Beneath the Surface is a fantasy world-build that brings together everything I love from the fantasy genre in a balance of familiarity and originality – all while offering a unique portal to the real world via a hollow Earth. On the inside of this Earth, the Innerworld houses the fantasy setting. On the outside, the Outerworld (otherwise known as the Surface) is home to our historic Earth.
This fantasy setting has knights, pirates, and dragons – all roaming a world that blends together medieval and the age of discovery. Apes (known as habili) occupy the great jungles and forests – while advocates of The Judge (humans, elves, gnomes, giants, dwarves, orcs, ogres, and goblins) have ‘advocatial’ empires spread across the continents.
And with all fantasy, there has to be magic. Though in the Innerworld, it is not a matter of spellcasting and witchcraft. It is a case of mind control. Those known as Shekinah are able to manipulate the minds of others. They also form a bond, and thus find close companionship, with a cold-blooded animal – from toads to dragons to anything in-between. Though it comes at a price.
Shekinah do not choose their cold-blooded companions. And while they share such companionship, their skin scars by the day.
It should be noted that Shekinah are thought as nothing more than a myth by most – if ‘most’ even know of them at all.
The Shekinah Children is the first saga of multiple I have planned to showcase the cataclysmic and changing moments that shape the timeline of the Innerworld, bringing one age to an end while bringing another to life. In this case, cataclysm is coming at the hands of a Shekinah, Cadaverous Rosenvelt (who intends on reviving dragons from their extinction to burn civilization into a position of restart), and will bring an end to the Age of the Advocatial Empires.
In The Shekinah Children | Book One, this age of Innerworld history is shown through two prominent POVs – primarily following one protagonist each.
One protagonist is Indigo, a young woman under the captaincy of Captain Bauta of The Malabarista – a circus ship, profiting from bringing exotic and fantastical creatures to the seaside towns and cities of the Innerworld. With news of a hatched dragon reaching her captain (Captain Bauta), her story is set to revolve around a pursuit of said dragon to strengthen their history-making quest to the Surface. However, chaos strikes as she is hunted herself – by Shekinah, under the suspicion that she is, too, a Shekinah.
Meanwhile, along an Outlandish coast of the Edenese Empire, Ulrich Leinheart finds himself in the company of a newly-hatched dragon – one that leads him deep into the Agrar, a habili jungle and home to Eden’s enemy. There, he finds himself hunted by his own kind while having to earn the trust of his supposed enemy.
By the end of The Shekinah Children | Book One, it is revealed that Indigo, Ulrich, and Ulrich’s brother (Merten – who does not feature in this book) are all Shekinah and, though divided and unaware, share the same origin story – where their mothers (Lorelei and her servant) fled from the threat of Cadaverous Rosenvelt and his plans for cataclysm. Using Shekinah, he intends on bending dragons to his will and burning a new age into fruition.
This revelation occurs in a third, and less-prominent, POV following Leofwine – a younger rendition of Captain Bauta (though, this is not revealed until the end). His story shows he and his crew venture to the Surface and back again – all while Leofwine is sending letters (and is thus logging his journey) to Lorelei: his ‘Lady that might have been’. It is this venture that has Captain Bauta (unaware, until the reveal at the end of the book, that he is also Leofwine) have his crew and his ship set off on a quest to the Outerworld.
Vermin Sickness takes place deep in the time period that follows the cataclysmic event of the Beneath the Surface | The Shekinah Children saga: the Age of Ash. In this age, one large continent (now known as Velt’s Victoria – where Cadaverous Rosenvelt’s headquarters had once been) has become tainted by the science the villain had been working with. The substances in which he was using bled into the environment of this continent and mutated it and a large portion of its inhabitants.
This results in the threat of a manipulated army of rat-men seeking to gain control over the continent. Unlike The Shekinah Children, this saga’s historical moment of change is not cataclystic. It is change and triumph. The continent is brought to peace as those who occupy it find a way to live alongside the mutants who had once been seen to ‘taint’ the land.
This saga will primarily follow the Bulwark family’s younger generation of characters (who all find themselves caught up in this conflict between rats and men) and a mutated Shekinah playing the role of Vermin Hunter. He will be portrayed as a vampire-like figure who, rather than feed off advocate blood, feeds off vermin blood.
As mentioned, my plans for the Beneath the Surface franchise is to showcase the pivotal times in the world-build’s history. Or, at the very least, show how the events in Innerworld history we come to learn about first occurred or were first made possible. For example, in the likes of The Shekinah Children, we learn or see how a faction of Shekinah (The Ven-Curie) created a flood or unleashed dragons to bring forth a reset of civilization. In some of these other tales, however, we might discover how the key villains got their motives for destruction or how they found the keys to their plan. How they learned the location of the dragons, perhaps.
I seek to take inspiration from the mysteries and unknowns of our real world’s history, addressing where the Knights Templar fled to the night before their arrest was issued, who the magi were behind the injection of intelligence into the first known civilization of mankind, or what was buried by Enoch and thus led to ‘the Holy grail’.
Regarding different ideas for stand-alone stories, trilogies, or epic sagas, I have the following spinning around my head…
The Tale of William Wamp
During the Age of Ash, Grimm Wamp, a gnome Shekinah and guardian of a faerie village, finds a baby giant (William Wamp) abandoned in Wightwood – the forest he calls home.
In this tale, we meet the inventor behind the creation of the zeppelin – a cause for a new age.
The Knights of the Sinking Star
Through a tale that follows two POVs (one of the Knights Templar fleeing from their issued arrest on Friday 13th, and one of a Viking ship sailing too far north – missing Iceland), we see humans bridge the gap from our historic Earth to The Innerworld. The Viking tale leads to the Knights Templar’s quest – that, in turn, results in a log of the fleet’s journey. It is these records (or this story) that provide Leofwine with the inspiration and instructions to venture to the Surface – as seen in The Shekinah Children.
Adjured to its Core
This tale would be set far in the future, in the Age of Artificial Adjudication. Unlike the other stories, this would be a fantasy/sci-fi hybrid, where a rapid advance in technology leads to those of a Hollow Earth bringing life to Mars by making an artificial Core – The Innerworld’s version of a sun. Thus, inside Mars, civilization can be found.
During the Age of Flight (named such due to the invention of zeppelins – all while dragons remain existent), we learn as to how the people of the Innerworld find the key to unlocking the technology required to reach the advanced and sci-fi setting seen in Adjured to its Core.
This tale would likely be the first to dabble in the origin of the Shekinah and the magi of Earth’s early civilizations – leaning on the conspiracies surrounding the Egyptian pyramids and the hieroglyphs found inside.
The University of Goblins, Orcs, and Ogres
During the Age of Flight, a university for goblins, orcs, and ogres is set up – wherein its students are prepared to enter the Surface come their graduation. This tale shows the beginning of both worlds, the Outerworld and the Innerworld, coming together – bringing forth the Age of Unity.
Unlike the rest of these sagas adnd stories, this series could easily be written for a younger audience – perhaps even children.
The First Watcher
This tale would show the first of the Watchers (the dragon riders who guarded peace throughout the largest empire of ‘advocatial’ history: The Great Karikan Empire) and thus show the beginning of the Age of the Great Karikans.
With a second POV, we will also see the end of this age and how the first Watcher from the other POV left the key to keeping the dragons safe if they ever fell – as they do at the hands of The Ven-Curie.