Outcasts of the Worlds
Outcasts of the Worlds Book 1
by Lucas Paynter
Genre: Cosmic Fantasy 456 pages
A confidence man. A liar. A monster. Flynn has seen himself for what he really is and has resolved to pay for everything. Even if it means spending the rest of his days locked in Civilis, a tower prison for society's unwanted - "half-humans" gifted by the fallout of nuclear holocaust centuries past.
Jean, a prisoner in the neighboring cell, has different ideas and despite himself, Flynn finds himself joining her daring escape. After rescuing her friend Mack, the three flee Civilis as Flynn pieces together the hours before his capture and finds himself drawn to an abandoned facility where a rift to another world opens at his nearing.
Together they will venture farther beyond the stars than humanity ever imagined, find others like them that will never belong, and tangle with forces both ancient and immortal. They stand alone, hated and scorned - and the last hope of making things right in a cosmos gone terribly wrong.
On a steep climb up a looming hill, he found her. The vicious path was only a short distance below the stone net cast above Oma’s wormlike terrain, and the coverage was terrible. She had made it more than halfway up before collapsing face down in the snow. One of the creatures in the tunnel had strayed from its pack and was picking at her body.
The assault here was not like the gentle flurries from the terrestrial vents in the passages behind—it pelted, stinging flesh and blinding more than a raised forearm could help. Though the cold metal frames seared his skin, he donned his spectacles, for it was too difficult to see otherwise. As he neared the fallen girl,
the wolf-like creature took notice and bared its teeth, growling. Disinterested, Flynn released his claws and swept the creature aside without a second thought; its body tumbled into the crag below.
Upon reaching Zaja, he knelt and brushed off the hoarfrost that had formed on her, shielding her from the cruelest zephyrs with his body. As he wrapped her shoulder, which was only barely bitten beneath the layers the creature had had to tear through, she stared up at him, saying nothing. It was not relief he saw in Zaja’s eyes. I’ll hate you for saving me.
She’d have rather been found dead than like this. Sitting over her, Flynn was now unsure what to do. It still wounded him to remember the man he was, the one who wouldn’t save another even if they begged. Much less if they refused his charity. He’d have been content to walk away in the past, but what does one do when they want to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped?
Left alone, Zaja would die. Flynn couldn’t grasp her stubborn lack of self-preservation, more still when dying now would serve no one. The puzzle he had pieced together told that Zaja sought work, to make herself useful—and she’d left the home she knew, all alone, to find it. That suggested the want for life.
She would hate him for saving her. He knew that as he rolled her onto her back, slid his arms beneath her, and stood up with her, turning to carry her back to the checkpoint. He decided it better if she lived and hated than died and didn’t. For all the hate Flynn had brought upon himself, he expected he could shoulder
at least a little bit more.
Killers, Traitors & Runaways
Outcasts of the Worlds Book 2
As reality nears its final days, worlds fall to ruin. A benevolent god is shackled, and when freed, will create a new one ... allowing only the pure of heart. A company of seven have united on a bloody quest to stop him, but have little hope of emerging victorious.
The outcasts are adrift--they have a mission but no means to fulfill it. Airia Rousow, the fallen goddess who set them on their path, is gone. Guardian Poe, her intended successor, believes deification will absolve him of his sins and his remorse alike. And Zella Renivar, daughter of the Living God, is still hunted by her father's agents, drawing danger on them all.
Trapped in this storm, Flynn is able to find and open the ways between worlds, but cannot discern which path is the right one. Since losing the trust of his closest friend, the temptation to fall back on his former, deceitful ways with grows with every crisis he faces.
For a few minutes, Zaja just watched as the clatter of wood against wood became so loud that—had she not known better—she’d have expected a swarm of insects was coming through. Poe spun again and again, striking at each static foe with equal aggression. He only knew how to fight alone, and accounted for no allies at his back.
As his aggression for battle died, he hunched, breathing heavily, his white hair frazzled. His back was turned to Zaja.
“Hot enough for ya?” she asked, teasingly.
Wiping the sweat from his brow, Poe glanced back at her with his deep purple eyes. “You’ve returned. I don’t imagine you as the bearer of good news.”
“It was a bust.” Zaja tossed Poe what remained of her water. “Desert—which was actually the best part! Except there was this thing with Renivar’s soldiers. Miles of them, all crossing right in front of us.”
“I find I regret not going,” he replied after draining the bottle. “I’d have thinned their ranks, given the chance. Though I remain mortal, I can do that much even now.”
Zaja noted the numerous pock-marks on the columns, and was about to comment, “You’re certainly showing those pillars who’s boss,” but the jibe died in her throat. Instead, she felt compelled to point out, “They’re not bad people, you know.”
“They were my torturers,” Poe replied darkly. “They saw me bound and humiliated. They made a mockery of me in my weakened state, and did so all on the orders of their god.” Maybe they had a good reason, she vaguely considered.
He closed his eyes, shaking his head and wondering, “What commands could I give, were I in such a position …?”
“Out of any among us, you might get to find out.”
Poe met her intrigue with cynicism. “Most days, I doubt even that.”
Like Poe, what Zaja knew and what she felt were two very different things. Airia Rousow, the fallen Goddess of Eternity, had tapped Poe as her successor, that he might use his skill and her power to murder Taryl Renivar, a counterpart of her order. That Poe was poised to inherit such power remained difficult to grasp, and she surmised he felt little different when he softly spoke on. “More often, I feel I should have stayed where you found me, the butcher at Heaven’s gates.”
“It would have been a lie,” she told him.
“I know. Yet in my ignorance, at least, I felt no hole in my heart for what I’d let myself become.”
Zaja nodded, sorry to understand.
“I wish I could have stayed with Renivar’s people,” she replied softly. “Before I knew what they were doing to you, or how far their god is willing to go to give them the perfect world he’s promised.” Zaja wrapped her arms low, around her belly. “Back when I thought he was just going to make a better world where everything that had gone wrong could finally be made right.” She scoffed derisively. “A better world … but not one that would allow for people like us.”
Poe spared her a fleeting smile as he took up his black coat, wearing it loose while he refastened his blades over it, lest the straps chafe.
“The tragedy is not that we’re unhappy for letting aside our ignorance,” he stated. “It’s that we could not remain content with our lot, knowing more fully what we had.”
Lucas Aubrey Paynter hails from the mythical land of Burbank, California, where there are most likely no other writers at all.
Back in 2014, he published Outcasts of the Worlds, and he’s now releasing its follow-up, Killers, Traitors, & Runaways.
A fan of gray-area storytelling and often a devil’s advocate, Lucas enjoys consuming stories from a variety of mediums, believing there’s no limit to what form a good narrative can take.
One of the joys of writing, of the act of creation in any form, is the freedom to break the rules of reality and unleash characters who can do things we can’t. This can come in a variety of forms, from magic spells to sci-fi tech to the good old-fashioned super power.
A concern that struck me early on in my own writing process was the application of said abilities, precisely because they were something I wanted to use, and indeed were integral to the identities of several of my characters. Yet such abilities need to be constrained, as free usage will invariably beget the question of why doesn’t Character X just use their awesome ability to solve all their problems?
In some mediums, this isn’t a problem—in gaming, for example, limits are often placed on how frequently powerful abilities can be used, often with a finite meter of energy that needs to be refilled with items or allowed to regenerate. The rules that are in place dictate how powerful abilities can be used and abused.
The problem with writing is that we don’t have those guidelines in place—we have to make our own. Allow a character to do too much, too frequently, and it punches all the wind out of whatever tribulation they’re facing. Similarly, having their key talent suddenly “burn out” at a key moment risks contrivance if not explained well.
In my case, to address this problem, I adopted a simple philosophy: nothing is free.
The foundation of this idea is that any abilities my characters possess or gain have some sort of drawback associated with them, either stemming from their usage or even mere possession.
Social stigma is certainly a workable starting point—the first protagonists of Outcasts of the Worlds, my inaguaral novel, hail from a ruined Earth where they’re classified as subhuman for the things they’re capable of; however, the foundation of Outcasts, both as a novel and a series, is that the protagonists are able to escape our world and travel through others, and so I knew there was no value relying on that penalty alone.
And so enters Chariska Jerhas, the fourth protagonist of this book and the one whom my dilemma, and solution, revolved around.
Chariska (Chari, for short) is a priestess of the Saryu, the dominant religion of her world. One gift the Saryu priestesses are bestowed is the ability to become healers, a talent I think any band of adventurers venturing the worlds (or even just one world) would not want to be without.
The problem I faced was how to handle Chari’s healing abilities without breaking the book. If she could bring anyone back from the brink of death, effortlessly, what value was there in conflict?
The solution I came upon with her was to make the cost of healing a personal one. The rule for Chari, and indeed the Saryu priestesses at large, is that the act of healing another harms the priestess.
Not physically, to be clear—but rather, in taking away another’s pain, they experience it in the process. The worst the wound, the more the priestess suffers in restoring it, and the pain is greatly exceeded when acting to heal themselves.
Perhaps a more cowardly character would be retiscent heal anyone at all, though such isn’t the case with Chari. However, the cost lent a pragmatism to her healing, and gives reason why she might not tend every little cut or bruise one of the party suffers; more, it added a considerable conflict whenever she herself becomes injured, as the pain of self-healing is so severe she could potentially lose consciousness, unable to help anyone else and left vulnerable herself.
The rules with Chari are particular to her, but the philosophy is the same. The gifts my characters possess are often destructive, if not to the environment around them, then their own bodies, or even their souls.