A Tragic Warrior Lost in Two Worlds…
Genre: ContemporaryFantasy (13+)
The war in Iraq ended for Lieutenant Freddie Williams when an IED explosion left his mind and body shattered. Once he was a skilled gamer and expert in virtual warfare. Now he’s a broken warrior, emerging from a medically induced coma to discover he’s inhabiting two separate realities. The first is his waking world of pain, family trials, and remorse—and slow rehabilitation through the tender care of Becky, his physical therapist. The second is a dark fantasy realm of quests, demons, and magic that Freddie enters when he sleeps.
In his dreams he is Frederick, Prince of Stormwind, who must make sense of his horrific visions in order to save his embattled kingdom from the monstrous Horde. His only solace awaits him in the royal gardens, where the gentle words of the beautiful gardener, Rebecca, calm the storms in his soul. While in the conscious world, the severely wounded vet faces a strangely similar and equally perilous mission—a journey along a dark road haunted by demons of guilt and memory—and letting patient, loving Becky into his damaged and shuttered heart may be his only way back from Hell.
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Excerpt: The Trials
“Come, Dauphin. Walk with me.”
The advisor led me up to the parapets of the castle. Despite the pre-dawn haze, I could make out the land below. I looked out past Elwynn Forest to the village of Goldshire, with its thatched-roof cottages and patchwork quilt of green pastures stitched together with stone walls. But beyond them, looming over the houses and fields, I could see the mountains of Golgoreth, high, jagged peaks where the world of the Alliance ended and the realm of the Horde began. Already, storm clouds gathered over the ridge. As I paused on the ramparts to watch, a wind gusted from the east, an unnatural gale that roared in my ears and caused ripples in my skin.
“You feel it?” Sir Gilly said. “Their power builds in the hope that you will fail. Everything is changing now, different than what you’ve come to expect.”
He stretched a trembling finger toward the distant mountains.
“Their evil flows like fog on a November day, seeping into everything. When your father died, the protection he gave to the countryside began to weaken. It will grow weaker still until only the walls of Stormwind provide protection. At the end of the thirty days, they too will fail.” He turned to me, his face inches from mine. “First lesson: you must not, under any circumstances, go beyond the castle walls during the days of anointment.” His brows wriggled and knotted. “And the castle itself will not be safe. The mist will enter the smallest of cracks and transform into strange beings, the source of the trials.”
I took two quick breaths and steadied myself as I’d been trained. “Tell me what I must do.”
“Second lesson: you know about the watchtower?”
I nodded. As a child, I’d sneak up there to play but knew well how it changed during anointment.
“None but you may go there for the next thirty days. For as you know, following the death of a king, the advisor is charged with mounting two bejeweled disks, one facing east and one west, transforming the watchtower into a dream chamber—a place where the dauphin must go to dream, twice each day, at sunrise and sunset. What you are shown and how you respond will determine the fate of the kingdom.”
“What will I see?”
“That, I cannot say. No prince before you has left word, written or spoken, about what he saw through the spinning wheels. Most claimed they remembered nothing at all. Others refused to tell. But in some mysterious way, what you dream will influence how you respond to the trials. The answer lies in the castle, if you have the courage to explore.”
“Explore? But I know every inch of this castle. I’ve wandered throughout it since I was a child.”
“Ah, but you were never a child during anointment. The castle you know will change. Stairways will come into being where none existed before. You’ll go down them, but when you turn back, they’ll be gone. Archways and tunnels will appear, leading to odd chambers where you’ll meet the beings I spoke of. Some will be guides—elves or priests or mage. Others will mean you harm, spectral demons, agents of the Horde. Assassins.”
“How will I know the difference?”
“Trust what’s in your heart. If that’s enough, you will save Azeroth for another generation. If not…” A sorrow came over him, weighing down his features. “I’ve lived too long. I put your father through this and now you. I wish I had died before this day.”
I’d never seen him so downcast, my source of knowledge and strength. I fingered the hilt of my sword, as I had at the start of so many training sessions. My grip on the braided leather tightened.
He looked at my hand and shook his head.
“No, Dauphin. You cannot fight this enemy with a sword.”
“But to defend against assassins?”
“It’s not your body they seek to harm. These assassins can’t threaten your being.”
“Then what is their purpose?”
“To extinguish your spirit. To make you abandon the kingdom to darkness. Their purpose is despair.” He turned toward the watchtower, standing erect, every inch the advisor. “Come. It is time to begin.”
The urge to write first struck when working on a newsletter at a youth encampment in the woods of northern Maine. It may have been the night when lightning flashed at sunset followed by northern lights rippling after dark. Or maybe it was the newsletter's editor, a girl with eyes the color of the ocean. But he was inspired to write about the blurry line between reality and the fantastic.
Using two fingers and lots of white-out, he religiously typed five pages a day throughout college and well into his twenties. Then life intervened. He paused to raise two sons and pursue a career, in the process becoming a well-known entrepreneur in the software industry, founding several successful companies. When he found time again to daydream, the urge to write returned. His novels include: There Comes a Prophet, Along the Watchtower, and the newly released The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky.
David and his wife split their time between Cape Cod, Florida and anywhere else that catches their fancy. He no longer limits himself to five pages a day and is thankful every keystroke for the invention of the word processor.