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The Refugium was a magical realm within Omtose Phellack.[1] It contained areas of forest or tundra that existed between areas dominated by Jaghut ice in the ages before or not long after the Ritual of Tellann. It maintained the lush habitat exemplified by Tellann that the original Imass occupied hundreds of thousands of years before the Malazan Empire.[2] Within the Refugium, many creatures and vegetation that existed in the time of mortal Imass also lived, though they might be extinct everywhere else, such as emlava and ay.[3] Herds of Ranag, Bhederin, and Tenag migrated back and forth from the land and somewhere else, seeming to come from nowhere.[4]

Parts of the Refugium's plains appeared as if they had once been underwater, with hills shaped like atolls and sand studded with broken shells.[5] The sky was faintly tinted vermilion and the air seemed strangely thin.[6] Similar non-magical places were known by the Imass in the natural realm, occurring during ice ages. These were called "Farl ved ten ara" in the Imass language.[7]

There were almost four thousand Bentract Imass living in the Refugium.[8][9]

Spoiler warning: The following section contains significant plot details about Refugium.


The Ritual of Tellann did not exist within the Refugium; T'lan Imass who entered regained their flesh and returned to a mortal state.[10][11] Likewise, ghosts who entered also became mortal. Prior to events at the end of Reaper's Gale, if a T'lan Imass or ghost were to depart the Refugium, however, they would return to their true state.

The Refugium was openly accessible from Verdith'anath without any distinguishable border other than where the grass began growing.[12] Additionally, the Refugium had a vast, seemingly limitless, cavern[13] containing a squat twelve-sided tower with 12 gates to other warrens,[14] including Kurald Galain and Starvald Demelain.[15][16] When the Bentract had first arrived it was a world of storms, with countless beasts escaping the gates to fight amongst themselves. Their sole Bonecaster sacrificed herself, drawing upon the power of stone and earth to seal the breaches. Her body still remained before the tower as a cairn of stones roughly in the shape of an Imass.[17] As the power of Omtose Phellack waned and the ice melted, the Refugium grew larger.[18]

The Refugium existed for hundreds of thousands of years, but as the power of the Bonecaster sealing the gate to Starvald Demelain faded, so too the Refugium began to die. As the power of the ritual failed, the Bentract spirits, T'lan Imass, and Hedge became mortal in truth.

An Azath House known as Kettle House was created inside the Refugium, rooting the realm and preventing it from dying while also sealing all 12 gates. However it was an abomination in the eyes of nature since it was doomed to go in circles and never change.

Notable residents[]

In Midnight Tides[]

Feather Witch attempted to force Udinaas to take her into his dream realm to see it for herself, but instead they appeared in the Refugium amidst Ulshun Pral and the Bentract Imass. Unable to communicate, the two Letherii left the Imass behind and discovered the ruins of a destroyed Meckros city nearby. Scattered through its wreckage were piles of melting ice containing the rotted bodies of K'Chain Che'Malle K'ell Hunters. The Imass had removed and buried the bodies of the city's thousands of citizens.[19]

Upon returning to the Bentract camp, they met the boy, Rud Elalle, who had been delivered into the Imass' care along with the Meckros city by the goddess, Menandore. The Imass promised to take care of the boy until her return, although they were concerned that the half-Soletaken Eleint might eventually try to eat them.[20] Ulshun brought the Letherii to the gates so that Feather Witch could take Udinaas back to their own world. Udinaas was convinced that the Imass were only dreams who thought they still lived.[21]

In Reaper's Gale[]

After Kilava Onass' night of passion with Onrack T'emlava on the eve of the Ritual of Tellann, she secretly bore a son, Ulshun Pral, and brought him to live in the illusory world of the Refugium.[22] His was the only Imass soul in that realm that was not a ghost memory living in a haze of self-delusion over a period of millennia.[23] Some time during this period, Gothos gave Ulshan Pran a Finnest in the shape of a stone dagger containing the spirit of Scabandari Bloodeye. The Jaghut warned him that Silchas Ruin would one day come to claim the dagger.[24]

The goddess Menandore made the Refugium her own haven and brought her own son to live among the Imass, although she gave no thought to their well being as she considered them merely deluded illusions.[25][26] Her peace was intruded upon by the Errant who came to the Refugium to warn her that her sisters, Sukul Ankhadu and Sheltatha Lore, plotted against her. He was soon followed by Shadowthrone and Hood. The former promised to aid her against her sisters in return for a one-time access to the Refugium's gate to Starvald Demelain.[27]

The Bentract's sole Bonecaster realised their world was dying and sacrificed herself to slow its bleeding.[28] Her actions were unsuccessful as she was no more real than the other residents of the Refugium. Her faded soul had barely enough power to hold onto itself let alone save her world.[29] But her pain and anguish was felt by the T'lan Imass, Hostille Rator, Gr'istanas Ish'Ilm, and Til'Aras Benok, who delayed their journey to the Second Gathering to investigate. They were astonished to regain their mortal forms and discover Imass of their own clan led by a clan chief they never heard of.[30] They could not allow the illusion to remain and thought to usurp the tribe, but were terrified of Rud Elalle.[31][32]

A number of different powers converged on the Refugium for their own purposes. Quick Ben, Trull Sengar, and Onrack came as agents of Shadowthrone and Cotillion. When Onrack crossed the border he became mortal once more and the depth of his joy led his friend Trull to weep. The Imass hunted an emlava alongside a pack of ay, capturing two emlava cubs.[33]

The ghost, Hedge, followed Emroth, one of the Crippled God's Unbound through Omtose Phellack to the realm's very border. He pondered the possibility that she had come to claim the Imass as allies for the Crippled God, but ultimately realised she had come for the Refugium's gate to Starvald Demelain, where anything was possible including the destruction of the warrens. Hedge destroyed her with a cusser, throwing one of her legs across the border of the Refugium where it once again became flesh and blood.[34] Once Hedge crossed the border, he too regained his mortal body for a time.[35]

Silchas Ruin travelled to the Refugium with Fear Sengar, Udinaas, Seren Pedac, Clip, Wither, and Kettle ostensibly to take control of the Finnest of Scabandari, his hated enemy. In contrast, Fear Sengar hoped to free Scabandari to heal Kurald Emurlahn and redeem the Tiste Edur.[36] Sukul Ankhadu and Sheltatha Lore entered to capture and slay Scabandari through his Finnest and kill Ruin and Menandore.[37][38] Kilava Onass entered the Refugium to protect her son and introduce him to his unsuspecting father.[39]

After meeting the Bentract Imass, Onrack and Trull convinced Hostille Rator and the other T'lan Imass the Refugium was worth defending.[40] In anticipation of the clash to come, Rud Elalle took all of the Bentract to safety but for Ulshun Pral, who Menandore demanded remain. The three T'lan Imass accompanied the Bentract in their flight. Menandore temporarily allied with Sukul Ankhadu and Sheltatha Lore to await Silchas Ruin, but the three first decided to kill Quick Ben and Hedge. Quick Ben stunned them with his magic giving Sheltatha Lore the opportunity to slay Menandore in the chaos. Sheltatha was gravely wounded in the process and Hedge finished her off with another cusser. Sukul Ankhadu fled to track down and kill Rud Elalle and his Imass as a final act of revenge against Menandore. But she was met and killed by the three T'lan Imass who also perished at her hands.[41]

Finally, Ruin's party arrived through one of the Gates of Starval Demelain which was guarded by Trull, Onrack, and Ulshun Pral. When Fear saw Ruin engage Trull in combat, he attempted to kill the Tiste Andii from behind. But Clip stopped the attack and murdered Fear. Wither attacked Udinaas before being slain by Seren Pedac. Ruin stopped the fighting by taking the Finnest from Ulshun Pral and stabbing Kettle in the heart. To win his escape from the Azath Tower of Letheras he had promised the Azath to bring Kettle, an Azath seed in the guise of a child, and join her with the power of the Finnest. Kettle became the root of a new Azath House that imprisoned Scabandari's soul, saved the Refugium and anchored it in reality, and took control of the twelve gates.[42] Quick Ben speculated that this had been Shadowthrone and Cotillion's plan all along as the Azath's control of the gates meant the two gods now had full access to them.[43]

In Dust of Dreams[]

(Information needed)

In The Crippled God[]

The Refugium was destroyed when the Eleint broke through the gate to Starvald Demelain, destroying Kettle House.

Author comments[]

In a fan Q&A, author Steven Erikson was asked about the Refugium:
Question: Shortly before Udinaas and Feather Witch pay their first visit to the refugium, you mention T'lan Imass present in dust form all over the place crossed by the advancing Edur. Does that mean the Imass inside the Refugium are actually dream-like projections of those T'lan Imass, and do Ulshun Pral and his tribe essentially exist in two places simultaneously?
Steven: The dust of their essence on the paths the Edur took need not be complete, and can exist as mere remnants, fragmented identities and fragmented memories. The manifestation of the Refugium was a combination of the Mhybe's created realm, and the deathless aspects of Lether.
Question: If that's the case, is leaving the Refugium synonymous with waking up?
Steven: Only if dream worlds don't exist.
Question: And finally, is there a connection between the Refugium and the Mhybe’s dream world (although I'd guess no, given that the Refugium is apparently older.)
Steven: The Mhybe's world only seems older, in that it recaptured a memory of an older age, a time when the Imass were dominant. I'll edge as close to a timeline issue as I dare here, to say that the Refugium's final, concrete manifestation, actually follows the Mhybe's creation.[44]


A "refugium" is a real-world term used to describe "an area of relatively unaltered climate that is inhabited by plants and animals during a period of continental climatic change (such as a glaciation) and remains as a center of relict forms from which a new dispersion and speciation may take place after climatic readjustment."[45]

Notes and references[]

  1. Reaper's Gale, Glossary
  2. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 12, US HC p.319
  3. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 14, US HC p.380-383
  4. Midnight Tides, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.484
  5. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 23, US HC p.715
  6. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 5, US HC p.126
  7. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.506
  8. Midnight Tides, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.478
  9. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 20, US HC p.595
  10. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 12, US HC p.318-319
  11. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.507
  12. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.505
  13. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 23, US HC p.714
  14. Midnight Tides, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.485
  15. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.507
  16. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.506
  17. Midnight Tides, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.484
  18. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.509
  19. Midnight Tides, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.476-479
  20. Midnight Tides, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.482-483
  21. Midnight Tides, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.481-486
  22. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 23, US HC p.739
  23. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 23, US HC p.726
  24. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 23, US HC p.726/729/739-740
  25. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 5, US HC p.127
  26. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 20, US HC p.592
  27. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 5, US HC p.127-129
  28. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 21, US HC p.659
  29. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 23, US HC p.726
  30. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 21, US HC p.659
  31. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 21, US HC p.660
  32. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 20, US HC p.601
  33. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 14, US HC p.378-384
  34. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.503-508
  35. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 23, US HC p.719
  36. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 23, US HC p.723
  37. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 5, US HC p.134-136
  38. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 23, US HC p.730
  39. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 23, US HC p.737/739-740
  40. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 21, US HC p.659-661
  41. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 23, US HC p.717-721/725-732
  42. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 23, US HC p.732-738/740-741
  43. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 23, US HC p.741
  44. Steven Erikson Answers Your Midnight Tides Questions -
  45. Merriam-Webster Dictionary
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