Refuge, my genre bending Fantasy/Military Fiction series is one of my favorite projects, right after the Exodus books. Unfortunately, though it is close to my heart, it is not doing near as well as the science fiction series. That said, it does have its share of fans, many of them different from the fans of Exodus. I do plan to keep working on the Refuge series, though from practicality I will be devoting more of my time to Exodus, and of course still have the third book of the Deep Dark Well Trilogy to put out, as it wouldn’t be much of a trilogy without that third book. Refuge Books 1 and 2 were centered around the arrival of Earth humans during a nuclear war in Central Europe. The atomic blasts opened thousands of temporary gates to a dimension of magic and archetypes, of mythology and terror. The inhabitants of this world use magic and what we would consider mythological creatures, dragons, trolls and such, to conquer and control vast territories. They see the groups of Europeans that come across as slaves for their own use, or, even more horrible, a source of life energy for their dark magic. But the humans bring their own weapons and equipment across, of great power and limited lifespan. And they bring across a race of Immortals who, while powerful on Earth, become Demigods on Refuge. The German and American Armies use their technological advantage to capture a large section of the Empire that wants to see them destroyed. But now the technology is gone, and the Earth humans must develop and deploy an army of antiquity to fight back.
The title of this third book is The Legions, based on the concept that the humans would develop a fighting force based on the greatest pre-gunpowder infantry the world has ever known. The powered machine technology is gone, but that does not mean all tech. The humans have thousands of years of muscled powered technology to call upon, and use the scientific method in an approach to magic. Originally this book was going to be much longer than the 120K words it has finished at. I was going to split it into two sections, moving back and forth from the campaigns of the legions and a quest by the Immortal Kurt von Mannerheim to keep an awful artifact out of the hands of the evil Ellala Emperor. I finally decided to finish the book about the legions, then visit the quest in a future book, which would allow me to get another Exodus book out in early Fall. I still have big plans for Refuge, though I realize as a cross genre work it has much going against it. I just ask that my fans give it a try. If you like lots of action this may be the book for you. If you prefer people sitting around and talking, then maybe not. And now for the excerpt.
Paul cut himself loose a little higher up than the other passengers, at the twenty meter point, depending on his great strength to absorb the impact. Part of that impact was absorbed by an Ellala who looked up in time to see the one hundred and sixty kilos of human and equipment coming down on him. There was time for one quick scream before the Elf was crushed into the ground. Paul took up the rest of the force in a squat, then rose and fired both of the triple crossbows he held, taking out two more Ellala. Troopers were coming down around him, and Paul ran toward the closest concentration of Ellala enemy, sending the final four bolts in his crossbows their way and taking down three of them. He flung the two empty crossbows, themselves stout pieces of wood and steel, toward the Ellala, then pulled his bastard sword from its sheath, making it burst into flame, then grasping the haft of his ax in his left hand.
The huge immortal hit the disorganized mass of Ellala, swinging both blades inward, then reversing them into backhand strikes. He went into overdrive, his weapons striking faster than the eye could follow, taking heads, lopping off arms, crashing through the mail of the enemy soldiers. They tried to surround him, but a flurry of strikes cleared the space around him. Then the other friendly troopers struck the mass and fought their way to the immortal.
A trooper next to Paul went down with an arrow through the shoulder, then another with one through the chest. An arrow splintered on Paul’s armor, and he took another out of the air with his sword. Looking up at the wall he saw that more Ellala had gotten up there and were raining arrows on the invaders. A large gold dragon, he thought it the one he had ridden here, flew by and took out the Ellala on the wall, while other beasts cleared the other walls.
The doors of the keep towers opened and out charged the rest of the garrison, those who had been asleep or otherwise occupied when the attack went in. Most were only partially armored, rushed from bed to meet the attack. Those attackers sent a flurry of crossbow bolts and javelins into the garrison, dropping almost a hundred of them to the ground. The rest of the garrison charged on, closing the distance and slamming into the assault force, the mass of soldiers behind them pushing them forward and the attackers back.
Paul did not budge, his great strength holding him in place. He swung his weapons and cut down every enemy Ellala within reach, while the rest swung around him to continue to press his comrades back.
Balls of fire started to strike in the mass of enemy, setting many ablaze. Paul looked back to see the big gold dragon hovering, spitting out balls of fire in a rapid pace. Two more dragons joined in, and suddenly the mass that had been pushing was gone as hundreds of Ellala burned to death. The dragons flew away, each to attack one of the tower tops where Ellala were serving heavy weapons.
Paul continued to swing his weapons, cutting down man after man in a flurry of destruction. Arrows and bolts started to fall on the enemy ranks not in contact with the legion forces, and Paul looked over to see the wall was now swarming with the Rangers who had climbed the outer rampart.
We have this thing, he thought, pressing ahead. The flames were dying down, and the entrance to the tower ahead was open. There can’t be many more of them. We have to have killed most of the garrison. Paul cut down the final two men before the entrance and ran the short distance toward the tower. An Ogre ran out, a massive creature that must have been slow in getting ready, waving a huge mace. It struck at Paul, the spiked mace seeming to come in slow motion toward the immortal. He dodged out of the way, then thrust with his sword into the monster’s gut while his ax came down on its shoulder. And the creature, for all its size and strength, was just more dying meat on the ground.
Paul was through the entrance, dodging as a pair of Elves sent arrows his way. One missed, and he knocked the other arrow out of the air with his sword. The Elves drew their next arrows back with the speed of their kind, but they weren’t used to the speed of an immortal. Paul threw his ax at one on the run and split the skull of the bowman, then took the head of the other with his sword.
More of his men came in behind him, and Paul pointed toward the stairs and ran toward them, taking them three at a time as he proceeded up. He passed one landing, then another, not meeting any resistance, and was beginning to think that he would get to the commander’s office without any trouble. He was still thinking that when the stone stairs beneath his feet started to tremble. He had no idea what was causing the vibrations, which came like the slow steps of something massive coming down the stairs. Dust fell from the ceiling, a crack appeared in the wall, and Paul knew that trouble was just around the corner.
“Back down,” he yelled at the warriors that were beginning to crowd behind him. “Now,” he yelled even louder. “Get the fuck down the bloody steps.”
The troopers, Ellala and Mo’oricans, with a pair of humans, started to back away. One of the Ellala said something about elementals, his eyes wide. Paul turned back to look up the stairs, where the heavy footfalls were getting louder. He didn’t know what was coming, but figured he was the best one here to face it.
What came around the corner was not what he was expecting. It looked something like the Thing, the one from the comics, not the movie. It was all lumpy gray rock, its head scraping the ceiling. Paul scanned it quickly for a weakness and really didn’t see one. Nothing to it but to attack, he thought, thrusting forward with his sword. The blade hit the creature in the body and barely penetrated, proving that what looked like rock actually was that substance. He pulled his sword back just before the creature swung at it, then swung it in at the monster’s arm. Again the blade rebounded after giving the creature a small nick. And the arm came around in a backhand that struck Paul in the shoulder and threw him against the wall.
Goddamn but it’s strong, he thought as he grunted in pain. The armor of his shoulder guard was actually dented, something he didn’t think possible with the heavily enchanted plate. He tried to take a step back and get his sword back around, but the creature punched him in the chest with surprising speed and sent Paul flying down the steps, his sword falling from his hand. The immortal hit the stairs and continued down in a roll. He could feel some bones break, including a vertebrae in his neck. The pain lanced through his neck, and he felt tears come to his eyes. He continued to roll until he came to the landing above the ground floor. The sound of heavy ponderous steps came from above, and Paul knew he didn’t have much time, and this was not the battleground he wanted.