One of the goals of SPFBO is to give a chance to self-published authors to get more exposure. This year I’m taking part in the competition with my own team. You can keep updated on our progress and all of our content on my SPFBO 5 page!
Tales from the Asylum is a new feature I came up with for SPFBO. I wanted to create a unique opportunity for the authors to show off their story telling skills by taking their characters and putting them in an asylum room to see how they would deal with the situation. A lot can happen in a closed space…
R.M. Garino has been writing for most of his life. Since childhood, he has been fascinated with what The Story is, how it functions, its hidden depths, and the different masks it wears.
He is known for writing crisp, character driven fiction that reads like viewing a film. His world creation is vast and far reaching, yet his prose is organic and devoid of informational dumps. The characters are real, believable, and inspire both affection and compassion in the reader.
Garino has a Master’s in Literature and lives in the mountains of the east coast with his wife, three children, and all the characters still waiting their turn to speak. He is an avid brewer of beer and strong coffee, a voracious reader, an aficionado of fine cigars and single malt scotch, and is not nearly as obsessed with video games as his wife believes him to be.
How now, folks. I’m R.M. Garino, the author of the Chaos of Souls Series. Ever wish you could bring your D&D characters to life? Well, that’s exactly what we did. Although the overarching story of angels and demons is much older, our two main characters were fleshed out from a D&D game my wife and I played with friends ages ago. They’re introduced, along with their misfit squads, in The Gates of Golorath, and their adventures continue throughout the series. We’ve also released a standalone series, the Chaos of Souls Novellas, which capture separate side stories that enrich the main series. Requiem’s Reach is the first volume, and we continue from there. If you’re looking for a thoughtful, somewhat irreverent fantasy that puts the stories and character first, then come on over and give us a read.
Thelas waited in silence, as he had for so very long.
It was not always so.
No, not always.
Once upon a time, an oaken sapling pierced his stolen flesh. As it grew around him, he became bound within. He raged against his prison, and struggled against the soul spike that held him fast.
He screamed his defiance against the darkness then, but it was to no avail. He was sealed away within the roots of this great, accursed tree.
It took him centuries to lose his voice.
His flesh rotted and dropped away long ago. But his spirit was still bound, chained to this place with bonds stronger than obdurate steel.
He was an Aesari, an angel of the Creator. Such a fate did not become one of his kind, and he chaffed beneath the encumbrance of his suffering.
He was cast from Heaven long ago, when he stood against the defection of the rebels. They disobeyed the Creator’s will and crossed the veil into creation.
Thelas did not let them pass.
Such was his sin. And for this was he cast out.
He wandered the Chora, lost in the space between the spaces, until the Apostate offered him sanctuary.
He found the rebels again, though they were rent and unrecognizable by their suffering. Their souls were shattered into millions of si’ru, rearranged and bonded to physical matter. They were horrid, malformed and grotesque; a mélange of the angelic beings they once were. As a final insult, they were deprived the succor of memory. They knew not what they once were, nor the reason they defected.
They called themselves the Lethen’al; the fallen.
If they only knew how apt their description was.
But oh, what they created in their perdition, what splendor they surrounded themselves with. Even this tree, his prison, was a city unto itself. It was the capital of their civilization, the center of their learning, the apex of their society. He sensed them all, felt them all, knew them all while their physical bodies withered and died. In life, he flittered through their dreams and whispered in the dark recesses of their minds. In death, their souls fragmented once more, the si’ru scattered to the winds only to reform once again into new souls.
One such moved closer, stirring in an adjoining cell.
How foolish of the silly Lethen’al, Thelas mused. They punished those who violated the social order by placing them within the influence of his presence.
Kolsch, Thelas crooned, telepathically calling to his nearest neighbor. You leave today for home. I will miss you.
I have no home, Kolsch sent back. I have been cast out.
We are kindred then, you and I. Thelas waited. He wrapped himself in his patience. He did not believe the wait would be long.
We are nothing alike, Lo’ademn, Kolsch sent.
There it was. Thelas followed the thoughts back to their source. The mind was close. Where the thoughts telepathically flowed, Thelas found the thorn he placed centuries ago during his first meeting.
Back then, Kolsch was only a Blademaster, an Elc’atar. To reach the final level, to leave the blade behind him, Kolsch entered the prison of his own volition and faced Thelas.
He played with him a trifle, taunted him with banalities and petty corruptions, all the while working the mental sliver inside his defenses. In twelve fleeting hours Thelas let him leave.
We have been friends for so long, Thelas sent. He attached himself to the splinter and wrapped his essence around it.
We were never friends. I am a Mala’kar, a Bladeless master, Kolsch sent. You are a Lo’ademn. I kill your kind.
His posture was propped up and held erect with little more than bravado to mask his trepidation. But there was genuine anger there beneath that fear. A rage festered just below the surface he presented to the world. Wrongs that needed to be avenged, scores to be settled. His mask slipped for but a moment, and he found himself here.
Thelas heard it all, these many weeks of his incarceration. Like all of the Lethen’al, Kolsch was unable to keep the volume of his mental voice to himself. His thoughts screamed through the corridors. Not like the girl, the silver haired gem that was all but an Aesari made flesh. Her thoughts were hidden, but she had heard him.
She was named Arielle in this life, but Thelas recognized her true self. She once was his friend, back before the fall of the Aesari.
Thelas’ patience wavered with thoughts of his old life, but he held it fast about him.
Kolsch knew her. She stood firm in his memory and wandered often through his thoughts, an object of carnal longing and extreme derision. Ridiculous scum. He should be terrified of her.
But Thelas’ nearness is what terrified him instead. He would hold fast to the mask; it would not slip again soon. The little thorn, so tiny, so forgettable, would help him give voice to his anger. Where Kolsch went, Thelas now went with him.
Thelas was aware when the Magi came for Kolsch. They released him from the mental shackles that held him and escorted him away.
Thelas tied off his essence around the splinter and separated it from his being.
Kolsch was now his emissary, and as the hundreds of others like him, he moved free and unhindered in the world above.
As free as Thelas would soon be.
If you’d like to get in touch, you can find R.M. Garino on social media:
R.M. Garino entered The Gates of Golorath, the first book of the Chaos of Souls series into SPFBO and got sorted into Lynn‘s group.