Sovvan’s dead and the devil’s after her. He turned her ex-guardian angel and stole her twin brother’s magic, and now, he’s coming for her. But she’s got a secret.
The farther her enemies fall into his thrall, the higher she’ll rise. But that new power comes at a cost. When the devil challenges her to a game, more than her family’s lives hang in the balance.
If Sovvan loses, everyone dies, and the devil will drag her to Hell. Meet epic fantasy’s newest heroine.
His Angelic Keeper Fallen is the 3rd book in the His Angelic Keeper Series. It’s preceded by: His Angelic Keeper Hidden and followed by: His Angelic Keeper Tempted
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His Angelic Keeper Fallen
by Melinda Kucsera
Cold water struck Sovvan hard, waking her. She only caught a glimpse of the pool before strong arms yanked her under. But she didn’t see the gateway tunnel, the Memory Grove, Fay in dragon form, or anything that should be there. What had happened to Fay and the gateway?
Sovvan vaguely recalled something hitting her back, then falling and nothing but blackness. A lot must have happened in between then and now, but she had no way to find out what until she met up with Fay again. I hope she’s all right.
Fortunately, she’d grabbed a breath first. The ghost part of her didn’t need to breathe, but another part of her craved air, and that part was in control now. One phrase repeated in her head as panic beat in her chest like a trapped bird. The same phrase she’d shouted when the Adversary had tricked her into helping him crossover to this world through a pool like this one. Miserere nobis!
Light blossomed above as time dilated. A white-glowing dove landed on shore, and the dove was so radiant, its light shined on her where she floated, frozen by forces beyond her ken.
Do you reject the Adversary, all his works, and empty promises? the dove asked.
How was he talking in her head? Birds didn’t do that, but this bird was special, and not just because he glowed. He radiated so much power; he must be a player in this game of good and evil that she’d somehow become tangled up in.
Well, do you reject him? The dove stared at her while he waited for an answer.
Of course I do. He’s the enemy of all that’s good. The Adversary was also after her twin. That made him her enemy too. Sovvan no longer felt like she’d burst if she didn’t get some air. She couldn’t move anyway, but neither could the water. Like her ex-guardian angel, it was frozen.
Only the dove moved as he spoke. Do you believe in the God you just asked for mercy, the creator of all that is, and was, and ever will be?
Why was he asking all these questions? His glowing eyes demanded an answer.
Yes. Sovvan didn’t know when she’d begun to believe in God, but she did. Misriah, her twin’s hidebound guardian angel, probably had something to do with it or Fay, the ex-goddess of Fate. The two women were quite devoted to Him.
Do you believe in His only son, our Lord, who died to secure the salvation of all? The dove stared at her as if he could see through her.
He has a son? For some reason, an image of J.C. holding a huge cross popped into Sovvan’s mind. Was he the son of God? Misriah had said something about that, but she couldn’t recall the details. I probably didn’t pay attention. That angel used to lecture me every chance she got.
Sovvan didn’t need the dove to confirm J.C.’s identity; her heart did. That traitorous organ had known the truth when she’d met him. Only now did it reveal that yes, J.C. was the son of the God who made her strange existence possible. Maybe her heart had listened to Misriah.
I believe in him, and I believe in you too. You’re part of them, the Father, the Son, and… Sovvan trailed off at a loss for words again. Who was this dove? He must be someone holy.
I’m the Holy Spirit. He bowed his head. Through the power of God, you are remade in water and spirit. May grace guide you and keep you free and faithful all the days you serve the Lord, your God, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
The Holy Spirit vanished as time resumed, and the current yanked her down. That strange interrogation hadn’t included a rescue. What happened to all that ‘may grace guide you and keep you free’ stuff? I’m not free. Nor could she struggle with Malachiah pulling her down. Her ex-guardian angel wasn’t frozen anymore. Neither was the water.
Where am I? voices called to Sovvan as she sank deeper into the dark water, but she couldn’t understand them. A calm filled her when she finally realized where she must be—the Drop of Eternity in the Gray Between. That’s what she had glimpsed in the moment before Malachiah had pulled her under. How did I get here? Malachiah must have dragged her to this pool. Why would he do that?
Sovvan was grateful she was here. This was far better than the abyss he’d threatened to send her to. What had changed his mind? Probably not her sparkling personality. He likely had a new plan since she’d destroyed his last one. But why did his plans have to involve her? Why couldn’t he just leave her alone, so she could figure out this whole afterlife thing without interference?
Water swirled around them, whipping up a whirlpool that pulled them down into that liminal space between the Gray Between and the Mortal World. Sovvan pictured her brother’s face. If she had to go somewhere, then she wanted to go to someone who needed her. The water vanished, and air replaced it. As had happened before, Sovvan slammed into a rainbow-hued shield, and it parted for her but not for Malachiah.
“No!” Malachiah pounded a green, scaly fist against the shield. What had her ex-guardian angel been doing?
Sovvan couldn’t see the rest of him, but she’d bet it was also becoming more insectoid than angelic. If that happened when an angel fell from grace, then she needed to avoid it. Becoming an insect wasn’t on her to-do list, but saving her family was.
Sovvan waved as she plummeted toward the ground. Well, that was convenient. Escape achieved. Now she just needed to stop falling. Thankfully, her soaked dress clung to her legs, keeping her modesty intact.
Sovvan had planned to come back to this world, just not so soon. At least the heat generated by her fall was drying her clothes. She might not be a dripping mess when she landed. What had happened to Fay and the others? Had they survived the gateway’s collapse? Did they know she had? Were they looking for her right now or mourning her destruction?
She needed to find out, but first, she’d check on her twin. Sarn had called her during the whole gateway takedown business, and he’d sounded like he’d needed her. What trouble had her twin gotten into now? Where was Mount Eredren?
Sovvan scanned the dark blurs below until a gold glow caught her eye. It was rectangular, and it was either floating, or it was partway up the side of a mountain. That glow must be the doors to Mount Eredren. After all, they were luminous, and she didn’t see anything else for miles around that glowed. A glowing chain appeared, and its other end disappeared into that mountain. Well, that answered that question. Sarn was in there, and that was where she needed to go.
Sovvan tried to angle her fall, so she headed for those glowing doors. But she had a rough landing ahead of her. Luckily, she was quite durable. Being dead had its advantages. But the ground rose at an alarming rate as the dark blurs became the enchanted forest that surrounded Mount Eredren.
A body slammed into her back. What the hell? Sovvan struggled as a scaly green arm wrapped around her waist. Damn, Malachiah had gotten through the shield.
“You can’t escape me, girl!” he shouted in her ear.
“Let go of me, you creep!” Sovvan pried at his hands, but she couldn’t break his grip. Her ex-guardian angel held tightly to her as he flew through the giant double-leaf doors of Mount Eredren.
“How did you escape the Agents of Chaos?” Malachiah searched for something as he flew around the stalactites and columns in the tunnel.
“Wouldn’t you like to know.” Sovvan wouldn’t tell him either. He’d never believe the truth, anyway. Let him wonder what trickery she was capable of.
“Fine. Keep your secrets. Soon, I’ll know everything.” His head kept turning as he scanned the ground thirty feet below, bringing his misshapen face into view. But there were only armed statues with glowing eyes and shadows down there.
Sovvan approved of the changes in his appearance. He looked as evil on the outside as he was on the inside now, and that evil was sloughing off its skin to reveal a more alien one underneath made of chitin, like the insect he was.
“Where are you taking me?” Sovvan slammed the heel of her hand into his arm, but it stayed cinched tight around her waist.
Malachiah didn’t answer. What was he searching for? Sovvan couldn’t see anything in the dark, and darkness covered everything except the luminous eyes of the creepy statues. They’re not staring at you. But it felt like they were. They’re just statues. Really creepy ones with swords and axes, and — Sovvan glanced away before those statues could put any more crazy ideas in her head.
She pressed against her neck and kept pressing on various spots, but she couldn’t find that one spot that had turned her incorporeal before. Damn. Why had it worked earlier and not now? Probably because even her hybrid nature had rules. If only someone would enlighten her about them.
Sovvan slammed the back of her head into her ex-guardian angel’s face until his grip loosened, and ichor matted her hair. Ew. Gross. But her freedom was worth any price, so she slammed her head into his face again. It was cathartic, especially when he moaned.
“Not so fast. You can’t escape me like that.” Malachiah tightened his hold on her.
Oh, but she could. Sovvan could go wherever she pleased. Pain hammered the back of her skull as she slammed her head into his nose again, and it triggered a change in her. Sovvan became transparent as all her mass went somewhere else, leaving just a ghost behind. She fell through his arms and probably the floor too, even though she couldn’t see it in the dark. Thank God, because she’d needed an escape.
“No!” Malachiah shouted, but he didn’t follow her.
Maybe he couldn’t shed all his mass like she could. Sovvan had never seen an angel become incorporeal. Invisible, yes, but they only did that to avoid answering her questions. At least she’d gotten away and good riddance to him. But she had another problem. She didn’t know how to become tangible again. At least she wasn’t wet anymore.
Sovvan tried willing herself to take on mass as she fell through the ceiling of a well-lit office. Thankfully, she was incorporeal at the time of her fall, so the ceiling remained as pristine as it was before she’d arrived.
“Oof.” Sovvan passed through the piles of papers on a large desk without disturbing them. But she couldn’t say the same for the short man sitting in the chair facing her. His bushy eyebrows climbed up his forehead as he stared, open-mouthed, at her. He looked quite disturbed by her unconventional entrance, and she didn’t blame him.
He had dark, frizzy hair that stood on end, hopefully not from shock. She didn’t want to give the poor guy a heart attack. The dark circles under his probing eyes gave his hard, angular face a vulpine cast. Maybe he should get some sleep instead of staying up late to do paperwork.
The man shoved his chair back as Sovvan’s head passed through his desk, giving her an eye full of its contents. Oh my. This guy had some interesting things in his drawers: glowing stones shaped like dragons, dragon-shaped daggers, spiky metal dragons for throwing, as well as other bits and bobs she couldn’t even begin to identify.
This fellow had a serious dragon fixation. Dragon statues surrounded his desk. They stared at her with glowing crystal eyes as Sovvan landed on a leather footrest and became corporeal again. Of course, the footrest was dragon-shaped and the throne this guy sat on too. Who was this man? The lord of the dragons? A pagan priest who worshipped a dragon god? Did dragons even have gods?
Sovvan put those questions aside as she swept her dark hair out of her eyes. She took a moment to braid it again. There wasn’t anything she could do about her borrowed robes. They were white before her trip to Hell, but now they were soot-stained in places, and there was a rent in the bodice. At least the violet trim at the hem and edges of the sleeves was still intact. She’d even managed to dry out during her fall.
But she doubted she could pass for an angel as tattered as she was. That was probably a good thing since she wasn’t an angel, just some kind of weird hybrid, and he was staring right at her. Holy smokes, she was visible.
“You can see me?” Sovvan grabbed his hands and squeezed them.
He just stared at her, aghast, as if she committed some terrible faux pas. Uh-oh. Had she just escaped one set of troubles only to land hip-deep in another?
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Sovvan faces an impossible choice. Will she save her brother or herself?
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