All posts by Michael DeAngelo

Michael is the creator of the Tellest brand of fantasy novels and stories. He is actively seeking to expand the world of Tellest to be accessible to everyone.

Character Art – Zoe Hart

Howdy folks!  I always feel like it takes forever before we have the opportunity to put up a new piece by Red Pear, but I’m always so happy when those opportunities arrive.  With the exception of Leo and Hozure, there’s no artist we’ve worked with who has been more prolific, and she gives us a really good look at the characters we’ve created.

Today, we’re looking at a character we’ve seen before.  A couple different artists have tried their hand at Zoe Hart, but this is the first time, believe it or not, that Red Pear has tried her hand at the second generation hero.

Zoe was a quick one for us.  Pear gave us two sketches to work with, and this one was the one that we passed on.

The original pose looked a little too much like Lyla, so we opted for this second piece.  Both highlighted her weapon of choice, the sai.

The detail layer shows off a bunch of cool little details, like her neck piece, and the braid in her hair.  It also highlights her youth.  She’s definitely on the younger side of the characters—maybe younger than Adelia is by the time all our heroes converge—but she’s still a force to be reckoned with!

And here’s our final version of the character with a splash of color.

Here’s a fun fact: If you’ve ever played that game whisper down the lane, this is kind of what it’s like when art is involved.  In the books, Zoe isn’t quite as…bountiful.  But our first artist to tackle her, John Becaro, has a very specific style.  His women all have large assets, and every artist to take on the character since then has kept those womanly curves in place!

That’s it for this take.  It won’t be long before our next Red Pear feature though.  Stay tuned!

The Littlest Kobold, Read Along – Part One

Hey there everyone!  Way back in February of 2015, we featured a story called The Littlest Kobold on this site.  Since then, some pretty big things have happened for Tellest.  We’ve begun selling audiobooks, the titular kobold, Leah, became an upcoming card game character, and we’ve made a bunch of new friends.

One of those new friends is Cristina Cruz, an aspiring voice actress. We’re collaborating with Cristina in order to give her some practice, and we thought we’d bring her to you in order to get her some exposure, and any constructive critiques you might care to offer.

We’re going to be posting The Littlest Kobold once more, only this time, you get to read along with Cristina as she narrates.  If you have anything you’d like to suggest to Miss Cruz in order to help her hone her craft, please leave a post in the comment section.  Big thanks to Cristina for offering her talents here!

 

The Littlest Kobold
A Story by Michael DeAngelo
-Part One-
Narrated by Cristina Cruz

 

In the fading evening light, the forest had taken on a golden tint.  Fallen leaves were scattered everywhere, and the branches above were bare.  Autumn was a beautiful time in Daltain, but it was also a reminder of the harsh winter to come.

For the littlest kobold, it was a reminder of the crunch of leaves beneath a hasty retreat.  Panting excessively, she braced herself on the nearest tree, her furry hand cracked from running on all fours.  She looked around to collect her bearings, but she knew better than most that the unfamiliar territory would offer her no sanctuary.

The howl of the hunting dog echoed through the forest.  Despite the terror washing over her tiny body, the kobold couldn’t stifle a nervous laugh.  What kind of kobold was chased by a dog?

“We’ll find you, Hare!” a voice in the distance called out.

“Better to show yourself now and be done with it,” came another, warmer voice.

Shaking her head, the tiny kobold took one last breath and charged forward.  That time she ran on her back legs.  Her pursuers had not been dissuaded by her simple trick.

Brown and orange leaves were scattered this way and that, and her tracks would mean nothing to the hunting dog in the far reaches of the forest, though her large triangular ears caught the sound of a stream.  The water could easily disguise her scent.

She would be home in Warus before she knew it.

The kobold leaned forward and bent low, charging ahead as fast as her little legs could carry her.  That rush of adrenaline was all for naught, she realized, the moment she stepped on the hidden bramble.

A burst of pain surged up her leg, eliciting a yelp she couldn’t stifle.  The agony sent her tumbling to the ground, crashing down among the leaves.  The dog barked at the sound of her cry, and she knew there was not much time.  Climbing to her feet once more, the kobold began forward.

She was promptly upon the ground again, wincing away the pain in her right foot.  Hushing a growl, she lifted her foot and gazed upon it.  Between the padding just before her toes, a massive thorn was securely embedded and just out of reach for a simple extraction.

The light trickle of the stream sounded so close, but the kobold knew it to be out of reach.  Even if she crawled, the dog and its master would outpace her.

“Come out, come out, Hare!” she heard.

Gulping a large pocket of air, the littlest kobold skittered toward the nearest tree.  There, she lay on her back and gathered up piles of leaves until she was covered.  Sifting through the pile, she made sure even her snout was hidden.  She held her breath then, steadying herself in the darkness.

The next few minutes felt like hours.  The nearby fauna had stopped chattering, only the sounds of rustling retreats echoing out in the woods.

When the kobold heard the dog’s growl, she knew it to be right beside her.  She nearly flinched in terror but somehow kept her composure, even as the scent of the dog’s hot breath permeated the leaves above her nose.

A snicker rose into the air beyond the dog.  “Hold ‘im, will ya?” one of the men said.

Several moments later, the leaves were swept away from the kobold’s face.  She stared at her pursuer, frozen by fear.  He let a wry grin stretch his lips, showing two rows of crooked teeth.

She swallowed hard and sat up.  “If you’re looking for the kobold, I think she went that way,” she said, pointing toward the stream.  At that, she gathered up the leaves and spread them upon herself once more.

Before she was able to cover herself completely, the two men were already chuckling.  The closer one bent down and snatched her by the collar of her vest.  “Come on, Hare, back to the circus with you.”

She could offer little resistance, allowing her head to bow and her body to go limp.  Her lips parted for a moment, but she could not find the sentiment she wished to impart.

“Oi, what were ye gonna say?” the other man asked.

A brief pause had silence passing in the forest.  She finally looked up, her brow furled.  “My name is Leah, and I’m a kobold.”

“Aye, little one,” the man holding her said.  He lifted her up and sat her upon his shoulder.

The other one tapped his dog on the rump and started away.  “But to us, ye’ll always be the Hare.”

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

The scent of breakfast sausages and toasting bread pressed through the cloth tent.  Camille Destrite was sitting up before she woke.  As her eyes fluttered open, that delicious aroma was the only thing she could think of.  She was sure it was powerful enough to rise over the hills to the northeast.

Stepping out of the tent, she understood she was not the only one awake at that hour.  The two eldest of her brothers, Jerrick and Abraham, sat upon rocks that circled the cooking fire, eagerly awaiting their meal.  Leaning up against their wagon, her father, Virgil, was occupied by her one-year-old sister, Kira.  Free of the burden, her mother, Nika, prepared a hearty breakfast for her family.

The only one not in attendance was her youngest brother, Rion.

“Nice of you to join us, Camille,” her mother playfully jabbed.

“Good morning, Mother,” she returned, a sweet smile upon her face.  She reached out, trying to snag a sizzling link of sausage from the pan.

A gentle pivot had Nika away from her daughter.  “Oh, no.  You’ve already got two strikes against you.  You’re the oldest, and you slept the longest – right through your chores.  These boys have waited all morning.  If you want to eat, you’ll have to help.”

“Papa,” Camille said.

Virgil stepped forward, away from the carriage, with a smile on his face.  Nika was quick to turn and face her husband, a challenging stare pointed in his direction.  Tightening his grip on young Kira, he fell back against their wagon.  “Do as your mother says,” he bade.

Their eldest child blew out a quick, shallow sigh, and her shoulders slumped.  “What should I do?” she asked.

“For starters, you can go and get your brother,” Nika said.  “He’s been just over that ridge all morning, up before any of us.  When you bring him back, you can both eat.”

Stifling a groan, Camille took her leave, abandoning the hypnotizing smell that lingered in her nostrils.  She made quick work of ascending the hill and reached the ridge Nika had told her of.  The trees were densely packed there, shedding their leaves before winter arrived.  If they had been farther south, the heat would have kept them green and in place all year.

As Camille crunched forward, she rose over the final expanse.  In the distance, she saw the massive yellow and red tent at the base of the hill, just beyond the outskirts of Aspica.  The circus arrived in the fall, and her father had promised his children for years they would one day visit.

Camille stood in awe for a moment, for the circus tent stretched farther than she imagined.

“Cami?”

She drew her gaze from the magnificent circus tent and looked to her side.  Rion sat there upon a pile of rocks, his knees pulled up to his chest.  He faced the tent as well but remained focused on his sister once she arrived.

“What are you doing all alone out here?” she asked, approaching her younger sibling.  “Mama made breakfast.  Can’t you smell it?”

Rion swallowed hard and looked away.  “If I don’t eat, maybe I don’t have to go.”

“To the circus?” Camille asked with arched eyebrows.  “Why wouldn’t you want to go there?  Don’t you know that’s the whole reason we came all this way?  It’s why Papa rented the carriage and put Theodore in charge of the store and –”

“I’m scared,” he interjected, releasing the tight grip on his legs.  He slid off the rock and stepped toward the edge of the ridge, looking past the trees at the huge canvas tent.

Camille sat beside him a moment later.  “I think you’re braver than you realize.  And you know Jerrick and I were only teasing.  If they do have a gryphon, I doubt they’d let it swoop down and eat children your age.  Now, Kira on the other hand…”

A smile reached Rion’s face.  “It’s not that.  I –”

“And if you’re worried about the elephants, I’m sure they’re an especially docile bunch.  They want to keep their customers coming back, so they won’t allow a stampede.”

“I’m not scared of elephants, Cami.”

“Then what has you so frightened you would willingly avoid breakfast?  Mama is cooking up sausage down there!”

Rion swallowed hard and turned to his sister.  “There are clowns at the circus.”

Staring at him for a moment, Camille crooked her neck as if to see the madness in her brother’s mind.  “Yes, that is usually the case.”

“I don’t think I like clowns,” he said.

Camille sucked in her lips and clasped them together.  Despite that, a smile still started to stretch the corners of her mouth.  She did her best to stifle a chortle, but when that failed, she turned away from her brother.

“It isn’t funny,” Rion asserted.

Steadying herself, she pivoted on her heel and looked upon her sibling once more.  “No, it isn’t.  We have a real dilemma here.”  A laugh burst out of her as her inflection rose.  She covered her face in a futile attempt to shroud her reaction, but Rion stormed off, stomping down the hill toward their campsite.  Camille righted herself and caught up to him, grabbing his shoulder.  “You don’t have anything to worry about,” she promised, sincerity overwhelming in her tone.  “The clowns aren’t there to hurt or scare you, and if any of them did, just know I’d punch them in their foolish faces.”

Her little brother wrapped his arms around her waist, squeezing her in a tight embrace.  She tousled his hair and urged him on, continuing his return to the campsite.  With a bright smile stretching her lips, she turned once more to see the sprawling circus tent in the valley below.

Camille clapped her hands together and followed Rion back to their family.

Character Art – Keota of the Avarians

Hey there folks. It’s a lot of fun to show off all our characters, but in a world as diverse as Tellest, I feel like we’ve leaned on our human characters a bit more than I’d like to admit!  We’ve got a few elves that we’ve seen, and the dwarves have shown up in a few larger pictures (though not by themselves).  And of course we’ve seen a bit of Dirk and Kaiyonani.  But it’s time to give some other characters a chance to shine!

Today’s character is Keota, the avarian who is aided by Bolt Thunderfury against a giant and an army of naga.

As with all of our collaborations with Hozure, we began with a few poses that we were able to choose from.  For such an interesting character, we wanted something that showed off a lot of him.

We opted to go with something that showed Keota’s broad, bronze wings.  He’s no stranger to armor and weaponry either.

Once we added some more luster to the character, Keota nearly popped of the screen.  He made for a great ally to Bolt, and it was awesome to see him realized like this.

Tacking on a background makes this incredible avarian look even more impressive.

What do you think?  Would you like to see more of Keota’s roost captured in art like this?  There’s plenty more on the horizon!

Art: Kaos and Steel Tip – Alliance

Hey there folks.  Today’s post is going to be short, but sweet.  It’s my birthday today, and it’s my best friend Kev’s birthday tomorrow.

When I first conceptualized Tellest, a lot of my friends were stand-ins for the characters in my mind.  That happens, I suppose, when you’re seventeen and you’re using videogames where you can make your own characters as your starting point!

With that said, Kaos and Steel Tip were fairly obvious references to me and Kev.  While a lot has changed in the series since then, and things are changing even more in the next few years, taking us further from these characters as we knew them, I’ll always remember the time where these two heroes were the two of us.

Thank you to Leo for taking these characters, and putting a spin on them so that they looked like the two of us.  Happy early birthday to Kev!

Fantasy Promo – Sirenhawk Book 1 : Misborn of the Snowy Reaches

Hello there all you fans of fantasy.  We have been on a roll these past few weeks, bringing you non-stop action across a lot of different sub-genres.  July is a huge month for us, and we’re so excited to have some other fantastic authors along for the ride with us.

L.E.Parr is arguably the most prolific author that we ever have on our site, and it seems she’s not content to just raise the bar.  As it turns out, she wants to send it into orbit.

While you might be familiar with Parr’s Fariidinus series—we’ve shown it off a lot here on Tellest, and we’re always excited for more—there’s a new urban fantasy in town, and it’s already well underway.  The Sirenhawk series does for shapeshifters what Fariidinus did for fairies.  The lead character, Ice, takes shelter from the world of man in a hidden place in Sierra Nevada, but she also can’t ignore the pull of the big city.  Whereas Parr’s fairy series was brutal beyond the veil of the beautiful creatures, Sirenhawk leans more on whimsy.  The author definitely flexes her humor muscles here, to great effect.

Iceria, Ice, is a hawk-human shapeshiifter. It’s Ice’s job to protect the Northern Corridor from the hereditary enemy of the sirenhawks, the deadly she’ravens. Iceria’s sisters consider her a little odd. She is a literal thinker, she loves shiny baubles and jewelry and her favorite book is an old English dictionary. In human form, Ice and all her kind are sirens of myth and legend. As the battle against the deadly she’ravens escalates, Ice discovers two things about herself. The first, she has a warrior’s heart and the second, she’s capable of falling in love in a very human way.

Parr has already established herself with one stellar series.  With Sirenhawk, though, the author proves that she can let two storylines breathe and grow independent of each other.  Ice is an adorable new lead, and she is the perfect way to be introduced to the sirenhawks. Best of all, Sirenhawk‘s second book will be out in September!

While I eagerly wait for the follow-up, I submit to you this stellar debut in the series.  Sirenhawk is fun fantasy at its very best, and you’re sure to love it.  Check it out on Amazon to join Ice on her first big adventure!

Quantum Quest – First Chambers Set

Howdy folks.  As we move forward into new adventures for Tellest, we’ve been showing off some pretty cool things for our upcoming card game, Quantum Quest.  You’ve already seen all of the characters our game has to offer (minus some exclusives that we’re keeping under wraps for now), but it’s time to see what else we have in store for you gamers out there.

 

Healing Fountain

First up, we have one of the more beneficial rooms in our dungeon. If your adventurers happen upon a healing fountain, they’re in for some rest.  It’ll refresh their vigor, and give them a new chance at tackling the dangers of the dungeon.

You’ll also see that we have two different variations of the chamber. Since we have so many different races, we thought some might like the more sinister looking symbol.

Our artist gave us a slightly different version of this fountain as well, and we chose the one that looked a little cleaner.

 

Magic Portal

Part of the dangers of going through the living dungeon in Quantum Quest is that you run out of people you can depend on. Unfortunately, when you’re trying to take over a dungeon in order to survive, you need all the help you can get.  That’s where the magic portal comes into play.  If heroes manage to find this chamber, they can call on allies from distant lands across time and space.

 

Mana Pool

Mana is the primary resource in Quantum Quest.  When you’re running low, all kinds of bad things can happen.  Meanwhile, if you’ve an overabundance of the stuff, you can sway the dungeon to your favor, and even cast incredible spells.

 

Mana Storm

If a mana pool is beneficial, then a mana storm has got to be the opposite.  It’s what happens when you lean too heavily on magic all at once.  Not only do you lose hold over the arcane, but you also feel your mind overcome.  Not a pretty picture.

We chose to go with a slightly more askew version of the art for the final piece.  Plus it’s got some added rocks to add to the feel that things are really chaotic!

 

Pit Trap

One of the quintessential traps in every dungeon, the pit trap damages you and rubs some salt in the wound by making you have to climb your way out.  This could be a valuable waste of time, however, as even being stuck in a pit could be seen as a brief respite from the dungeons many other dangers.

 

Rat’s Den

Another popular fantasy game archetype, rats make up a good portion of opening enemies, letting you learn the ropes while you lay the smack down on enemies that can’t really hurt you all too badly.

 

 

 

That’s it for our first set of chambers, but be on the lookout in the weeks to come when we show off more of what makes our dungeon tick!

Fantasy Promo – Sapphire Ambition

Howdy folks!  We are on a roll here at Tellest, and it’s great to say that we’ve got old friends who are doing just as well!  It’s always nice to revisit someone’s world, and even better when they have a new book out!

We promoted Jeff Kish’s Diamond Bonds a ways back, but he’s back to show off his talents with the sequel, Sapphire Ambition. Everything that made the first book entertaining is cranked up a notch here, and the stakes are ever higher.  The world he’s built continues to grow, and new characters are introduced while the established ones get a chance to shine even brighter.

Following the failed barracks raid that cost him his arm, Era once more finds himself running from the military who imprisoned and enslaved the friend he swore to protect. Though intent on saving Di, he knows he can do nothing to save her until he unravels the mystery behind her bondage and the truth of his own identity, especially as his falsified memories and steadily-growing earth shaping capabilities only serve to instill doubt that the creeds Era once held dear are truly part of who he is.

I am so happy to get another book in the Runics Series.  I was always a firm believer that Diamond Bonds should have been picked up by Kindle Scout, and it was a crime that it was overlooked.  In the meantime though, Kish took everything in stride, and delivered his book to everyone, and put together a substantial sequel.  It is everything you like to see in a follow-up, and it’s sure to leave you eager for the third book!  Check out Sapphire Ambition on Amazon today!

We have some great news for you to coincide with Sapphire Ambition‘s release.  For the next three days, Diamond Bonds is free on Amazon.  There’s never a better time to get started with this series than right now!

Fantasy Promo – Timecrack

Hey folks!  We’re using some of the momentum from our latest venture into the Otherworld to turn right back around and visit more works of great fiction.  And there’s no better tale than today’s to go with the theme.

One of my favorite Michael Crichton properties was Timeline.  And yes, I even loved the movie with Paul Walker and Gerard Butler.  If you’re a fan of the concept of finding ways through time and space, today’s promo is going to be right up your alley.

William Long’s Timecrack is one of those entertaining books that pulls you out of the monotony of day to day life, and thrusts you upon a whole new world.  In this first book in his series, we join the Kinross family in a beautiful, humorous, thrilling adventure when a portal opens and pulls them through to a fantastic, new world.

Timecracks act as portals to other dimensions. They have existed since the creation of time, and when one arrives during a storm at the newly discovered pyramid site in the Yucatan jungle, it’s the beginning of a nightmare journey into another world for archaeologist, Malcolm Kinross and his wife, Lucy.

And when another timecrack strikes the secretive energy facility in New Mexico, their sons, Archie and Richard, along with their tutor, Marjorie, and their uncle, Professor John Strawbridge, all find themselves thrust into the same world of New Arrivals, ancient warring tribes and deadly enemies.

Richard is endowed with the ability to ‘see’ beyond his own world. Can he help Archie to find their parents, and help the scientists at Mount Tengi to find a way for all of them to return home, and can he escape the clutches of the mad high priest, Prince Lotane?

Timecrack is a lovely endeavor by Long, and one that you’ll be happy to know already has a sequel, with a third coming along soon.  It has characters that are endearing and easy to relate to, and a world that is fully realized with secrets left to be discovered.  If you’re interested in this fun fantasy romp, check out Timecrack on Amazon today!

As a bonus, the author gives away free chapters of the book on his website for people who subscribe.  Check it out:

https://williamlongbooks.co.uk/

Character Art – Lyla

Hey there folks!  It’s been two-and-a-half months since we’ve had the opportunity to show you some of the gorgeous artwork that RedPear does for us.  We’re going to make up for that today with some character art of one of our fan favorites.

Lyla Brenna is an interesting warrior.  Her home was overrun by another country, and she was drafted into their army.  In time, she demonstrated her value to them as both a competent fighter, and as a capable spy.  When she meets Kaos Kreegan, though, she’s unprepared for her heart to win over her sensibilities.

This is one of the sketches we passed on.  I feel like we could have pushed for this one though, and it would have made for an awesome book cover down the line.

We also passed on this one.  It looks great, but the winner that RedPear served up for us was spectacular.

This one just seemed so much more evocative for some reason. Whether it was because of the sword, the armor or her seductive gaze, we knew we had our winner.

Lyla is one of those characters who you just can’t help but enjoy reading about.  She’s capable in a world filled with powered individuals, and she’s not hindered by love, but bolstered by it.  It’s an interesting thing that you don’t see too much in fiction.

And here you go, our final look at RedPear’s Lyla.  I love the pattern of her armor, and again, she captures so much emotion in that gaze. We look forward to bringing you another RedPear art piece at the end of next month.  Stay tuned!

Fantasy Promo – Fariidinus Book 5: Wings of the Sea

Hey there folks.  We’re happy to be back with a new promo for an old friend today.  It feels like we’ve been gone from the Heartland for way too long, and I for one have need to see some beautiful, lethal fairies again.

L.E.Parr is back once again to show us the work she excels at. Fariidinus Book 5: Wings of the Sea is another bout of worldbuilding at its finest, and this time she brings us to a whole new realm.  The Heartland seas become an intriguing place to visit, thanks to newcomer Melody, who holds sway over that domain.  The story fits in with the previous book as well, as some focus is left on Kirin, who became this second set’s big hero.  It’s Melody who gets to shine here, though, and you’ll quickly fall in love with her.

MELODY, Dee, was the youngest child to fall under Letal’s knife. It was her culling that finally goaded Kirin into the war. Even though her xylin node was left intact, Dee’s wings never recovered and she cannot fly. But, Dee, has an extraordinary gift, never seen before in the species. She can control the sea and communicate with the little mermaids, the merikin. When one of the Houses conspires to destroy Kirin with poison, they experiment on the merikin with great loss of life. In a desperate attempt to save the merikin and the Heartland seas, Dee races against time and miles to lead her friends to safety.

We’ve had the awesome privilege of working with Parr several times before, and her books are always great fun.  The first trilogy was tremendous entertainment, and these newer books are set to keep up to that same pace while also carving out the world she’s built even further.  Melody is an awesome character to add to her already impressive roster.  If you want to read her story, check out Fariidinus Book 5: Wings of the Sea on Amazon today.