Refuge: The Arrival: Book 1 is free today (11/16/2012) through Tuesday (11/20/2012) on Amazon KDP Select. I have big plans for this series, at least twelve books in the main storyline and possibly 4-6 spin offs. That should take up a significant amount of my writing time for the next decade. I say significant because I will also have other projects in the works during that time, including the Exodus science fiction series and the Deep Dark Well set of trilogies. I think I can get them all done, especially if I can get to the point where I either quit my day job or at least go to part time status. I also have a book on Amazon and Smashwords called Refuge: Doppelganger, set over a thousand years in the future, which may have some spoilers to people starting the Refuge series, or may not, depending on how you look at it. I myself don’t think it spoils too much of the storyline about the past.
Refuge grew out of the idea about humans inhabiting a world of fantasy would that had connections to our history and culture. So there would be elves, dragons, demons, vampires and magic, but there would also be Baseball, Soccer, and modern orders of battle, as well as classical and rock music, and the Catholic Church and others. I was hoping it would be a blend that exposed readers to a new world while maintaining some of the familiarity of the old. And I wanted it to have lots of action. It is military fantasy, no doubt about that. Most of the stories will feature armies maneuvering across the map in a series of thrusts and counterthrusts. And the timeline will advance, with new characters, but then again many of the initial characters, being long lived elves or human immortals, will be in the entire series.
I would have to say that Refuge in style is a mix of Harry Turtledove meets R. A. Salvatore. Turtledove in that the book covers a large geographical area with a lot of characters to provide viewpoints of the story from both sides. I have gotten in one review of my science fiction series Exodus that said there were too many characters and it became confusing. That might be so, but this is the style of book that needs a lot of characters, and if you like Turtledove you will probably like this book. If not, it may not be the book for you. I try to do the battle scenes in a Salvatore style in which there is a lot of action and viewpoint scenes switch fast a furious. A review of another book of mine, The Shadows of the Multiverse, said that I had too much action and not enough character development. I’m not really sure how you can have too much action, but I try to write the books I would want to read, and twenty page scenes of people sitting around coffee tables sipping beverages and raising eyebrows while discussing things that have already happened do not really get me going. So it has action with character development within the context of that action. Yes, the book is an introduction to the series, but still a good yarn in its own right. Books one and two go together to make the introduction to the story. It just seemed silly to offer a two hundred thousand word novel in one ebook, so it is two. And this book’s last chapter is also an action sequence, and unlike any other I have found in fantasy, though I haven’t read everything out there. That would be a fantasy, would it not? This chapter involves a battle between an Armored Cavalry Company and a Great Wyrm Red Dragon. Now what could be cooler than that? This excerpt is not from that battle, but from an earlier fight between the Immortal Humans and some Trolls. Enjoy, and please drop by Refuge: The Arrival: Book 1 from 11/16/2012 to 11/20/2012 to pick up your free copy of the ebook.
The old German pulled up as soon as he caught sight of what was down that road. Levine skidded to a halt beside him and swore in Hebrew. Kurt could understand the feeling, because he really couldn’t believe the three creatures he was watching.
From the scale of the people and vehicles around them they had to stand over three meters tall, maybe just a bit less than four meters. And if they didn’t weigh at least a ton he was a Russian. There were a couple of burning vehicles, including a truck and a couple of cars that looked like they had been flipped over, proving the strength of the creatures. One of the monsters was chasing some German soldiers at the far observable end of the road. Another was stumbling around with its hands over its face, black blood shining on its throat and upper chest. And a third was rearing up with a mace, about to bring it down on a body lying on the ground. Germans were firing at all three of the monsters, and the bullets were bouncing off, even where they hit exposed flesh.
Kurt looked at the closest monster, the one about to smash someone helpless on the ground. A German soldier fired at the monster, tracers bouncing from the helmet and body plate of the creature. The monster hesitated for an instant, turning his head to look at the German, then turned back toward his victim.
Kurt exploded into a sprint toward the Troll, for such he was already calling it in his head. His legs pumped smoothly as he ran as fast as the fastest Olympic sprinter, though more burdened than the athlete, hauling his armor and weapon along with him. The Troll was bringing his mace down, and Kurt could see the body of a dark skinned woman in military fatigues lying on the ground, about to receive the blow.
The two handed sword came in at the closest arm of the creature as the mace passed its waist. Kurt put all of his strength into the blow, and the laser sharpened blade hit at the elbow, directly above the forearm guard. The blade sliced through the rock hard skin with a solid chunking sound. Black blood spurted into the air. The Troll roared and spun toward the German, the mace missing the target as the damaged arm’s hand lost its grip on the weapon.
Kurt’s arms shook as the blade stopped on hitting the granite like bones of the creature. He pulled the blade free and backed up as the monster turned its attention to him. Kurt brought his sword up to a guard position as the monster advanced, swinging the mace in its off hand.
The mace swung out as the monster went into the attack. It swung the mace in and the German grabbed the hand grip on his blade and went for a two handed block, catching the haft of the blunt weapon on the blade between the grips. Kurt tensed as the weapons met, locking his arms in place. Despite his demigod like strength the monster out massed him by a factor of eight or more, and the German was pushed backwards by the hit, his booted feet sliding on the turf.
The monster clumsily brought his mace back for another strike, and the German moved in, dropping his left hand back to the handle of his sword and shoving the point forward like a spear. The blade punctured the skin of the Troll in the middle of the right thigh, slicing deep into the muscle. The Troll shambled back, pulling itself off of the blade while it roared its pain and anger. Kurt drew the blade over his left shoulder and sliced across the opposite thigh of the monster while stepping forward, cutting through the large muscle and wounding the creature deeply. The monster lost control of the left leg and staggered to a kneeling position, putting a hand down to keep from falling over.
Kurt sliced in with his blade on the supporting arm, the one that was holding the mace, the left. The blade sliced in again, chopping down to the bone. The mace fell from lifeless fingers as the creature roared and tried to regain its feet. A slice at the right knee hurt that leg even more, and Kurt backed away, looking for the killing stroke.
He knew his blade wouldn’t cut through the thick, steel hard bones, so there was no way he was going to cut through a limb or sever the head. But he might still bleed the creature out with enough deep wounds, or cut off its air supply by cutting its throat. As he thought about his strategy he continued to monitor the creature. He was very surprised when it reached over with the hand he had crippled with his first stroke and picked up its mace. He looked closely at the arm while the monster pushed the mace his way, trying to keep him back. He saw that where the cut had been was now a thick scar. A scar that was diminishing and fading as he watched. Looking at the legs he saw that those wounds had also closed or were closing. Then the creature lurched to his feet and steadied himself.
Damned thing regenerates, he thought, wondering again how he would kill it. The ground rumbled underneath his feet at that moment and a shadow passed over his vision. Startled, the German looked up to his right in time to see a mace descending. He quickly brought his sword up to block the weapon, diverting most of the impact along the blade. One of the Troll’s fingers was caught up by the blade and fell to the ground. The finger continued to wriggle along the ground as if a sentient creature, while the Troll, missing a finger, flung his arm up high with the mace and swung it down once again. Kurt dodged away, coming within reach of the first Troll, who staggered forward and swiped at him with its mace. Now he was in a fight with two difficult to kill behemoths. And all he could consider at the moment was keeping life in his own body.
I know that bastard was blind, he thought, looking at the second Troll that still had blood dripping from his face, but with two perfectly good angry red orbs glaring from it. So they regenerate eyes too. Then the creature swung at him again and he was forced to dodge.
As he was dodging, striking back when he could and leaving what always would be superficial wounds on these creatures, he heard another roar. He glanced to his right, up the road, and saw the third creature coming at a shuffling run toward him. And to his horror he saw the fourth, which had appeared to be dead, raise its head and look around for a second, then push itself up and come his way.
“Ishmael,” he called out, looking for his friend, while backpedaling quickly. At that moment his legs hit something and he fell over onto his back, rolling on the ground with the woman he had thought was dead, who was groaning and pulling the arrow from her own body.
* * *
Levine finished off another of the Elves, pulling his blade across the throat of the man and half severing his head. The Elves were worthy opponents, he had to admit. They outclassed him in grace and agility. But he was faster, quicker and much stronger than they were. And he was the complete dirty fighter, with tricks they had never seen. Add to that their magic appeared to have no effect on him, and he was their worst nightmare moving through their last waking moments.
Another Elf gestured at him, murmuring some words under his breath. Levine felt the energy wash over him, and a nearby German soldier fell to his knees, his eyes unfocused for a moment. The Elf frowned, then eyes widened in alarm as the immortal headed for him at a run, putting his sword through the man’s ribs and leaving him coughing out his life on the ground.
Damned sleep spell, thought the immortal, shaking his head, catching a glimpse of the German soldier staggering back to his feet. Many of the Elves seemed to have that spell, and they had knocked out more of the soldiers than they had killed in combat. Of course that was as good a way of putting them out of action, as they were almost impossible to awaken. And the enemy was willing, almost eager, to take prisoners. Levine was not sure why, but was sure it was not because of any altruistic feelings on the part of the Elves. At least when I kill the attacker their magic seems to fade with them, he thought, picking out another target, a small group of Orcs, and heading for them.
“Ishmael,” yelled a loud voice from some distance.
Levine turned, his eyes immediately focusing on a large man in armor, about a hundred meters away, who was battling against a trio of very large opponents. As he watched the human stumbled backwards and fell over, a large mace missing him as he toppled.
“You,” yelled Levine to a soldier who was reloading his rifle, his eyes searching for targets. “Do you have any flamethrowers with your unit?”
“I don’t think so,” said the Sergeant, looking confused for a moment, then glancing over at the Trolls. Recognition of the problem registered on his face and he nodded. “I’ll see what I can find.”
Levine waved a hand and ran toward his friend, reveling in the speed of his rush. I could have shown up Hitler in that damned Olympics of his, thought the Jew as he ran lightly over the ground. He would have loved to have his resident supermen outdone by a member of an inferior race. But I guess it was enough that the black man humbled him.
Levine knew that he was not like other men, besides his long life and seemingly eternal youth. He was faster, quicker and stronger than other men. His abilities had increased as he got older. But they had also increased when he had arrived on this new world, as if something here resonated with his abilities. He knew that Kurt had felt it as well, though the other immortal was much younger, just into the beginning of his second century. He could also feel the heat building up in his body. The damnable heat that caused nerve damage and loss of memory.
Then the time for thought was past, as the back of a Troll loomed up before him and he went in for the strike.
* * *
One of the Trolls stepped forward, brought his legs apart in a wide stance, and swung his mace down at the big German. Kurt brought his two handed sword up, one hand on the grip in the middle of the blade, and locked his arms. The head of the mace hit the blade with the clang of metal, and Kurt felt his arms pushed down by the massive strength of the creature. Gritting his teeth, feeling the weight of the monster behind the weapon that threatened to push him down into the ground, the German pushed back with all of his might. Pushed back, and felt his arms straighten as he pushed the mace up and the Troll backwards. The creature stared down at him in disbelief, clearly surprised that such a small being had such strength.
Kurt shoved hard, unbalancing the Troll, then pulled the sword back down and rolled to the side, just as another of the monsters swung his mace to connect with the ground where Kurt’s head had been. The mace dug into the ground and Kurt rolled up to his feet, sword coming to the guard position. He swung a hard strike into the leg of the Troll who was still trying to gain his balance, cutting into the flesh and dropping the creature into a kneel. He dodged back as the second Troll swung a waist high strike at him, then did a roll over the sweep, landing on his feet and bringing his blade around to knock the mace of the third Troll out wide before it could come down on the helpless woman who was trying to sit up, the bloody shaft of an arrow in her hands.
The farthest Troll, the one he had leapt over, came back in with its mace raised overhead, trying to come down with the weapon on Kurt’s head and smash the human into the dirt. The monster roared as blood spurted from its neck, then its left arm. The creature turned into the flurry of a sword as Levine came into the fight.
“Get her back up,” said Levine, pointing with his chin at the woman. “I’ll keep them busy for a moment.”
Kurt nodded as the Jew went into a frenzy of movement, shield seemingly everywhere at once as his sword danced around the three Trolls, drawing blood with every dart. He reached down and grabbed the woman by the shoulder of her jacket and pulled her back, dragging her along the ground, backing clear of the fight.
“You wait here,” he said to the woman as he gently lowered her shoulder. He could see that the front of her jacket was covered in blood, but the eyes that looked back into his were free of pain and seemed most clear. She nodded and he looked back to the fray, where his friend was keeping the Trolls busy with his swordsmanship, moving like a ghost among them. He swung his own sword once and yelled out a battle cry, moving in as he saw a fourth Troll coming in a shambling trot to join the battle.