It's the previously-unreleased 4th volume in the Morgan Asher series, and the 3rd book in my "Virtual Saga." Virtual Domination is one of my personal favorites among my various works, even though I've yet to see it in print. I haven't put forth a rigorous submissions campaign for this book for various reasons, but in the coming months I hope to change that, and find someone interested in releasing it.
In the meantime, I'd like to introduce you to one of the supporting characters in the book. Selena Griswold is a new addition to the cast, appearing for the first time in this volume. My original introduction to her was a long narrative that comprised the first part of Chapter 3, but as it was something of an ungainly info-dump, I removed it; writing a new intro and interspersing any relevant data from it into future chapters.
Still, the original, rough draft introduction is interesting to some extent, and it'll help you glean some insight into this character long before the book ever comes out. Get ready to meet Selena Griswold!
Selena Griswold was a confident woman, in all aspects. She knew what she wanted, and went for it, and her desires were always predicated on the notion that she knew what was right, above and beyond what anyone else told her. This had gotten her into quite a bit of trouble as a child, as she'd been apt to correct her elders when their opinions disagreed with hers. Fortunately for her, such rebellious behavior was a trait her parents appreciated, or she might have found her spirits crushed.
Where her parents accepted her cavalier attitude in all things, college professors were another matter. They didn't always give her leeway when she challenged the establishment theorems, and after two year of butting heads she decided psychology wasn't for her, and instead sought out a more adventurous life, one inside a computer. She had enough saved in her college account to fund an indefinite stay in Fantasan, where her robust demeanor would prove to be an asset.
The occult had always piqued her curiosity as a child, so it was natural that she selected the life of a sorceress in the fantasy realm. Though, she soon learned that the ways of magic had nothing to do with real-world witchcraft. It did not involve demonic spirits, or reverence for Mother Nature. It was just another learned mental ability, like mathematics or pattern recognition. You figured out how to manipulate a new plain of existence that didn't exist in the real world, and it was quite easy for those with a knack for it.
Selena definitely had a "knack" for magic, as she spent years traveling the imagined realm, performing day-to-day activities to keep herself fed. There wasn't a lot of excitement at first, as she labored without the use of her hands. Tilling soil is quite simple when you can dig with invisible mental force, and hammering nails was just as simple, when you had nails. Of course, she also learned to manufacture the required building supplies from raw materials, to aid in her contracting tasks.
After a decade of honing her talents, she journeyed beyond her "native land," and ventured across the Pendelor Mountain Range, a daunting and dangerous task few inhabitants of Taloraz ever pursued. It was a rite of passage for daring tradesmen and wild adventurers, who sought to reach the western cities of the adjoining kingdom; the fair land of Rickard.
The trip took her three weeks, but only once did she have the chance to battle a nasty dragon. It was a silver sand-spinner, which had come up from the southern deserts to prey upon whatever wildlife it could find. The beast spit sulfuric acid, and would have been lethal to someone without mastery over magic. Selena's skills allowed her to neutralize the acid on contact, and she quickly did the same to the acid percolating in the lizard's veins, killing it.
Death hadn't been her intention, and seeing she had vanquished the dragon left her feeling sullen and remorseful, even though it had tried to eat her. A day she spent playing with her spells, seeing if she could somehow revive the beast, and when that proved futile she moved on, but not before cutting off one of the dragon's small claws, to forever remind herself to be cautious, even in the heat of battle.
Truly, she was a gentle soul, whose desire for adventure had borne more fruit than she'd intended.
Coming down out of the mountains, Selena found the bustling trading center of Candovar, on the shores of a crystal clear lake. This was the northwestern tip of Rickard, a land notorious for its prosperity and freedom. Rumors told of a gregarious monarch who ruled this vast expanse, and she decided to go see if there was any truth to the stories.
It took her nearly a year to gain an audience with the king, after which she regretted the wasted time. She didn't appreciate his romantic overtures, and ended their meeting in a huff, drawing the attention of the more mannerly Archmage of the realm. Her first impression of Alan Rome was far more favorable, and after a short talk she accepted the man's offer of invaluable tutelage. He'd lived almost a hundred years, most of that in Fantasan, and his understanding of magic made her realize how little she really knew. They worked closely together for three years, and then one day it all ended. Her austere instructor refused to teach her further, and ordered her from his sight. No rhyme or reason, just go, he commanded her, and with a teleportation spell she did as he asked.
Selena had no idea why she'd been sent away, and the rejection left her sorrowful. She'd grown attached to Alan in ways she was reluctant to admit.
The place she now called home was a small farm on the northern edge of the Vastuar Tableland, an aged farmhouse on the edge of the woods. A babbling brook trickled through the back yard, and a healthy orchard filled the front. It was a pleasing retreat, where she found herself wiling away day after day, enjoying the peace of it all.
She was sitting on the southern patio, rocking back and forth in a wicker chair, enjoying the rising sun with a cup of tea, when two men came walking up the driveway. She immediately recognized one of the men, but didn't move to greet him.
"Hello, Selena," Alan said as he walked onto the patio.