood the futility of fighting this Scourge; instead they prepared their peoples for a life sealed inside hidden and magically warded kaers. Most lived out the five-hundred-year holocaust in great underground cities, but some concealed themselves behind powerful veils of magic. Elves fortified their forest kingdom and the stone-like obsidimen hibernated deep inside their liferocks.

The tragic butchery of the Scourge lasted for half a mil-lennium. Horrors wreaked atrocities across the country, seek-ing out the kaers, sustained only on the pain and sorrow of intelligent beings. They breached many of the defenses and it seemed only a matter of time before the races of the world would be destroyed or go insane from confinement.

Until one day the Scourge ended. The power of the Horrors dwindled and they retreated to the hells from whence they came . . . mostly. Slowly, the curious races of Barsaive emerged from their hiding places, tentatively stepping back into the light. Humanity in all its forms — Dwarfs, Elves, Obsidimen, Humans, Orks, Trolls, T’skrang, Windlings — all spilled forth to explore the new dawn of their world.

In one part of Barsaive, deep in the recesses of the Servos Jungle, towered mammoth mesas of reddish sandstone.

These giant monolithic structures were called tepuis¸ and their cliffs rose up through the clouds and above. Rainforest clawed at their bases in a vain attempt to erode them to the ground. Exotic plants and animals thrived in the hollows and isolated crevices.

In the lower tiers, families of monkeys played in the fertile forest, and brightly colored macaws built nests of mud in the riverbanks sheltered by the overarching canopy of trees. Atop, This Book Belongs to: Andrew Tobin (black _ [email protected]) Liferock 

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Jak Koke

daily thunder and lightning storms ravaged the rock, the torrents stripping it free of soil. It was said that the Passion Thystonius caused the storms when he scratched his back on the ruddy stone.

The highest and most spectacular waterfalls in Barsaive plummeted from the heights of these mesas, the silver mist blown by the wind often never reaching the jungle floor, thousands of feet below. The tepuis were called elentriamal, the lost islands, by the elves who lived in the Jungle. They were as beautiful as they were dangerous, and many Name-givers have called the elentriamal of Servos Jungle their home.

One of the giant mesas, called Tepuis Garen in the dwarf tongue, was liferock to a brotherhood of obsidimen. The rock folk lived on or inside the stone near the top of the tepuis, where the spiritual force was strongest.

Obsidimen were a unique race, sexless and androgynous, born fully-grown from their liferock. They found much hu-mor in the sexual politics of other Name-givers. Obsidimen called themselves Topristanock in their language — a word which was neither singular nor plural and meant ‘Souls of the Earth.’ Despite the pun on their rock-like nature inherent in the dwarven appellation ‘obsidimen,’ they were not offended by it. They found it amusing, like many things the energy-wasters did.

Tepuis Garen was also home to other races; elves and windlings lived in the jungle around the rock, and there was a village of human and dwarf folk that had grown up by the waterfall-fed pool at the north end of the rock and along the stream which ran from the pool. The villagers called their town Rabneth.

The obsidimen of the Garen Brotherhood tolerated the energy-wasters so near to their home as long as their law with regard to the liferock was not breached. The other Name-givers hardly noticed the obsidimen at all. Many of the younger vil-This Book Belongs to: Andrew Tobin (black _ [email protected]) Liferock 

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Jak Koke

lagers had never seen one; they believed the rock folk were the stuff of old tales, fuel for troubadours’ stories and legends.

They could not have been more mistaken.

This Book Belongs to: Andrew Tobin (black _ [email protected]) Tepuis Garen


 Chapter One 

About a hundred years after the end of the Scourge, Gvint Od became the sole Elder of the Garen Brotherhood. Gvint stood at the edge of the Deathstone and watched seventeen of his brotherhood gather. They formed a silent circle around the Deathstone — a broad, flat boulder which served as a conduit into the liferock.

Gvint stood taller than the other obsidimen; his skin was the color of sandstone and the texture of granite. Gvint had a regally sloped forehead capped with his horkla of auburn braided with black. The horkla was a colorful skulldress worn by each adult brother at special ceremonies. Gvint’s body had been hardening over the years like a chitinous outer coating, yet he could still surprise the young ones with quick movements to keep them on guard. He wore ceremonial robes of magenta and indigo, interspersed with black and auburn in elaborate patterns. These were the colors of the Garen Brotherhood, and Gvint had been wearing the robes at every ceremony since he had become an Elder.

BOOK: Shadowrun - Earthdawn - Lliferock
12.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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