Gateway to the Past is the third book in the dark fantasy series, The Last Bucelarii. The series follows a half-demon assassin named “the Hunter of Voramis” on his journey to discover the truth about his forgotten past, his demonic heritage, and his identity.
The world of Einan shares a lot of similarities with Earth: Saharan-deserts (the setting for this book), lush tropical forests (to the far east), a mountain range much like the Himalayas (setting for Books 5 and 6), and cities reminiscent of medieval London, Paris, and Rome (settings for Books 1 and 2).
However, an ancient race known as the Serenii once lived on Einan, and their creations are still visible. For example, in the city of Praamis stands a 200-meter tall tower known as the Black Spire. Around the continent are circles of standing stones (think Stonehenge on a smaller scale) that are hotspots of magic. Serenii technology is often perceived as “magic”, and the humans of Einan have no idea how to make it work. Only scholars and historians recognize it as Serenii handiwork.
How does your main character fit into this world?
The Hunter is a Bucelarii, the product of a union between a human female and an Abiarazi (demon) male. He has lived for thousands of years, though his memory only stretches back 40-50 years (for reasons explained in Books 1-3).
He is an outsider looking for a place in a world where he doesn’t belong. Humans would be afraid if they knew the truth about him, so he hides his identity.
He has become an assassin out of necessity: the voices in his head drive him to kill, and they will only give him peace when he has spilled blood.
Tell us about the technology of your world.
There is no “magic” in the world—it is simply Serenii technology that humans don’t understand. The Serenii have created inventions like solar panels, voice-activation, and genetically-activated technology.
The Hunter’s ability to heal from wounds is derived from his demonic ancestry. Yet it is more a physiological ability than magical—all Abiarazi have the inherent ability to shift their shape, similar to a worm re-growing when cut in half or a chameleon changing colors.
The overall technology of Einan is somewhere between 11th and 17th century Europe, including inventions from India, China, and Japan (paper, basic black powder, etc.). Some cities are more technologically advanced than others, but the world overall has access to similar technology in terms of mechanisms (clocks, timepieces), metalsmithing techniques, etc.
Alchemy is a very real science on Einan. The Secret Keepers, priests of the Mistress, are the premier alchemists in the world, but there are those who practice alchemy (and rudimentary science) outside the priestly order.
What are the people who inhabit your world like?
The cultures of Praamis, Malandria, and Voramis (from Books 1 and 2) are based on medieval Europe (monarchy, government-controlled law enforcement, commerce-driven nations, etc.). The Twelve Kingdoms (discovered in Book 3) are a mix between Saudi Arabian, Moroccan, and Egyptian. The nomads of the Advanat Desert are reminiscent of the Bedouins of the Sahara.
Are there any magical creatures?
The Serenii and Abiarazi would both be considered “magical” by humans. The Serenii tap into the forces of the sun, earth, moon, vibrations, metals, and other technology, using them for “magical purposes”. The Abiarazi’s ability to shift shape is, as mentioned above, a physiological ability rather than magical.
Is there anything special, precious, or unique about your world’s geography or its place in the universe?
The world is very familiar, yet with a few small details that make it stand out. For example, the Hunter loves the smell of Snowblossom trees, which are based on Japanese cherry blossom trees. In Book 2, the Hunter is attacked by a bloodbear, a more violent species of bear.
The primarily unique geographical feature is a massive canyon (a la Grand Canyon) that splits the continent from east to west. It was the remnant of the War of Gods, when the gods of Einan fought against Kharna the Destroyer, the “evil” god.
What is the most interesting fact or feature of your world?
The incorporation of Serenii technology in each book/series does make things more interesting. Characters from each book encounter or even use the technology to some extent, connecting the worlds.
Is there a religious system in place?
The majority of the Einari worship the 13 gods:
- Kiro, the Master, god of virtue and nobility.
- Deralana, Lady of Vengeance. Goddess of warriors
- Garridos, the Apprentice, god of ventures.
- the Maiden, goddess of purity, devotion, and festivities.
- Illusionist, god of coin, success, and madness.
- Bright Lady, goddess of healing,
- Swordsman—god of war, heroism, and metal-smithing
- Mistress, goddess of trysts and whispered truths
- Bloody Minstrel, god of sickness, plague, and horrible music
- Watcher in the Dark god of the night, god of justice and vengeance
- The Lonely Goddess, goddess of orphans and broken hearts
- the Beggar God.
- Long Keeper, god of death.
Each religious order brings something different: the Apprentice’s priests are bankers, the Swordsman’s followers are knights and warriors, the Watcher’s followers are the judges and police force, the Illusionist’s followers are either victims or mental/neurological/psychological/emotional disorders or have a keen understanding of the human mind. Every new book explores a different religion and their impact on the world.
Excerpt from Gateway to the Past:
The Hunter peered out from behind the silent wagon. Good. No sign of Kellen or Graden. He’d have to keep an ear out for the caravan guards, but he should have plenty of time. The patrol had a lot of ground to cover.
Grunting, he shifted the heavy load on his shoulder and darted out from the row of shelters, hurrying toward the outcropping of boulders he’d chosen specifically for his task. He ducked behind the boulders and hurled his burden to the ground. A grunt and muffled cry came from the bundle, and something squirmed within.
He’s coming to. Good timing.
The Hunter pulled back the canvas, and moonlight shone on Rill’s pale, sweat-soaked face and wide eyes. Blood oozed from a wound on the bald man’s temple. The Hunter hadn’t bothered to be gentle.
“W-What?” Rill’s eyes darted around, and his gaze fell on the Hunter. “What is this?”
The Hunter struck the man hard. “Justice.”
Rill made to cry out, but the Hunter stuffed canvas into his mouth. “Ironic, isn’t it?” His fingers twitched a corner of the thick cloth. “You spend every waking hour stitching up canvas. Fitting that it will serve as your funeral shroud. There was more than enough of it around your area to wrap you up.”
The bald man’s eyes widened, and he mumbled something through the mouthful of fabric.
The Hunter shook his head. “Better you don’t speak. Nothing you say can change what’s coming. Best you die with a bit of dignity. Watcher knows you had little enough while you lived.”
Soulhunger, sensing blood, pounded louder in his mind, and the demon added its eager demands.
“I never understood men like you, knocking around your women.” He squatted on his haunches. “Just doesn’t make sense.”
Rill tried in vain to shout through his gag.
The Hunter narrowed his eyes. “Did you know there is a special hell reserved for your kind? Those who take advantage of the helpless.”
He slipped Soulhunger from its sheath, and held the glinting blade before Rill’s eyes. “You may tell yourself she belongs to you, you can do whatever you want.” He leaned forward, and his voice dropped to a low growl. “Just because you can, that doesn’t mean you should.”
Rill’s eyebrows shot up, and his expression turned pleading.
The Hunter shook his head. “Save your excuses for the Long Keeper. You’ll be with him soon enough.”
With a vicious smile, he drove Soulhunger through the canvas and into the man’s chest. The gag muffled Rill’s scream, but the dagger’s shriek echoed in his head with mind-numbing force. Soulhunger’s gem flared, red light bright in the darkness. The Hunter grunted as a finger of fire etched a line in his chest. Power coursed through him, setting his muscles twitching, flooding him with life, and pushing back the voices in his mind.
Slowly, the brilliance leaking from the gemstone faded to nothing, and Rill’s screams of agony and terror fell silent. The Hunter basked in the stillness of the night. A soothing breeze washed over him, the chill soothing the burning of his new scar. Glorious silence echoed in his head. The voices had been sated. He had peace, for a time.
He straightened and stared down at the bundled corpse. Perhaps the Long Keeper will have mercy on you.
An image flashed through his mind: a pitiful figure huddled at the entrance to Rill’s tent, covered in filthy rags and reeking of blood and coitus. Rill’s desire to punish Gwen had made it easier for the Hunter to slip in, knock the fat bastard out, wrap him in his own canvas, and slip out unnoticed. The man’s absence wouldn’t be discovered until morning. Few would care.
He took a deep breath, relishing the cool scents of the desert at night. He would wait a few minutes until he was certain Graden and Kellen had passed, then he would dispose of the body, bury the canvas, and slip back into camp. Without the voices shrieking and pleading in his mind, he might even be able to catch a few hours of undisturbed sleep before the morning breakfast bell.
Tonight would be a good night.