Project Haven is a story about about survival in a deteriorating, and unfixable, environment. Summers are reduced to nothing more than a few weeks of temperatures above freezing and the winters are becoming longer, grayer, and stretching further south toward land that was previously temperate. Magic has been used to create domed barriers around the cities who had the knowledge and expertise to create them, separating those fortunate enough to live Inside from those who must live Outside.
Inside each dome is a environment of perpetual day, kept warm and bright by the key to the people’s survival; the sunstone at the top of the dome. Constructed by the greatest minds of previous generations, the sunstones are the ever-glowing heart of survival, but it must get its energy from somewhere. Draining the magic for hundreds of miles in each direction to power itself, the sunstones keep the dome’s interior warm and habitable, and prevent magic from being accessible for anything else; not a bit can be spared.
But, the domes do not cover the entire city and are nowhere near large enough to house the surrounding population. Surrounding each dome is the Outside, the streets and buildings and stretches of frozen land left in the cold, the Outsiders living and working in the permanent winter, hoping for the chance to enter the domes and benefit for the warmth.
With the sunstones soaking up all the magic to keep the domes warm, those on the Outside can no longer use it for survival reasons. Forced to live in a constant state of utilitarian survival, they act as the labor force for the residents inside the domes, desperate and willing to do whatever they can for their chance to come Inside, even for just a few hours of work beneath the sunstone.
A glimpse at the characters
Among the Outsiders is:
- Rit, a teenage gravedigger and prostitute who works to support her “mentally enfeebled” brother and wasting-away mother. Careful to stay uninteresting and unseen, Rit’s tandem professions have more to do with each other than she would like for anyone to know.
- Faren, a furniture maker and secret political activist who sees the people of Haven as his sworn enemy and subjugators. Perpetually angered at the treatment of his people on the Outside, Faren would rather see everyone freeze before he gives Haven any satisfaction. He is the brother of Kezia.
- Kezia, a civil representative and advocate for the Outside city district she was born in, she favors diplomacy and using compromise to bring improved living conditions to her people. Kezia, though, may have let a personal matter jeopardize everything she has worked for.
- Deyan, once wealthy and a resident from within the domed city of Solace, when Solace’s dome failed and its people scattered into the icy winds, Deyan was forced to cross the frozen territory as a refugee. Now in Haven, he is learning that his status as one of wealth and influence is worth nothing in Haven, a city that is already beyond its capacity.
- Randol, once a magic user within the dome, he now lives a life of seclusion, keeping the truth about magic, and the sunstone, alive outside the dome. The use of magic is strictly regulated and reserved only for those entrusted to keep the dome up and the sunstone burning, but Randol knows enough to notice that there is a difference between keeping the sunstone burning and keeping it from burning out.
And within Haven’s dome we will meet:
- Krasean, born on the Outside, she has been given the opportunity to live within the dome and work for the Haven government as a dome officer, enforcing the policies and laws that keep her former people outside the magical barrier. Seen as a betrayer by those she left behind, she knows that her moral sacrifice is for the benefit of her own family, a sacrifice she is at peace with. At least, she thinks she is.
- Timous, one of those fortunate enough—and with enough of a fortune—to be one of Haven’s aristocracy beneath the sunstone’s warmth. A sympathizer with those on the Outside, he has been working with Kezia to open new channels of communication and diplomacy between factions. Timous is an asset for those Outside who want change, but perhaps not for the reasons he believes.
- Bellick, his duty is to keep the peace by any means necessary, and that usually means violence, intimidation, coercion, and force. He knows that Haven’s resources are finite and scarce, access to the warmth and protection being he most previous, and it is job to make sure that those who are supposed to be Inside are allow in, and those who are not are kept out. It’s the latter job he gets the most satisfaction from.
- Elisan, he preaches the gospel of the dome on behalf of Haven’s leaders. A man who maintains his faith in the system, he sees the inequality of Inside and Outside as a necessary fact of natural survival, even if he mourns for losses on both sides. He does not condone the most severe actions taken by the Haven leadership, but the question he poses to his critics is always the same, “what would you have me do?” Someone might see fit to finally give him answer he doesn’t want to hear.
- NameTBD Haven City Leader
- NameTBD Haven City Guard Leader
- And more…
A bit about the story
Surrounded by a cast of characters both within Haven and on the Outside, Rit, Faren, Kezia, and Krasean are forced into a situation of physical and political survival when it becomes clear that the leaders of Haven may not be being entirely truthful when they say that the sunstone will keep them warm for perpetuity. In fact, it may be that the sunstone is starting to wane… but if that is the case, what will the people do when there is no more warmth to drain?
The Haven Project explores themes in a raw, brutal fantasy world where the situation and environment make the norms of ethics, morality, and common decently something very unlike those of our own. Things can get strange when the concept of “right or wrong” is replaced by “inside or outside.”
The Haven Project is one I am very excited about, both because of its themes, but also because I’ve already outlined the story structure with a definitely beginning, middle, and end. I am hoping that this book ends up being a nice, self-contained project that tells a single story very well without growing beyond the first and last page.
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