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What is the Pentalayerverse?

What is the Pentalayerverse?
This is the five layer Earth that all Anne Zoelle books inhabit (so far!). As Will explains in The Awakening of Ren Crown, “In the Split, four magical layers identical in geography to the first were created directly on top of this one, using most of the world’s available magic. Leaving this—the First Layer—a normal, non-magical safe haven for people without magic abilities. Course, that was three thousand years ago, so most places look different between the layers now—due to weathering and construction by different species and kingdoms.”

Who inhabits the layers?
1 = non-magic layer for humans and animals
2 = stable magic layer for mages
3 = stable/unstable magic layer (depending on time period) for mages and beings
4 = stable magic layer for creatures, beings, beasts
5 = unstable magic layer (traverse at your own risk!)

Where do the books take place?
* The Ren Crown series is a current day story that mostly takes place in the Second Layer (with jaunts to the First and Third).
* Tender of the Garden takes place in the Fourth Layer, also in the current day time period.
* The Scepter series takes place in the Second and First Layers of Ancient Persia (600BCE).

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Ren Crown Characters + Quotes

The Students

Ren Crown

Florence (Ren) Crown is an art prodigy and gifted engineer with wavy brownish-red hair and blue eyes. Average height. Bright-eyed, studious, curious, mischievous, hardworking, and highly loyal. 17 at start of series, 18 for most of it.

Ren’s skillset gives her abilities that, when combined with magic, make for a rare mix. When combined with a disregard for limitations and boundaries, however, they make for a volatile and dangerous combination. At times, she can be too focused, and she will do anything for those she loves. These character traits repeatedly lead to issues.

As the first person POV character in the series, everything is shown through the lens of Ren’s vision and experience.

Christian Crown

Christian Crown is Ren’s twin brother. Brown hair with red highlights, teal eyes rimmed with sapphire, 6’2.”

Highly popular, intelligent, athletic, and kind. Socially and physically gifted, Christian is the quarterback of the football team, as well as a high level player in a slew of other sports. He’s a physical learner, always needing to be a little active to learn best.

Highly protective of Ren. The twins will do anything for each other.

Olivia Price

Olivia (Liv) Helena Price, Ren’s roommate at Excelsine University. Brown hair usually severely bound, brown eyes, 5’8”, 18, sometimes wears glasses.

Intelligent, driven, cutting. Majoring (focus) in law. Highly intelligent and skilled in debate, she is deficient at interpersonal interactions, having few healthy examples to draw from. If given enough time to plan, she could take over the world, but she is less adept at things that require immediate response. Her superpower is thinking, not action.

Olivia starts as a neutral-nemesis in Ren’s world, but quickly becomes something far more. At first she finds Ren an interesting specimen for study purposes, but she transforms under Ren’s constant care. Freaked out by this, she pushes Ren away, but Ren is doggedly persistent. And, far more like Constantine than either of them wishes, Olivia’s world soon has Ren at its center.

As the series advances, Olivia would murder—without regret—anyone who tried to do Ren harm.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK #1: Potential new roommate Olivia Price was dressed in a tailored black and gray dress that looked very severe on her tall, thin frame…Her hair was pulled tightly into a bun as severe as her clothing, and rectangular black glasses perched on the bridge of her very straight nose.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK #2: I wondered if this was a side effect of my soul rituals, with me now tasting a bit of her soul. Unnerving. But my brain, my heart, and my magic told me that I was doing something right. And I knew better than to mess with that feeling.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK #3: So I drew the net toward me. Some sort of essence—eau-de-Olivia. And I inhaled. Sadness. Anger. Loneliness. Dark intentions. Hope. Black certainty. The hope was a tiny flame, a mere wisp of light, and all of
the darker emotions suddenly grabbed it and pinched, leaving only snuffed residual smoke.

Olivia whirled around and disappeared from my sight.

That cool, haughty, unaffected girl was a fraud.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK #4: I wouldn’t let that loneliness continue. Determination gripped me. The desire to be occasional allies was gone. I would be Olivia’s friend, and she would be mine.

Alexander Dare

Alexander (Axer, Ax) Dare is a combat mage prodigy with ultramarine eyes and dark hair. Athletic, tall, 19.

The only child of a warlord and Sera McEllian Dare (a highly feared rare mage), he is extremely powerful in both magic and influence, but continuously tested for abilities he has yet to show. He is considered the protector of Excelsine University.
The Dares’ large and powerful extended clan lives on a fortified island called Itlantes and are very much a “family first” tribe. Extremely insular in his choice of friends, after a rough start, he eventually becomes one of Ren’s closest confidantes. Everyone except Ren questions his motives.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #1: One boy stood untouched in the middle of the field without a weapon. His familiar Last Judgment blue eyes barely spared a cold glance at the next challenger in front of him—nor the one sneaking up at his back—as lights shot from his palms and fingertips, his arms performing a deadly dance.
Michelangelo would have dearly loved him.
Will was saying something about avoiding mages who wore three rings, but I couldn’t hear over the pumping of my heart in my ears. I stared at the hue of the boy’s eyes and watched as he annihilated everyone around him.
“Huh? Oh, that’s Alexander Dare, combat mage. Best on campus, and that’s saying something since the university encompasses ages sixteen to twenty-two. Considered a prodigy. Even beat Marsgrove last year when Dare was a second year. The combat mages all call him Axer for good reason. I’d, uh, stay away from him.”

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #2: And all of a sudden, all I could see was blue. Two circles of ultramarine, the color straight from the deepest shade of The Last Judgment.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #3: He was dark, athletic, and wind-blown, sporting the echo of the smirking smile he had worn upon making the catch—the kind that appeared only on the faces of guys who were totally convinced of their own skill.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #4: Alexander Dare, who was standing with his arms crossed at the edge of the pile-up, looking down at the bodies and blood in amusement.

Constantine Leandred

Constantine Leandred is a materials mage with caramel-colored eyes and dark hair. Lean, tall, 19 (for most of the series).

Extremely narcissistic and bitter. Genius-level intellect. Uses people frequently. Is very good at manipulating people, and finds it a game. Constantine doesn’t “do” friends. Ren makes him one anyway.

Ren and Constantine frequently work together on illegal projects. He becomes one of Ren’s closest confidantes, but his motivations are always suspect and motivated by self-interest. Constantine’s aims increasingly coincide with Ren’s as she slowly shifts to becoming his main interest.

Constantine has a complicated history with Alexander Dare. Dare is #3 on the list of people he wishes dead at the start of the series. #2 is his wealthy and politically untouchable father, who he loathes. #1 on the list is revealed when Constantine’s true motivation in the series surfaces.

Constantine has shown an affinity for mind magic, but his skill with it isn’t registered in an official capacity.


His dark hair was too long in the front and the back, and he was extremely good looking in that charmingly sordid and insouciant “I buy the best designer drugs and use them frequently” way that old money kids sometimes had. Everything about him screamed wealth, privilege, and youthful waste.
He laughed. Even that was dark, sparkling, and edged. False, like black champagne.


He lazily twined a long dark ribbon around his finger, piercing eyes at odds with his seductive smile. He probably had a list of conquests as long as his designer clad legs. Slick and cool and slippery.


But Constantine’s posture and magic now mirrored what his eyes had hinted from the beginning—a sharp and deadly focus threaded through his external insouciance.


Stevens was muttering as she grabbed something from her desk. “Look at him standing there after working them over. Stupidly brilliant and horrible. Bane of my existence.” She stalked out of the lab.

I could clearly see the drama through the glass panes. The boy smirked at Stevens. Ballsy. And made a “who me?” gesture, but innocence clearly wasn’t his forte. If sexuality could ooze off someone, this guy was constantly perspiring. He was one of those guys who was a little uncomfortable to look at.

My eyes narrowed. Actually, his posture, height, and hair were the same as the firesnake thief’s. He said four words and the others sputtered and began arguing again—with each other. He gave a slow smile, his hair hiding it from the others, but not from me in my viewing position. Dangerous.

Will Tasky

William (Will) Archenwald Tasky is a good-natured inventor and delinquent with gray eyes and dark hair. He wears glasses that contain enhanced capabilities.

Will has a specialized interest in Layer Shifts and transportation magic. Scientifically-minded and easy-going, Will is frequently in trouble because his experiments tend to go awry, and he doesn’t understand the concept of not continuing even when the earth starts to shake.

Will is Ren’s engineering soulmate, and they would likely destroy the world (on accident!) if left alone together for too long. Will is always up for mad schemes and science, and is a highly loyal friend. He is one of Ren’s closest confidantes. Unlike some of the other characters in the series, no one doubts Will’s motives.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #1: He looked my age, but I had never seen him at school. The jacket of his tailored suit was slightly askew, his gray eyes sharp. His dark hair and silver-rimmed glasses mirrored the black and silver of his pinstripes.

He looked terrified, but squared his shoulders, held out a device and made a sweeping motion with it over the black spot, as if he were scanning the space.

The boy’s face brightened. “I knew it. I knew one could work here. Ha. Suck it, Rational Engineers’ Club. The Department can suck it too.”

He cleared his throat and pushed a finger to the tablet. “On this day, I, William Archenwald Tasky, report that I have found traces of portal pad technology in the First Layer. Bookmark this report under Will Is Always Right.”

He looked smug as he quickly tucked his tablet into an inner pocket. “Suck it.”

his head, eyes agleam. “You aren’t in the system yet. Crap. We should have run from your parents and gone on a road trip. There are a thousand things I can’t collect here without using magic. Stinking museums and alarms. Why the devil did I call Dean Marsgrove?”

Nephthys Bau

Nephthys (Neph) Bau is a Terpsichore mage and Ren’s personal muse. She is physically beautiful, with warm brown eyes and hair.

Neph creates magic through dance and, along with the other members of the muse community, is peripherally influential on mages of all types who walk the halls of Excelsine. There are many who caution Ren on having a personal muse, but loving Neph as she does, Ren never does quite enough research to understand why.

Neph is ostracized by the muse community because of her family’s ties. Neph is too powerful for the community to ignore, though, and she still participates in all muse events on campus and in the Second Layer. There are many things that have yet to be explained about this side of the muse community and Neph’s life, but massive changes are brewing for the world…

Will and Neph are the core support system (and enablers) for Ren, and as such, they tend to be in the background instead of the foreground for large chunks of plot, but they are vital to Ren, and if something happened to them, all hell would break loose.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #1: There was a dream-like quality about her, conjuring visions of sand and veils. She smoothed a hand over her dark hair in a self-conscious way, and I realized she was the girl I had followed through the library earlier.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #2: Her dress whirled as she danced, and a beautiful shimmer of green shot out from it, blanketing the crowd. It was lovely, like a feeling of peace settling over the top of me. Calm and reassuring, and oh so Nephthys.

Mike Givens

Mike Givens is an easy-going and socially popular weather mage. He is athletic and has auburn hair and green eyes.

Mike is very protective of Will, his roommate, and takes Ren under his wing just as easily (they are “his” nerds). He gives Ren the idea to sell her pencils and make a profit. He is a loyal and steadfast friend and often the voice of reason.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #1: Sports came first for Mike, then girls, then food, then weather.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #2: “And sometimes a mage just gets a freaky skill at something. I can make it hail in a two-inch space at any velocity I desire. Can I make it snow without also causing a deluge of rain? Noooo. Stupid snow. Stupid rain.” He forked a piece of steak. “But I can outdo any fifth-year with precision hail.”

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #3: “If you have the talent, it is the best major on campus. Who else gets revenge by making rain clouds follow people around?”

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #4: Delia joined us at lunch every other day from then on, and Delia and Mike got on like crack partners on…crack. That they had never found each other before was almost sad. And Mike had taken to teasing her in a disturbingly flirty way.

Delia Peoples

Delia Peoples is a long time community service member with stitching and earth magic affinities. Dark bob with bangs, magically drawn black eyeliner, green eyes. Cleopatra-esque. Very fashionable.

Delia has a monitoring bracelet due to her continual misuse of suggestion enchantments.
She has Third Layer roots and is uneasy frenemies with most of the Second Layer Magicists. She hates Olivia at the beginning of the series, but grudgingly sees a different side of her over the course of events in the books.

Delia is a hardcore delinquent, always pushing at the boundaries of the Second Layer authorities who will never fully accept her family.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #1: A girl with short black hair and a distinct Erté vibe—sleek, stylish, and outrageous—that perfectly matched the architecture, stood behind a desk, looking down at a device and bopping along to some inner playlist. She looked to be about seventeen too and just as short as I was.

Ren Crown Characters + Quotes

The Adults

Raphael Verisetti

Raphael Immanuel Verisetti is the main antagonist of the series, but he is also frequently Ren’s ally and mentor, much to her dismay. Raphael has dark hair and gold eyes. He wears jewelry, most notably an ear cuff, that veils him from view and aids him in other more nefarious ways.

Raphael is a protection magic prodigy, and a gifted art mage. Posing as the substitute art teacher at Ren's high school, his abilities make it easy for him to tether Ren when she Awakens.

Raphael wants to destroy the Department and will do anything to obtain that goal. He has a very focused type of insanity and is very smart and motivated. He loves using chaos to achieve results, even though he is very strategically driven. Willing to burn the entire world in pursuit of his goals, Raphael is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people, and is #1 on the terrorist threat list in the Second Layer of the world.

Born in the Second Layer, he now works to sow chaos and destruction in it. He frequently does “favors” for the Third Layer terrorists and is more of a partner to them than a soldier.

Tortured past the point of sanity by the Department, even the terrorists are wary of crossing Raphael.

Raphael is insanely fond of Ren and thinks of her like a favored sibling/daughter. He has stated that he will mourn her death in the fulfillment of his plans. He frequently gives Ren gifts to aid her, but his gifts are almost always beneficial to his aims.

He has complicated relationships with a number of the other adults in the series, and has repeatedly told Ren to seek allies, not friends.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #1: “Miss Crown. Lovely work,” an accented, luxurious voice said from behind me. Mr. Verisetti’s long fingers placed a wrapped toffee next to my sketchbook. “Keep it up.”
I looked up at Mr. Verisetti, and the classroom lights caught on the small gold cuff around his upper ear, the only jewelry he wore besides a wide black band around his left wrist.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #2: He chuckled. It was warm and rich, gliding along the surface like everything he did. With his dark hair, smooth skin, and golden eyes, it was hard to guess his age. I thought thirties, but had heard all sorts of weird opinions from others—everything from being in his late teens to early fifties, as if he was whatever the person wanted him to be.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #3: He had helped me get through four horrible weeks of school. Had given me an outlet in art and a mentor who always seemed to know what I needed. All so he could use me when the time was right.
“I’m crushed, Butterfly. I didn’t betray you. I just subverted your will. Here, let me make it up to you. You are delighting me.”

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #4: “I’m a little possessive of my acquisitions, Butterfly. I am thinking of adopting you as the dark daughter I will never have.” He made a theatrical little gesture around his heart with the ornate box clenched in his palm. “You are so useful to have around.”

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #5: “Never. There are so few people around to surprise and intrigue me.” He smiled. “In fact, I have something to reward such bewitching gall. For such a lovely, dark treasure who is beginning to bloom.”

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #6: He smiled. It was a gorgeous smile. And in that moment, I knew that he somehow had. “But now is not the time for that. They are entirely the wrong questions for you to be asking. A chess master plots and plays other pieces, waiting for the perfect moment to deliver a checkmate.”

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #7: “Oh, Butterfly, yes. I look forward to it. We are linked, you and I. A chain that cannot be escaped. Our journey together is just beginning.”

Phillip Marsgrove

Phillip Marsgrove, Dean of Special Projects at Excelsine, is a main antagonist to Ren early in the series, but an ally to everyone on the “side of good.”

Marsgrove is a political force for Excelsine and the Second Layer, in general. A powerful combat mage, he is brutal on the field of battle and is a mage even the terrorists and the Department walk softly around.

Marsgrove has interests that frequently diverge from Ren’s. He has ties to the Dare family, the Price family, and Raphael Verisetti. Other ties come to light throughout the series.

Marsgrove has complicated relationships with most of the adults in the books.

Marsgrove views Ren as a threat, even when he helps her. He is an advocate for justice and peace, and he will do what the others cannot, if Ren falls to evil.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #1: A man dressed in pinstripes and glasses was running toward the doors of the school. He carried a clear aura of authority, even while sprinting, but no one looked at him as he passed. He reminded me of Mr. Verisetti in an indefinable way.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #2: I looked at Phillip Marsgrove, who was trying to appear relaxed even as his hand hovered near his pocket. Glasses and pinstripes were similar to Will’s, but his gray eyes were arctic. When he had first arrived and assessed me there had been horror and revulsion in his gaze. The same expression was there now.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #3: His nostrils flared, and his lips tightened together. “Use your finger and concentrate. Destruction should be easier than creation for you at this point.”
“What do you mean?” I asked sharply.
“Do it.” He looked scary all of a sudden. I could believe that this man might waste someone in a fight.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #4: Phillip Marsgrove and Raphael Verisetti had the same intent focus to their gaze. But whereas Mr. Verisetti looked upon me as if I were an adored pet, Phillip Marsgrove looked upon me as if I were the neighbor’s rabid dog that he needed to put down.

Lucille Stevens

Professor Lucille Stevens is the master professor of chemistry, materials, and chem-creations at Excelsine University.

Stevens is Ren’s mentor at school, as well as Constantine’s, and has complicated motivations for helping Ren. Stevens’ past directly impacts Ren’s present.

Stevens has complicated relationships with most of the adults in the books.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #1: Professor Stevens was a thirty-something, tall blonde with impossibly spiked heels, cheekbones that could cut glass, and a hairdo just this side of severe. The severity was echoed in every clipped stride. However, when she turned her head to look at something to her left, I could see the wisps of hair at her neck seeking escape. She was like a beautiful and dangerous natural creation by Constable—a veneer of painted perfection underscored by wildness. Thunderstorm clouds caged and leashed only by strict control. Perhaps Constable had known someone like Professor Stevens, and the mixed medium of weather was a representation of that woman.

Ganix Greyskull

Doctor Ganix Greyskull (Grey), is the head of Medical at Excelsine. He is covered in constantly shifting tattoos that he uses to heal and diagnose.

Greyskull has a complicated past with many of the adults in the series and his loyalties are split between factions. But he has made a binding vow to protect Excelsine and her students above any other loyalty.

He heals and aids Ren repeatedly, but is also honest about his split loyalties. He steadily helps her more than any other adult as the series advances.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #1: The man, whose face was unexpectedly more rugged than his voice, looked at me sharply, then ran a scanner over me. A blue beam slid across my vision.
I could see his tattoos moving along his skin, peeking over the collar of his coat as if peering at me before retreating again.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #2: A tattoo slithered down his arm and wrapped his pointer finger in dark coils that ended in a point at the tip. The tip touched my skin and the tattoo rotated forward, like a screw being drilled into my flesh. I could feel the magic, the familiar foreign energy searching and examining blocked pathways.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #3: I’d had an “older man, awesome, safety crush” on Doctor Greyskull since he’d gotten my Ewok reference when I’d been recovering from Death #1. I’d never questioned my instinctive liking of the man and how my magic hummed alongside his when he was fixing me.

Lieutenant Marcus Draeger

Lieutenant Marcus Draeger is Ren’s virtual guide from the “self-selecting” guide package she purchased at the bookstore. He is both a copy of the “real” Liuetenant Draeger and a learning AI tailored to Ren’s needs. He is available to Ren whenever she plugs his cartridge into an appropriate outlet. She usually accesses him in the practice rooms in the Kratos Battle Building where he schools her unmercifully. Ren wouldn’t trade him for anything.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #1: My subconscious chose a shaved-headed, big-chested, tree-trunk-legged, total hardass, who liked to wear seventies-styled workout shorts, one-size-too-small white t-shirts, and tall athletic socks. A guide who liked to shout dire warnings and weird animal curses.
Apparently, not only was I not Zen, but I was in need of magical boot camp.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #2: “As Marcus Draeger, I was brought into this world, ordinary-born, at the age of thirteen,” he barked. “And all those born mages were the enemy. I conquered them! You will call me Lieutenant Draeger, as I’m going to make a soldier out of you, Cadet Feral. You will not be squirrel meat! You will give those born-tos hell.”

The Department

The Department is both the legal and shadow organization that protects the entire Second Layer of the world. The Department answers to the Council of the Second Layer, which is made up of representatives and elected officials from the multitude of diverse governments of the Second Layer world, but the organization will also do what it “must” in protecting the citizens of the land against any threat, internal and external.

Helen Price

Helen Price, Second Layer Councilwoman, member of the Department. Helen is Olivia’s mother, who is anything but nurturing. Powerful and ruthless, she serves as one of the primary antagonists in the series, though she is usually pulling strings from afar.

CHARACTER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOKS #1: A woman in a posh living room sat with her ankles crossed and her posture perfect. She looked like a bird of prey that would launch at any moment…Her voice was as icy as the smile on her face.

Enton Stavros

Enton Stavros, the head of the Department, goes by the title Prestige Stavros. He has a fatherly demeanor but soulless eyes.

Mid-sixties during the books, he was mid-thirties and a rising star when Sergei Kinsky came under his control. His leadership has made the Second Layer strong, and though he is feared, he easily maintains power. He is not interested in the daily matters of government, and gives little reason for people to revolt against his stewardship of the Second Layer’s security. But when he wants something, he gets it. His only loss was to the Dares, who annihilated everyone allied against them twenty years ago, when Stavros was still consolidating power.

Stavros’ full abilities are unknown to the public, and he is usually seen as reclusive, as he leaves Department public relations to others. He never leaves the Department, but parasitically attaches himself to minions. This attachment is explained away as an enchantment, but it unsettles even the mages who believe the lie. The minions are frequently assassinated by those trying to kill him.

Stavros collects rare mages, is ruthless, and has dark plans that he means to realize through Ren.

Archelon Kaine

Archelon Kaine is the lone Shadow Mage in the Second Layer and a ruthless enforcer for the Department. He is Stavros’s pet and the head of the Praetorian Guard. His magic helps keep the Department shadowed and Stavros hidden.


Ren Crown

Second Layer Clock

Second Layer Clock

Second Layer Clock - made by Reader Elizabeth!

Second Layer Clock

Ren Crown

Deleted Scenes

Campus Hologram Description

Note: This is a section of text that was cut from the scene in The Awakening of Ren Crown where Will is showing Ren the hologram of campus. It became too long, and the beginning quarter of the book was dragging, so snip, snip it went!


The dragon curved around the mountain, as did the view in the enchanted glass. My smile grew. There were terraces built into the steeper sides and large fields took up space in carved out areas, with stands built into the hill.

Streets that went up, streets that went in, and streets that curved endlessly around. Markets, stalls, apartments, and little shops lined the sides, forming neighborhoods. There were skyscrapers and business districts, thatched houses and mud bricks.

People walked with books and bags, and were dressed in all sorts of ways. Every once in a while the hologram spell would freeze on a face or building and zip into a large still frame up in the corner, then list stats on the person or place. A proper brochure or recruitment video.

But even with the pop-ups, the dragon kept going, and with it, the view.

The campus was a giant city, a fortress, spiraling ever higher with layer upon layer of history, architecture, and the fantastic carved into its sides. My heart beat harder in my chest. It was something out of one of my dreams.

I swallowed. I couldn’t let my wants distract me. I had a concrete mission now.

I also realized that this elevated Academy was the backdrop for Mr. Verisetti’s prints. The notion made something in me itch.
Jets of light lit up a long, long field ahead, and as the dragon curved around and over it, I could see students fiercely battling.

They were using staffs and rods, or throwing marbles and other odd objects. One boy was only using his hands, untouchable in the middle of the field, familiar ultramarine blue eyes barely sparing a cold glance at the next challenger in front of him, nor the one sneaking up at his back.

Lights shot from his palms and fingertips as his arms performed a deadly dance.

A little frame appeared in the corner with his picture, a number of weapons, including a staff, and a lot of text. I couldn’t concentrate and read it, though, through the pumping of my heart in my ears. I stared at the hue of his eyes and watched him annihilate everyone around him.

I had no memory of his face, but I knew those eyes.

I knew him.

Top Quad Description

Note: Similarly to the other description of campus, this scene was going on for too long (and had a different entry point from what made it to the final draft!). This section occurred once Ren arrived on campus.


Over my stack of now irreparably shuffled documents, I carefully examined the buildings around Top Quad as I walked.

There were nine arrayed closely together in a myriad of styles. Cobblestone streets and paved streets alternately wove between them, along with one street which was made entirely of what looked like glass. Each of the buildings had a different architecture style. Modern, Art Deco, Classic, Gothic, New Age, Medieval. Spires in Gaudi-like style, castle turrets, square glass structures, a stone fortress.

I walked the street of glass, trying to peer down—and to the sides of my papers—to see if it was truly glass. Emerging from the glass alley, there was a section of land that contained nothing but a short wall. And the view beyond…. Oh, the view.

The mountain was awe-inspiringly huge. Three thousand feet high, at least, with circle upon circle of buildings and development stretching down its sides. If the Tower of Babel existed, surely this strange enchanted fortress was it?

“Christian.” I closed my eyes. “Why am I here without you?”

I breathed in a deep gulp of air as I continued my path down the mountain. A fortress without altitude sickness. The air was fresh and clean. A large river circled the base of the mountain, and flat plains and towns stretched out for miles beyond. I could see clouds surrounding mountain tops in the distance, but none lingered here, making the view utterly unspoiled and fantastic.

Sans map, I didn’t know exactly where my dorm was located, but I could see Dormitory Circle, even from way up here. It stretched around the entire circumference of the fifth circle of the mountain. I just had to keep working my way down.

It was a long, long way. Each circle was a hugely wide and mostly flat plane, then steep steps would cut down to the next level. The whole way, I encountered only three other students using the stairs. Which meant there were easier methods of transportation available.

Ren’s Initial Class Schedule

Fun note — this schedule was in a very early draft that did not include her sneaking onto campus (some day I’ll have to post how that changed and about everything that got modified during the overhaul!). Bootcamp was taught by a flesh-and-blood Lieutenant Draeger in this early version of drafting. 🙂


An hour later, my fingers ached from all the things I’d had to sign in ink, blood, and magic. I was now loaded down with a giant eighteen inch high stack of informational packets, contracts and agreements, an orientation appointment two days hence, and a class schedule for the next four weeks.

  • Adviser—Professor Stevens, Chemistry and Compounds, professorial housing, 33 West Owensby, Thirty-third Circle
  • Bootcamp—Lieutenant Draeger, 2nd Compound, Ellery Square
  • Individualized Project—Professor Stevens, 52 Neb Cross, Sixth Circle
  • Layer History 101 (audit only)—Professor Ling
  • Ordinary vs. Extraordinary (audit only)—Professor Suttikul

Librarian and Assistantship

Note: Like the class schedule, in the initial writing of the first half of Book 1, things looked a bit different. Ren was on campus legally, hidden by Marsgrove (wait until I get those snippets up for some topsy-turvydom!), and helped by some of the adults. All of that obviously changed during the writing, but I thought you might enjoy reading a snippet from an alternate-Ren-reality, written long before the book was completed. I have pages upon pages of helpful Mrs. Huxford, the librarian, who offers Ren a job in the library — but who was lost in edits by the time I finished, and only makes unnamed appearances in the books now (but who still survives in my mind!). You can see how some things morphed but survived the process, though, like the five card disks and the notice board.

She withdrew the five card disks, which had helpful titles and a small cover picture printed on each. “Interesting choices.”

I blushed. “I just picked them at random. I was curious.”

She tapped them and considered me. “Would you like a library tour? There are four floors, but if you aren’t shown how to access the upper levels, it can be hard to figure out.”

I swallowed the sudden rush of love for another human being. “Yes, please. I would love that, thank you, Mrs. Huxford.” The words approached fervent.

The assistantship that almost was…


A piece of paper with the letters “libr” caught my eye. It had obviously been there for a while, since other notices had crept over the edges.

I lifted it out to discover an ad for a fourth floor library assistant on a paper that had seen better days. The text was decently unexciting, indicating that the job paid peanuts, but someone had tried to spice it up by adding in glorious benefits such as “study as you earn” and “gain library secrets” and “know the secret stacks!”

I could use a few peanuts. I was going to need to purchase a number of magical substances. There was only so far I could go with my stash of babysitting cash.

I plucked the notice from the board and rubbed it between my fingers. Fourth floor assistant? Maybe the reason the position was still available was because no one could find a way up there to apply. I stuck the paper in my back pocket, copied down the text about the Art Expressionists’ meeting, and decided to try a search wall.

I needed book access when no one was watching, and I needed money.

I dug the library paper out of my stash box, then found Mrs. Huxford in the library. “Have you filled this position?”

Mrs. Huxford’s eyes lit up. “No. Are you interested? We could dearly use the help, and it is an excellent way to learn the fourth floor intimately.”

That was what I was counting on. “I am very interested.”

“Perfect!” She examined me warmly. “And perhaps you might help me update things around here. Make the library more new-user friendly? And there are plenty of old magic users who set foot in a library only once a year. It would benefit all.”


Spend time in the library? Gain library secrets? Talk to someone who was willing to tell me things? Absolutely.

“Great. Can you come by next Thursday at Capricorn Rising?”

I’d have to figure out what time Capricorn Rising actually was, but I nodded. I had about two dozen side projects, but a part time job…it would provide some money. And a job that would facilitate everything else?


Note: Let’s just end it there and say there is a good chance you may see a magical library adventure from me some day. 😉

Garnet Norrissing – deleted scene

Note: Garnet Norrissing was one of those characters that popped fully formed into my head — and I have a LOT of dialogue snippets about her from other characters (especially the delinquents). Ultimately, I couldn’t justify including her in Protection, which was already chock full of new characters, and it didn’t really work to introduce her after that. Still, I have a soft spot for Garnet and wish I could have told her tale.

Here is an eavesdropping scene where Ren is watching and listening to Bellacia trying to get information on Ren. I tried really hard to include the scene in The Protection of Ren Crown, because it had a number of hints to other things and it humanized Inessa (who is rather one note on the page, since she really hates Ren and the only time we see her is when Ren is around).

You might recognize what Garnet was trying to warn Will about. 😉


The girl was…odd. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, but her eyes were too wide, making her pupils too small, and slightly unfocused.

“Garnet,” Bellacia said, pulling the girl’s unfocused attention to her.

“Brought in the midday’s night. An army of dragons. Tartarus alight.”

Bellacia’s lips tightened in a smile. “What do you see of the girl?”

“Connected by fire. By copper and gold. Death’s long bier.” The girl looked toward my bushes, her unfocused gaze not making contact with mine, but I felt as if she was looking at me all the same.

“The sickly green casts shade. It hurts me. And all those made.”
Inessa put an arm around her, hugging her close and touching the girl’s cuff. “Shhh…I’ll take you back to your room.”

Bellacia put a hand on Inessa’s arm. “We need her.”

Inessa shook her off. “No. You can try again later if she is feeling up to it.”

I didn’t make an everyday study of their table, but ever since my introduction to Bellacia, I occasionally watched their interactions in the cafeteria. It was the first time I had seen Inessa naysay Bellacia in any way. Inessa usually had a fawning, sycophantic expression to her face when she looked upon their group’s leader.

Escaping, I asked Olivia, Will, and Neph about the girl with the strange eyes when I finally made it to Okai.

“Garnet Norrissing,” Olivia said tightly. “Inessa Norrissing’s sister. Certifiably insane.”

Will poked the side of his head. “Did too much tampering with frequencies a couple years back. She was brilliant with them—she was a named user on the hack market at thirteen. Helped make hot swapping what it is today—swapping out one frequency app for another while keeping brain activity normal. Wish I had met her then. But she tried to hot swap too many.”

His head poke became a finger loop. “She’s not all there now. The incident caused a huge flurry of government restrictions to be put into place so it doesn’t happen again.”

“I know of whom you speak,” Neph said softly. “She has strange patterns in her magic. We sometimes have that happen in our community as well when someone breaks internal walls that should not be broken.”

“Rumor has it that she can see magic clearly and make predictions based on the connections she sees.” Will shrugged and his finger looped again. “And at other times, fruit loop city.”

“Will,” Neph chided.

“She stopped me last term and told me that I had to beware the stick man, Neph.” Will shook his head. “She was very earnest about it, and nice, so I thanked her and helped her back to her dorm.”

I swallowed. Stick man? My anxiety increased.

“They keep her cuffed up tighter than an Ori—than a Port Mage.”

“Cuffed? But she makes predictions?”

“Not real predictions, more like she issues warnings or gives overlooked information. One of the underground papers explained it as she sees a lot of information all at once. Like the red streaming room—-but coming down her feeds continuously. And sometimes she assimilates information together that wouldn’t make sense otherwise. But streaming isn’t like reading a book. It’s hard to put pushed information like that into words. It either assimilates in your mind to form a coalesced picture or it blasts by.”

I thought of the red streaming room. It was awesomely useful, but no way would I want to experience that every moment of my day. No wonder her eyes were so far from lucid.

“They cuff her frequencies, but it’s like…I don’t know, looking at a drug addict in withdrawal all the time.”

“Inessa is extremely protective,” I said.

Neph nodded. “It’s a good quality.”

“If you count being protective as a good quality, then it is her singular one,” Olivia said tightly.


I started seeing Garnet Norrissing everywhere. Baden-Meinhof style, now that I was aware of her, I saw her all over campus.

Guard Rock: Sock Eater

Note: Guard Rock became a bit too dignified for this representation, but I always found the image amusing. 😉


Guard Rock was rifling through my sock drawer again. He had eaten six socks already—unfortunately, he didn’t like to eat pairs, so I now had six socks without matches.

Shelle Fanning finds her limit (spoilers)

Spoilers for Book Five!

Originally, in order to find out about Omega Genesis, the Basement, etc., there was going to be a huge search through Department facilities and homes.

Shelle Fanning, the Department Press Secretary who Ren observed in Book 4 as seeming to be for the “good,” discovered more than she was comfortable with. I wanted to show that not everyone was evil in the Department. This is the start of that would-be scene.


I froze.

Shelle Fanning was sitting at her desk. Half the light shaded her face.

“I serve the Second Layer.” Her hand moved to a small stack of papers and she briefly closed her eyes. “I serve the Second Layer.”

She got up and walked stiffly to the door, then slipped through, not making eye contact.

What the ever-loving—?

I exchanged a loaded glance with Olivia. Then walked to the stack.

Watch for booby traps. Booby traps. There was a snicker.

Not now, Patrick! Ren, watch—

I know. What, we think she is just handing the Department over?

Heroes and Villains #1 (spoilers)

Spoilers for Book Five!

This is a scene snippet that didn’t make the final text. You probably don’t need character labels to figure out who is speaking! The break between snippets would have been filled in had it made the text.


“I don’t want to be a hero. Or a villain. Heroes and villains are media titles. Labels that are affixed according to actions deemed as such by others.” I had seen Bellacia do it too many times to drive emotional sway. Because it worked. “I want to know what is right without someone telling me that it is. I want to make decisions that might not be popular now, but that will be looked upon in 20 or 30 years as good, as common sense. Maybe not popular, but right.”

I stared at the wall. “I can’t care if I’m the villain. Flavel Valeris was the villain. And that outlook hasn’t changed in 70 years—-he did not pass the test. But I can look on his actions and see the flaws. I can see where he…” I looked at the container. At the undeniable magic circling inside of it. “I know where he went wrong. And it’s easy. It’s easy to go wrong. It’s easier to go wrong than to go right. And it’s easy to do nothing. To be only concerned with oneself. It’s just as easy to do nothing as to do wrong. And what does that say? What does that say about the path I’m supposed to walk?”

“That it will be hard.”

“That it will be hard.” I firmed my fists and looked at him. “But it will be closer to what’s right. And eventually, it will make it easy for others in the future. Hard now, easy later. Insanity now, common sense later.”

“You don’t owe anyone anything, darling.”

“Maybe I owe it to myself. To do what’s hard. To do what’s right,” I said softly.

Heroes and Villains #2 (spoilers)

Spoilers for Book Five!
Snippet #2


“I’m a villain, darling.”

“Maybe they just printed your label wrong.”

He snorted. “Hardly.” He pulled his feet from the desk. “Let’s go save the world.”

“You don’t owe anyone anything either, Constantine.”

He looked at me, free of the veil of hair he sometimes used as a shield, and I could feel everything flowing between us like it was written across his face. “Maybe I owe it to myself, then.”

I smiled and let it all flow back. “Let’s go.”

Alternate Scene: Getting to the Second Layer

Note: This was how Ren got to the Second Layer in an old draft of Book One. It was slowing down an already slow section of the book, though, so it had to go.

Plus, I needed a few nested written bits that couldn’t be included in this type of scene. Still, this type of inherent silliness was an integral part of the first drafts I wrote for Book One before things got more serious, so I thought I’d share one of those bits here. 🙂


Marsgrove handed me a piece of paper. “Do what I told you, quickly, and don’t speak to anyone.”

I needed to press down twenty-three times on the handle of the bathroom soap dispenser to obtain a magic traveling elixir. It left me wondering if people accidentally got transported to other dimensions all the time when soap dispensers had only that last wee bit of soap left that you had to frantically pump to get out.

I looked at the paper he had given me. Second Layer was crisply written on it. I tried to follow him into the bathroom.

“What the devil are you doing? Use yours,” he hissed.

I backed up, cheeks flaming, and pushed open the door adorned with a stick figure wearing a dress. I had been in the bathroom several times before, and despite the serial need for more toilet paper, the space was reasonably clean, and utilitarian with its three stalls and two sinks. No one was present, thank God. I should probably hurry up with this whole craziness, before someone came in and carted me off. I took the piece of paper and placed it on my palm, then observed my choices. There were two soap dispensers. Did it matter?

I chose the dispenser on the right. My hand hovered over it for a few long moments, then I started pumping.

It cannot be undersold that twenty-three pumps of anything is a lot. I was on pump twenty-two, when I grudgingly admitted that perhaps someone sane wouldn’t try for twenty-three. They must go through a terrible amount of soap in this place. No wonder they were always out. That didn’t explain the lack of toilet paper though…I cast a suspicious glance at the stalls.

I had no idea if I was supposed to hold my hand under the pump the entire time. The little piece of paper in my hand with the address was now drenched and soap was dripping from my cupped hand. What if the text blurred and sent me somewhere else? But it was too late to redo things. I didn’t know if the paper was part of the magic, and I had already made the decision to hold the soap as it fell — it had seemed a waste and awfully messy to let the first twenty pumps just fall onto the counter. And what if all that liquid soap was needed in order to coat the magic?

When the twenty-third pump fell, my hand was overflowing with liquid soap and my heart was beating far too quickly.

The dispenser turned purple, the magic soap fell into my hand, then promptly covered the whole thing and worked up my arm, covering my torso, then racing toward the floor. The coating hit my feet and the air shimmered.

I looked around. My hand was full of soap. Would washing it off plunge me into an abyss of doom? What the hell?

Christian would have had far more eloquent swear words. The thought of him pushed me forward. I was obviously in the same place. Three stalls, two sinks, subway tile. I exited to the hall. Maybe I really was crazy.

“Crown, what the devil are you hold—”

Marsgrove, hands free of soap, went pink with sudden realization. He removed a pen from his shirt and pointed it at my hand. The soap flew out of my hand and into the pen’s tip. He clicked the top, then stuck it back in his pocket. He closed his eyes and sighed.

I took that to mean I didn’t have to hold a handful of soap in the future. Maybe it all sucked back into the dispenser somehow? If so, I had just robbed the coffeehouse of twenty-two pumps.

Axer Arrives Earlier

Note: For a little while in the writing process, Axer arrived before everything went crazy. This was a possibility for his entrance.


“What are you doing here? You need to leave.”

I was beginning to sound like a broken record.

He smiled faintly, poking the wards. “I’m in Medical right now. Or, at least, my body is.”

I frowned. “No way Stavros believes that.”

“It doesn’t matter what Stavros believes. It matters that he can’t do anything because my body is in Medical.”

“And where is Ramirez’s body?”

“Probably with Camille,” he said easily.

I frowned. “He can keep that up?”

“The illusion was only necessary for a few hours. Your trusted sidekick will make certain no one investigates too closely.”

“Did you just call Greyskull a sidekick? He will murder you in your sleep.”

“Healers are predictable. They always go for the heart,” he said with a smile.

I had a feeling Grey would go for a far different body part first, though. Stavros better hope they never met.

Dialogue with Third Layer Councilwoman (spoilers)

*Spoilers for The Destiny of Ren Crown*

This was a scene that went with the other Third Layer elements that didn’t make it into the book (I had SO MUCH plot I didn’t use – entire threads of plot… I’ll see if it makes sense to try and string a few threads together for the site).

This scene was scheduled to go in, or after, Chapter Twenty-nine in Book Five. But things were moving too quickly in the book for it to be included by the time I got there, and I had skipped past the need for the dialogue (and Ren’s emotional barometer wasn’t right for it anymore), so it was cut. I still mourned for a few things that I wished could be included though, so this is a good scene for the site


I was in a cell.

I laughed until I cried when I realized where I had sent myself.
Dragging myself from the floor of the cell, I shuffled over to the door and pulled open the last empty unit in the block.

I looked to my right.

Liam was whipping his hands around like a conductor of a grand symphony, music pouring from his fingertips. He looked over at me, startled, then waved a jolly wave.

My hand went to my mouth, tears on my face.

“His Awakening is over, his discovery nearly complete. He will be released soon.”

I turned to see the councilwoman from the Western Territories – the woman who had lived in the Golden City before the Breaking – standing near the console. She stepped toward me, looking far older in the face than the seventy-nine years she had claimed, but walking with the purpose of someone half as young.

“You doubt,” she said.

I curled my fingers together. “Yes.”

What good was my power when I kept losing all those around me. When I couldn’t protect those I held dear.

I laughed bitterly. “You asked me how I was going to save myself? Well, I seem quite able to save myself. Just no one else.”

She said nothing for a moment. “Is that how you took my words?” Sadness turned her mouth. “No, Child. It is not your life that I cautioned you to save.”

I turned to look at the Awakening mages, all happily using their talents, embracing their powers, controlling their elements.
“Everyone keeps telling me I’m going to blow up. I heard you say it to Frost Viper, too.”

“Yes. Origin Mages do tend to that unfortunate end. And they sometimes take others with them when they go.”

Immense sadness tightened her features. I ached for her. How many people had she lost in the Breaking? Her whole world, except for whoever had traveled with her to the funeral that had caused her absence from the

“But my words to you, no, that is the least of the fear.”

I stared at her. “The least of the fear is that I blow a layer, kill millions—billions—of people?”

She sighed. “You think so big. Do you ever think small?”

I thought of Christian. Of saving just one person. “Yes.”

She eyed me. “And yet you still think big about it.”

“No, I just wanted to resurrect one person. Just bring one back from the dead.”

“Overturning death. Changing the fabric of magic’s rules. Such a small thing.”

I closed my eyes. “Okay. No, then. I don’t think small.”
Everything could always be more. Pencils turned into entire art packages. Protection wards turned into impenetrable cells.
I liked to take everything and dive into the deepest recesses of it that I could. To learn everything and make whatever I was doing ALL it could be.

She smiled sadly. “Origin Mages don’t desire power in the way
that many humans desire power. They don’t want to rule or be worshiped.
But they do want to build. To create. To explore. And this
carries with it its own set of consequences. For a mind can be tricked into thinking that it’s doing the work of good, when it is doing the work of desire.”

“Don’t desire,” I said tiredly, watching Liam create a new symphony. “Got it.”

“No, child. Desire is not a bad thing. It’s always what you do with your talents that will label them positive or negative. A greedy person can make certain that everyone else also has access to abundance, allowing the person to collect all that they want without consequence. An
egotistical person can set up a system whereby they do good works and are rewarded. You don’t need to change you. You only have to choose how
you will affect the world.”

“So, create, but don’t blow up the world.”

She sighed. “Create, but understand why you are doing a particular project when it comes to a global scale. Understand what is behind it. Don’t do it just because it is interesting. Do it because it has merit and a good basis.”

I licked my lips. I did that. I gravitated toward interesting things without giving it too much thought. Everything was just so easy sometimes.

She nodded sadly, as if she’d read my mind. “And that is where an Origin Mage must struggle. You must continuously ask yourself why. You must be skeptical of every reason for doing a project. You must investigate.”

I thought about it. The future. A future where I had to do a ten-step plan before trying anything.

She stepped forward and wrapped her hands around mine. “Child, you do not have to hole yourself up in such decisions for everything. But you must
recognize the difference between a fun project with your friends, and something that affects the lives and magic of millions of people. There is a difference, and you must treat it as such.”

Heaviness descended in my midsection, like poison in my gut. Shame.

“Okay,” I whispered.

“That you feel the consequences makes you human. That you live within consequences makes you more.”

The Scepter Series





Ameni Tribe: a tribe of renowned horsemasters to which Taline was born.

beldrake: a type of dragon.

blessed child of the emperor: an imperial child, who
is blessed by the emperor in a ceremony that bestows upon them the
ability to control imperial oaths. Imperial children given this
designation may also be selected to serve as padifehl of an imperial
territory someday. The blessing ceremony takes place when the emperor
deems it time—usually when a powerful child has come into their powers,
generally upon an Awakening from age 10-17. Children, like Kaveh ul
Fehl, who come into their powers at an early age and show rare amounts
of power or extraordinary gifts are blessed at a very young age and are
raised accordingly. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of imperial
children residing in the imperial palace and living in far-flung streets
and lands, but the honor of being “blessed” means something far more
elite and powerful. The emperor has been decreasing the number of
blessing ceremonies and increasing the requirements as more and more of
his children are born with great power. The order of blessing does not
correspond to the age of the child or their power, it is simply the
order in which a child was blessed.

Chrimoa: an elite crafter of decorative glass and ceramic pieces.

coriolen: a being related to banshees that can produce a high-pitched shrieking sound.

crouel: a person with little or no magic.

croupa: a sickness not unlike croup.

farhani: a necklace worn in imperial territories
that signifies a magi’s power level and has the magi’s imperial fealty
oaths embedded within. The investigorii can use the oaths to detain
individuals in their territories for questioning.

fehlta, fehltan: a unit of currency
used across the empire. Prior to its use, “measures” were used: five
measures, three half measures, two quarter measures. Fehlta are similar
to the Magahda coins used in ancient India. In the Fehl Empire, there
are 5 magi coinmasters keyed to the treasury whose responsibility is to
create the coins using personal, magical stamps. When a coinmaster dies
or retires, another is keyed to take his place. The five stamped
signatures have to be correct for the coin to be legitimate.
Counterfeiting coins is extremely difficult and punishable by death.

gate medallion: an object which has been imprinted
with coordinates to transport a person to a specific place and contains a
one-time activation. They are incredibly rare and expensive because
they can only be created by a gatemaker or gate relic.

gatekeeper: a magi who cares for and repairs already
created gates, and who is able to switch internally embedded
coordinates to open through other created gates (connecting already
created gates together). A rare ability.

gatemaker: a magi who creates ripgates and who is
capable of tethering ripgates to physical objects and locations—making
an arch or object with an open interior into a semi-permanent gate
between two places. An extremely rare and coveted ability. See also: ripgate

imperial names: names given tocitizens of the
empire. The census requires all magi in the empire to receive
designations based on the following name scheme: First Name al Power Level el Occupation il Birth City ol Oath Temple ul Family Name. These get shortened in informal use to First name ul Family Name.

Example formal: Ninli al Six el Healer il Tehras ol Gomen ul Summora

Example informal: Ninli ul Summora

For people living outside of the empire, individual society naming schemes prevail.

imperial professional titles: the professional
designation that precedes one’s imperial name. Professional titles
eschew many of the imperial naming scheme elements brought by the
census. Title + Family Name is most often used. If there is more than
one person of the same profession with the same family name in the room,
the power level is given in the middle. The first name would be added
as well if the power level is also the same.


Healer Summora

Healer Six Summora and Healer Four Summora

Healer Ninli Six Summora

investigore: head of the law enforcement, similar to a director. Investigore Malik ul Malit when formally addressed.

investigorii: a law enforcement unit or an individual officer (singular and plural).

imperator: title for the head of an army unit.

karogi tiles: tiles used in karogi (a game).

khursifa (khursifas): a spell-woven
conveyance mat that can connect and use wind enchantments in a city and
through its own woven magic. A type of flying carpet. Under the hands
and skills of a specialist, they can be made to do wondrous things as a
mode of transportation.

Kore: a fictional, powerful eastern dynasty.

layer, layers, layer split: The split of one world
into five, each duplicate existing on top of the next. Three creation
magi (worldchangers) working together split the Earth into five
identical layers of land. Four layers have magic, while one layer
(sometimes referred to as “the first”) is without. This first layer
contains all the humans and creatures born without magic and is
protected from the magical worlds by ruthless groups of devout magi. See also: pentalayerists.
The Fourth Layer was created specifically for beasts, creatures, and
hybrid beings and is sometimes referred to as “the land of the beasts.”
Five layers of the same world, existing each on top of the next. Four
steady layers and one of chaos—not fully settled during the event that
produced them. One of no magic, two of plenty, one of beasts and power,
one of chaos.

magi: a user of magic.

mancaleh: a classic board game, sometimes referred to as mancala.

majex (imperial majex): the wife of the emperor. The high imperial majex is the ruling wife.

mūdû: a type of magi who can tell the power, acquisition, and talents of others. It means “wise” in Akkadian.

narsumina: a pet name Rone calls Taline (used in
much the way someone would call another “princess”). The reference is to
the beautiful, vestal temple attendants of Narsum, the god of beauty,
youth, age, and time.

padifehl: the leader of an imperial territory, usually a child of the emperor.

palmera: a palm spring drink that is highly intoxicating.

pentalayerists: a group who seek to protect and
preserve the layers as they were designed. This includes protecting the
non-magic world from magical influence. Their goal is to eradicate magi
and relics that can open gates between layers. As a precautionary
measure, and if given the opportunity, they will also destroy any relic or magi deemed too powerful, who may disrupt the status quo.

Polingsa Manuscripts: manuscripts and scrolls that
contain powerful spells created and kept by the Polingsa family. Qara ul
Polingsa encourages Nin to steal them so that they can be added to the
library for the masses, while still giving Qara a reasoned voice among
the elite.

revenant: one of the undead.

ripgate: a temporary gate created by a gatemaker or relic. It is different from a gate, which is a permanent or semi-permanent fixture.

sandrake: a type of sand dragon.

sandpronga: a large worm-like sand creature with immense teeth.

Sanskrine: modified Sanskrit

scholari: the head of knowledge or science in an imperial territory.

scepter chamber: a curved chamber at the heart of
the Palace of Tehras that holds the twelve scepters of Tehras. Four per
“wall” in the curved chamber.

shadowshaper: one who can use and craft shadows to
enhance sensory perception and who can control shadows by pushing their
own sensory output through them. A shadowshaper can connect their senses
through a shadow to affect whatever the shadow is touching. In this
way, shadows become extended limbs of the shadowshaper and are able to
do whatever a regular limb can. A thousand shadows could become a
thousand separate swords when wielded by a magi whose mind is able to
control a thousand different limbs at once. Only two shadowshapers are
known to exist. Neither is fully human. It is speculated that a regular
human mind is incapable of wielding as many separate entities as
shadowshapers have been observed to wield.

sirens, nerens, potamens: beings of the waters

slenterfasi: a slur

stormbrewer: a magi who controls storms.

string: a signature, the feel of a person’s magic—how one magi sensitive to it can identify another.

sunmaker, sunchaser, suncatcher, suntaker: a magi who manipulates sunlight or light for specific civic tasks (enforcement, agriculture, leisure, etc.).

Swee: a fictional, powerful northern dynasty.

windcatcher, windmaker, windchaser, windtaker: a
magi who manipulates the winds for specific civic tasks (chasing people
using wind spells, crafting directional breezes for city travel, routing
weather for agricultural means, etc.).


PLACES (story + modern equivalents)

Anarta: a region of ancient India.

Ancyra: the Latin form of Ankara, Turkey.

Antequere: Antequera Dolmens Site in the province of Málaga.

Assaka: a kingdom of ancient India.

Axšaina Sea: the Black Sea.

Babil: Babylon.

Bekli: Göbekli Tepe.

Bilbat: an ancient Sumerian city.

Caire: a district in Tehras noted for gambling.

Campistel: a fictional setting where the Spread of Verdis occurs.

Casp Sea: the Caspian Sea.

Dernholm: the fictional city where Rone and Oralia lived in exile.

Dozine: a fictional place set in ancient Syria.

Ersine: the Continent of Africa.

Fehlaka: the imperial capital. Modern day Failaka Island, Kuwait.

Gerod: a fictional place where the Festival of Marsk is held.

Idiqlat: the Tigris River in Sumerian/Akkadian.

Kailāsa: Mount Kailash in Sanskrit.

Kastoni: a fictional place set in Jordan.

Kiš: Kish, an ancient city in Sumer.

Krokola: Karachi, Pakistan.

Lisso: Lisbon, Portugal.

Magadha: a kingdom of ancient India.

Memfi: Memphis, Egypt.

Purattu: the Euphrates River in Akkadian.

Sarg: a fictional place set in northern Oman.

Tehras: the capital city of Tehrasi. Roughly Tehran, Iran.

Tehrasi: a province of the Fehl Empire that approximates modern day Iran.

Temple of the Scepter: a Second Layer temple that
contains three chambers—the key chamber, the lock chamber, and the
antechamber. The antechamber contains a gate to the scepter’s actual
location in the First Layer. The temple is located in the Caspian
Hyrcanian Mixed Forests in northern Iran on the southern border of the
Caspian Sea. But the scepter itself is in India. The temple gate did not
just go through layers, but across them as well, in order to conceal
the hiding place.

Telb Mountains: Alborz Mountain Range.

Ur: an ancient city in Sumer.

Uruk: an ancient city in Sumer.



Ninli ul Summora, Ninli, Nin: (age 19)healer and
thief, gatemaker. Incredibly powerful magically and physically gifted in
movement. Is unable to read (pure alexia) due to brain trauma at age 9.

Taline ul Summora, Tal, Tali: (age 20)healer and
thief, spellcrafter. Highly intelligent with an excellent memory, but
magically weak due to repeated stripping of her abilities when younger.
Can recreate the bases and glyphs for spells she sees even a single time
but is unable to power them.

Rone ul Valeran: (age 21)relic hunter, gambler, and
trickster. The bastard son of two magically gifted lines, Valeran and
Fehl. He is blessed/cursed with a distinctive hair color that cannot be
magically or physically altered.

Kaveh ul Fehl: (age 22)thirteenth “blessed” child of
the emperor, head of all imperial armies, and the emperor’s favorite. A
shadowshaper who is undefeated in battle, he answers only to the
emperor and has ties to no other. He is known as the Shadow Prince,
Imperator General, Imperator General of the Empire, Terror of the
Battlefront, Nightmare of the Empire, and He Who Has Never Failed.

Ifret: corporeal creature of shadow, companion to Kaveh.

Sher Fehl: (age 52) emperor, The Fehl, Great Fehl, Emperor of All He Touches.

Nera ul Fehl: (age 48) High Imperial Majex, favorite wife of the emperor. Born Nera Erias.

Aros ul Fehl: (age 32) first born of Nera, first blessed child of the emperor, no current territory.

Etelian ul Fehl: (age 31) Padifehl of Tehrasi, second born of Nera, second blessed child.

Carsue ul Fehl: (age 30) Padifehl of Moru, sixth blessed child

Shiera ul Fehl: (age 30) Padifehl of Cuipsin, eighth blessed child, beloved by her country.

Zorus ul Fehl: (age 30) Padifehl of Kemet, ninth blessed child

Urful ul Fehl: (age 30) Padifehl of Shoune, twelfth blessed child

Rayd ul Fehl: (age 28) Padifehl of Bahra, third born of Nera, eleventh blessed child

Baksis ul Fehl: (age 27) imperial prince, twentieth blessed child, no current territory.

Simin ul Fehl: (age 26) imperial prince, eighteenth blessed child, no current territory.

Voiya ul Fehl: (age 24) Padifehl of Fehla-da, fourth born of Nera, fourteenth blessed child.

Omari ul Fehl: (age 11) Padifehl To Be of Cuipsin, hundredth blessed child.

Namir ul Mero: (age 24) Personal Guard of Omari, distant cousin to the Queen of Kush.

Akel: a fifteen-year-old boy who becomes the head of Ninli’s “ducklings.” Akel is a budding spymaster.

Barrinis: a deceased family line of gatekeepers and gatemakers.

Ber ul Hon of the First Guard: the investigator into Shirsk and Siru ul Teg’s death.

Birsa: a “seeker” whose enslavement bonds to
treasure hunters was broken by Ninli. Birsa has been living in First
Layer India for the past two years. She has been given the name
“Luriandur—Devotional of Sea and Storm” in her new community.

Bilen Osni: Crelu ul Osni’s son, Bilen was leading a
revolution to upset the Carre Dynasty due to Jisarek’s increasingly
dangerous actions. Crelu ul Osni was forced to execute Bilen in order to
prove his own loyalty.

Crelu ul Osni: Scholari of Tehrasi, worked for and betrayed the Carre Family; now rules Tehrasi from the shadows and hunts scepter lore.

Farrah Osni: Crelu ul Osni’s deceased wife, and Ninli’s tutor and primary maternal influence.

Kūruš: Cyrus the Great

Goran, First General Goran: one of Kaveh’s generals on the battlefront

Gursuf Sule: a villain from Rone’s past.

Heba: a master of courtly enchantment, makeup, and
dress, and a loyal handmaiden to Ninli. Heba was the handmaiden who wore
Zehra Amanan Carre’s face when the Carres were killed.

Irsula of Denz: Night Terror of the Land of
Darkness, Mistress of Shadows; mother of Kaveh ul Fehl. Born to Darkness
and a human woman, she is half-human. Imprisoned, and with no oaths
taken, she has no imperial census designation and no surname. Denz is
the place of her birth.

Larit ul Polingsa: bondmate of Qara ul Polingsa, healer.

Malik ul Malit: Investigore of Tehrasi. Head of the investigorii—the law enforcement branch of Tehras.

Oralia Valeran: Rone ul Valeran’s mother

Pikerens: the family that Oralia Valeran married into after abandoning Rone.

Qara ul Polingsa: an elite of Tehras, politician.

Reyi: a loyal handmaiden to Ninli who was killed in the Carre massacre.

Siran Bey: Taline’s birth name.

Siru ul Teg: The First General in charge of the northern section of the front in Kaveh’s absence. He was the lead point on Shirsk.

Sora: a loyal handmaiden to Ninli who was killed by Lorsali.

Carre Family (in order of age):

Giran Carre: former King of Tehrasi.

Jisarek Carre: brother of Giran, kidnapper of Nera ul Fehl.

Salare Carre: former Queen of Tehrasi.

Savvan Carre: former crown prince.

Lorsali Carre: former first princess.

Fein Carre: former prince.

Allit Carre: former prince.

Memni Carre: former prince.

Jolan Carre: former prince.

Zehra Amanan Carre: former princess.



Sehk-Ra: two-faced god of death and chance (shadow
wielders, undertakers and embalmers, death rite clerics, touch killers,
gamblers, thieves) and god of the sun, rule, order (rulers, head of
households, judgment/truth speakers).

When face names are used individually: Sehk for death and chance, Ra for rule and order.

To be Sehk-Ra-blessed is to be in total control = the god of dominion.

Ferra: goddess of birth and health (healers).

Akkan: god of winds, travel, and travelers (port mages, paladins/finders, some weather mages).

Gripna: goddess of domestic matters/hearth/estate/money (homemakers, merchants).

Narsum: god of beauty, youth, age, and time.
Depiction varies—sometimes shown genderless, sometimes shown possessing
all genders, sometimes shown as an infant, sometimes stooped with a
cane. Narsum is the representation of all things experienced in a
lifetime—change both physical and spiritual. Narsumina is the title
given to the vestal tenders of Narsum’s shrines and temples—usually
beautiful, young women.

Marsk: god of war and victory (warriors, rulers, politicians, etc.).

Oceana: goddess of all waters, the seas, rivers, rains and snow (fishermen, some weather mages, etc.).

Verdis: god of flora and fauna, forests (hunters, herbists, farmers).

Called upon by imperial citizens, prayer usage varies:

A healer might pray to Verdis to find herbs, but to Ferra to bless a procedure.

A sailor might say: May the winds of Akkan bless us and the waters of Oceana hold us.

Godly names are used as curse words often, especially Sehk-Ra, Sehk,
and Ra with any combination of descriptive terms attached.
Sehk-Ra-be-damned, Sehk-damned, etc.

Maps (spoilers!)

Tender of the Garden

Tender of the Garden: Nexus, Leys, and Tribes Map

A land map from Tender of the Garden

Nexus Map

The ley slices of the Five Kingdoms, where each of the referenced tribes live (and/or rule), surrounding the Nexus and Garden. This map is included in the Tender of the Garden novella, whose story takes place in the Fourth Layer during the events of The Protection of Ren Crown.