There have been several books in my history titled Refuge. I first came up with the idea for the world when I first started writing, and it was the third manuscript I completed. I had just completed the manuscripts for The Tower of Psychobable, a non-fiction, and The Convoy, an alternate history, and wanted to do something epic in the realm of fantasy. And Refuge was born. Before it was over I had embarqed on an epic journey of world building. Cultures, civilizations, Pantheons of multiple dozens of Gods, Languages, Histories, Architectures. And the maps. Maps of large cities. Maps of Countries. Maps of Empires. Maps of each continent. And of course a map of the entire world. I sought to out Tolkien the worldbuilding of Tolkien, and may have succeeded. All this was going on while I was developing characters and plotting. Then I got to work, and finished with a two hundred and sixty thousand word masterpiece with too many characters. It was a semireligious tale of a world where people from the twentieth century earth were thrust into another dimension, a magical world of the archetypes of our world. Where elves, dwarves, orcs and halflings existed and thrived. It was set two thousand years after the arrival and was titled simply Refuge. I sent it off to publishers and agents and started to work on the second novel, titled The Ravening Blade. I was scammed on this book and developed a mistrust of agents that lasted for over a decade. I now realize that the book was entirely too long for a first effort. But I still loved the idea.
About five years ago I wrote another book set in the same world, thinking that maybe a shorter tale with fewer characters might sell. So I wrote the ninety-three thousand word novel titled Refuge. Again it was set in the magical world of Refuge, a planet in which millions of refugees from Earth have changed the order of the land. Still had elves, dwarves, orcs and halflings, with explanations through the work of how they were evolutionary branches of humanity that had thrived on this new world. They had major differences from the imaginary creatures of Tolkien and D & D, but were treated as the same by the publishers that read, or should I say didn’t read, the work. So the work was ignored. Recently I dusted it off the hard drive and am preparing it for release under the title Doppelganger: A Novel of Refuge. I am intending it to be a teaser for the latest version of Refuge, written in 2010. I am making changes to make sure that it meshes well with the newest version.
This one will be titled Refuge: The Arrival, and will be followed by Refuge: The Legions and then Refuge: The Naval War. Again set in the same world, this story will start when humans, engaged in a nuclear was that flares up over tensions in Europe, are transported by the millions to the new world. Among them are the human Immortals who are so central to the story. The Germans and their American allies end up right smack in the middle of an Elven Empire whose Emperor sees them as soul energy to further his plans for immortality. The Earthers come across with weapons; tanks, armored personnel carriers, attack helicopters, and find themselves fighting a foe primitively armed but possessing magic. And since Refuge is a world where belief become reality, the weapons begin degrading under the will of the original inhabitants, until they no longer work and the humans are forced to learn how to fight like the inhabitants. Some ideas just to whet the appetite. Humans who are Schizophrenic or Autistic on Earth are touched by the Gods on Refuge, and are innate magicians. Followers of the major Earth Religions are untouched by the magic of Refuge, and most importantly by the soul eaters of the planet. Try to suck the life out of one of them and disaster results. The planet has existed in a status quo for centuries, and Earthers are about to change that. This novel sits at one hundred and seventy thousand words and is planned to top out at two hundred thousand. I have plans to do at least one novel a year in this series, with an ultimate goal of fifteen books. That’s the plan at least, and we all know what can happen with plans. I will say that I am very passionate about this series. It has everything I love in fantasy. Disciplined armies battling it out over the final victory of good or evil. Magic and magical creatures, including dragons, giant hawks and unicorns. Vampires and Trolls. And even the ultimate slimballs of our history, Nazis. Led by a German Immortal who has revived that vile breed in an evil land, to fight against the German Immortal leading the opposition, attempting to make ammends for the sins he committed in the Second World War.
Below is an excerpt from Doppelganger:
The lift tube slowed her ascent as she approached the observation deck of the newest of the Elfin Towers. Her upward motion stopped as the gentle force of the tube pushed her out onto the floor of the deck. Catching her breath at the beauty of the expanse of glass and steel to her front, she walked forward flanked by the plainclothes guards of the Imperial Secret Service. Her sitters, as she thought of them.
A trio of the uniformed Imperial Guards waited to her front, along with a pair of her accompanying mages, the Imperial Battlemage Kellium Zoriski alongside of the younger communications mage. The elfin Empress’ sharp ears picked up the sounds of the rest of her detachment stepping out of the numerous tubes. They fanned out through the floor, reinforcing those who had already secured any entrance to the deck.
The dwarven warpriest, Korgan Grimmbarg, ran up as fast as his short legs would carry him, bowed to the Empress, and reported to the head of the security detail.
“Nothing is amiss, my lord,” said the dwarf to the dark elf.
“Very good,” said Major Thallius.
Not that anything is likely to happen here in the heart of Ataponia, thought the Empress, walking toward the shimmering glass wall that let out onto the city, barely noticing the beautiful foliage that the elfin builders had placed in profusion.
I have seen this many times before, she thought as she looked out at the city below. But the sight of Ataponia, the greatest city of the Empire and the home of over seven million citizens, always brought a rush of excitement. Greenery there was in abundance, as the other races emulated the environmental concerns of the elves who had originally founded this city. Wide avenues traversed by throngs of people, afoot and in carriages. Parks set among the high buildings and apartments, a place for people to gather and play.
A huge airship to her left caught her gaze, drifting lazily across the sky, smoke rising from its stacks. Smaller airships also crowded over the city, personal craft, taxis and search/rescue vessels. A dragon squadron, silvers, lazily flew a wedge formation at altitude.
Next her eyes wandered to the Seine, crowded with river craft of all types, while people the size of mites crossed the many bridges, and a long train passed over the river from the dockyards. The enormous skyscrapers of the downtown district were only overshadowed by the backdrop of the mountains under which the underground dwellers built their neighborhoods. Sunlight reflected from various points of those mountains, the solar storage facilities providing much of the magical power of the city.
Moving her field of vision, she smiled as she looked over the center of the city, at the Imperial Arch of Victory, the many Cabinet buildings, and the huge palace complex beyond. The glow to her right caught her attention, and she swung her gaze toward the Cathedral Complex of the Life Gods. The glow of power shone bright on the central spire of the Basilica of Arathonia, while the domes of the eleven lesser cathedrals glowed with a pure white light of their own. The power of the Gods harnessed for the people’s use.
“Breathtaking, is it not, your Highness?” said the architect, another high elf, who had moved silently beside her.
“The view is fine,” she said in her contralto voice, brushing her long golden hair behind her ears and turning her solid blue eyes towards the man, “as is the building providing the view.”
Gwenara leaned out and looked down at the last statement, admiring the garden like square from which the building rose. Like all the elfin towers of the Point Neighborhood, this building held many levels of greenery. Only a nation that allowed the talents of its many people to mingle could accomplish such a feat of engineering and architecture. Only the combination of elfin architecture, dwarven materials science and human engineering would make such a tower possible.
Feeling the presence of another to her left, she turned to find Matthew, the youngest of her uniformed bodyguards, standing beside her, trying to keep his attention on the crowd behind her instead of the gorgeous vista ahead. The boy was her favorite among the guards, so curious and inquisitive, not appearing experienced enough to walk with the elite of the Empire. Until one looked at the Golden Wolf adorning his helmet, the sign of a warrior of extreme bravery.
“Beautiful, is it not, Matthew?” she asked the youngster.
“Yes, my lady,” he said, looking directly into her solid blue eyes with a smile on his face.
Gwenara wondered whether the boy was remarking on the scenery or on her. High Elven, or Ellala, culture allowed the taking of lovers, even when married, and she was curious to experience such a young human. But her husband, though an Immortal, had still been raised to believe that monogamy was the true way of marriage, and she loved and respected him enough to respect his viewpoint.
“The people are waiting, your Highness,” said the voice of Major Thallius.
For yet another of these interminable speeches, she thought. But an Empress had political duties to fulfill, no matter how they bored her. She turned and waved at the now crowded observation deck, throngs of people of all races here to cover the dedication of the newest of Ataponia’s skyscrapers.
Then it hit her, a feeling growing in the back of her mind, like that she felt when a dream of import tugged at her during the night. Something was wrong here. Her eyes scanned the crowd, locking for a moment on the eyes of a tall elf near the rear. Dark eyes stared back, pupils opened to maximum, even in the brightly lit observation deck. Light red hair. Strawberry blond her husband’s people called it. Rare in the Empire, though not unheard of.
But very common in Tarakesh. There was a feeling emanating from him as well. Something was wrong, and that man had something to do with it. Her guard seemed unaware of anything amiss, her psionic and her warpriest looking calm and relaxed as they scanned the crowd.
“Major Thallius,” she said, reaching to touch his shoulder. The strange elf’s eyes widened in alarm as he hurriedly pulled a red handkerchief and blew his nose. Then all hell broke loose, and she realized that she had set off the trap by her very actions. Hidden weapons were drawn by many in the crowd. It seemed to happen in slow motion, as if she were trapped in a spell, and everyone else did not realize what was going on.
Gwenara saw the squat curved shape of a steam pistol rising up in her direction, held in the hands of the elf with the strawberry blond hair. An assassination was her first thought, as she began to call the words of protection to her lips. The gun spurted a cloud of steam. People in the crowd screamed in panic and looked for somewhere to run. The pellet whizzed by, shattering the glass of the observation wall, ripping a large hole in it. The winds rose through the opening, snatching at her clothing and threatening to pull her out into the abyss of the sky.
“My Lady,” screamed Matthew, reaching to interpose his shield between her and her assassin.
A fireball burst, striking a quartet of Secret Service Agents, turning men into screaming torches who ran this way and that. The warpriest tried to extinguish the flames, before a bolt of crackling electricity ended his efforts with a stench of burning flesh. Another bolt of destruction hit, and more steam pistols spoke. Then, as the Archmage Kellium Zoriski waved his hands, threatening all enemies with mighty magic, a field of magic negation sprung into being, making even the mighty archmage’s powers of assault useless.
Gwenara felt her own magical energies drain away as if a plug had been pulled. A negator, was her thought, one of those rare humans who could short circuit all magic within range of their abilities. The magic would not work until he allowed it to work. Her eyes searched through the crowd, trying to locate the man, before her mind was occupied by other matters.
The high elf she had first noticed fired his second shot, the pellet striking Matthew in the side of his helmet and knocking him off of his feet. The helmet resisted the penetration of the shot as well made armor should, its inner padding absorbing the shock as the tough alloy sprung back. But the impact unbalanced him, and the young man slid on broken glass through the opening to outside, his hands grasping for any purchase before he fell from the manmade cliff.
Gwenara reacted immediately, diving for the floor as her hands reached and grasped her guard’s wrists, feeling herself being pulled from the room as well as she tried to dig the toes of her high boots into the polished surface. Wide eyes stared into hers, as the youth fought down his terrible fear with thoughts of duty.
“Let go, my lady,” he said through clenched teeth, “lest you follow me to doom.”
“I won’t let go,’ she replied in strained voice. “I won’t let go.”
“Let me help, your Majesty,” said the voice of the architect, kneeling down beside her.
His hands touched her, and her muscles spasmed with the shock of some unholy presence entering through the physical contact. She fought with every ounce of her considerable willpower, but the distraction of holding the boy from death was just enough to allow her to fail. The spirit slipped in, more vile than the vilest of physical rapists, and her mind was thrust into the role of observer, as the lifeless body of the architect dropped to the floor and through the hole in the windows, almost knocking Matthew from her grasp. Then control began to leave body. The Empress tried to recover as she saw her hands begin to open, but nothing she knew could stop her from releasing her grip on the young guardsman.
Matthew fell out into space on the beginning of his two thousand foot drop, his eyes smiling at the thought that he would not be the cause of his Empress’s death. He fell silently and with great courage, while Gwenara mentally cursed her lack of will for allowing the possessing spirit to let the boy die.
Then her limbs began to move with a will of their own, pulling her away from the opening and to her feet. Most of her guards, both Imperial Army and Secret Service, were down, as well as a number of armed men who could only be the terrorists. Some of the attackers still held steam pistols, though most had dropped those one shot weapons and now held short swords in their hands, the ultra-sharp blades glowing with high enchantment. No bows were in evidence. The attackers must not have been able to smuggle their long forms to the deck, she thought. And how did they ever get the weapons they did bring through the tight security?
A soldier still fought on here and there, with superior armor and swordsmanship, outnumbered by the conspirators. Innocents lay in crumpled positions, while others ran or crawled toward any exit, and still others grabbed whatever was near at hand to fight beside their Empress’ men.
She tried to shout a warning, with no result, and her hand drew the ceremonial dagger she carried at her belt. She knew the power of this fine blade, enchanted by the Gods themselves. Please, she screamed in her mind, as she walked with knife in hand toward one of her surviving guards, a sergeant who was more than holding his own against the attackers. The guardsman swung his sword, beating down the guard of one of the elfin assailants, taking advantage of the opening to rip his blade across the elf’s face. Blood spurted and the terrorist fell back.
Then the Empress was behind the guard, her blade thrusting easily through the fine quality enchanted armor as only an artifact such as it could. The man twisted around as the blade was pulled from her hand, ready to strike until his wide eyes beheld who stood behind him.
“Your Majesty”, stammered the man, “what…”
A mace struck the man’s helmet hard, the concussion knocking him to his knees, as another elf danced to his front and throat thrust him with a slim sword.
“Good work,” said the elf, the same who had caught her attention before the attack. “Now get moving to the drop. We don’t have much time.”
“She has a powerful will,” said her voice, as her legs were again forced forward.
The drop shaft grew nearer, no matter her efforts, while the attackers fell in around her. Some dragged bodies, the remains of comrades they couldn’t risk to leave behind. One of these dropped as a bullet struck his shoulder, the man falling with the corpse on top. Hands reached out to help him up, the body abandoned so that the living might be rescued.