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Creating Challenges in the Wildlands

Phoenix Falling by Laura Bickle

Even in the best of times, life is pretty challenging in Temperance, Wyoming. Petra Dee works her day job as a geologist in the back country of Yellowstone while living in the tiny town of Temperance. Temperance was founded by an alchemist, Lascaris, who vanished more than a century before. She lives on the land where his house once stood. Some of Lascaris’s alchemical experiments still haunt the back country.

She married one of those experiments. Her husband, Gabe, is an undead cowboy who must return to the alchemical Tree of Life to maintain his existence. He’s become distant, spending more and more time wrapped in the roots of the Tree in his underground kingdom. She’s not certain if this is because the Tree has twisted into a cruel and possessive mistress…or if Gabe is put off by the possibility that Petra is no longer as human as she once was.

Through a magical accident, she’s taken over the body of a homunculus, a near-perfect clone of herself. But it was never intended for her. The town bartender had created it to house the spirit of his dead child, and Petra managed to scuttle that magic, to her never-ending guilt. She’s unused to this fresh new body, which hasn’t endured even so much as a paper cut.

At least Petra has a stalwart companion in her coyote, Sig, who may or may not be the Coyote with a capital “C.”

She’s got enough in her personal life to keep her occupied.

But there are more hazards beyond the front door of Petra’s trailer. A phoenix has arrived in town, a deadly foe creating uncontrolled fires in the Yellowstone back country. These fires are blazing eastward, threatening Temperance, the nearby reservation, and even the Tree of Life.

The presence of the phoenix has awoken other horrors. A living representation of the alchemical fermentation process, a godlike being of rot and decay, has arisen to compete with the Phoenix for control of Temperance. He’s been locked in an eternity of combat with the phoenix…but that doesn’t make him a hero. Far from it. If he wins, Temperance will be plunged into darkness.

And the founder of Temperance, Lascaris, has returned. The alchemist’s rusty spirit now possesses the body of Petra’s father, determined to control both the phoenix and the Tree. If he gains both, he will have access to untold power, immortality, and perhaps even the Philosopher’s Stone itself.

It will be up to Petra, Sig, and Gabe to defend Temperance from the magical incursions. If they fail, all the magic in the backcountry will burn to ashes, and evil will gain control of unimaginable power in the weird west showdown to end all showdowns in Temperance.

Find out more about PHOENIX FALLING here.

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