His Angelic Keeper Hidden

Sovvan wants to save her mage-gifted brother from the demon bent on devouring his soul. But first, she needs to stop her ex-guardian angel from completing a spell that could destroy the repository of all memory and with it, the last fourteen years of her strange existence. If only this bizarre band of creatures would stop kidnapping her, she could actually make a start on that. But those creatures have plans, and they’re not taking no for an answer.

There’s no rest for the dead, especially not for someone who’s caught between angels and demons in a world where magic is real and just using it can kill you. The afterlife is turning into more of an epic fantasy adventure than Sovvan expected. But one thing will never change. Family comes first.

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The His Angelic Keeper series is a humorous sword and sorcery series starring Sovvan from the Curse Breaker series

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His Angelic Keeper Hidden

by Melinda Kucsera

A Note from the Other Side

Hi readers, 

I’m back. I’m Sovvan, the ghost who might be turning into an angel. I still find that hard to believe. I’m also the hero of His Angelic Keeper, the first book in my breakaway new series. 

When you last saw me, my guardian angel had fallen to the dark side. He also threw an Agent of Chaos at me, and it injected something into me when it bit me. Now, I’m fading away, but the goddess of Fate, (I didn’t know she was real), poked her nose in and reminded me about the apple she’d given me.

 It turns out that apple is a concentrated burst of creation, and it supposedly disrupts the Agents of Chaos’ disintegrating effect. Who knew? 

That crabapple didn’t come with instructions, so you’ll forgive me for not knowing what to do with it other than to pocket it. I’m still stuck on the fact that a goddess from a fallen pantheon is still wandering around. What’s that all about? 

I have a sinking feeling I’m about to find out. 

—Sovvan, sister of Sarn and guardian angel-in-training (fingers crossed!)

I’m Fading Away

The blackness faded to a peculiar shade of gray Sovvan hated so much, and that grayness turned transparent. That was strange. But an Agent of Chaos had bitten her a little while ago, so maybe that was normal?

Bits of her body peeled off in a slow motion spray and grayed out. Like cinders on the wind, they flew away, moving in time to that damned metallic clicking, which grew nearer as Sovvan lay there semi-conscious on a branch in the Grove of Memory. This place stored the memories of those who’d died over the centuries. Sovvan still found that hard to believe. Something held her body and soul together. Perhaps it was the bond to her twin, Sarn. Or maybe that was wishful thinking.

Beside her, Misriah froze, magical crabapple in hand. The red apple looked like any other ripe apple, just smaller. According to Fay, the ex-goddess of Fate, it could reverse the effects of that bite. Misriah threw back her head and howled one word, “No!” Purple lightning danced over the angel’s armor as it consumed her. “I’m sorry, Sovvan. Your brother needs me.” Misriah let go of the apple, and it fell on Sovvan’s lap.

Pick it up. It’s the only way to fight whatever the Agent of Chaos did to you. But her hand wouldn’t obey her, no matter how many commands Sovvan sent it. Instead, her hand lay limply on the waist-thick branch supporting her. The apple remained on her lap, doing nothing magical. It didn’t even shine.

Misriah vanished in an explosion of purple sparks. Great, now Sovvan was alone with her floating ex-guardian angel, who was working some sort of magic, but she didn’t know what. “Are you trying to summon your dark lord?”

He didn’t answer, but what else could he be doing? Malachiah gathered more power to him, and it ringed him in an invisible cloud Sovvan could sense but not see. That power made her skin crawl and bile rise in her throat at the stench of death and decay in the air. His magic had a bad odor, or maybe that stench of burning garbage came from him.

Below her, metal creatures skittered around the leaf-covered floor of the grove. They were the mysterious Agents of Chaos. What did they want? One had already bitten her, and the rest just massed there like an army of clockwork insects. What were they waiting for?

Probably for me to fall off this branch. And Sovvan would too since she was fading in and out of consciousness. Where would she end up when she finally blacked out? The Gray Between again? Sovvan didn’t feel its pull, nor was she seeing gray anymore.

A metallic insect crawled up her arm, across her shoulder, and finally up the side of her head. The clockwork roach stopped on the tip of her nose and regarded her with softly ticking eyes. Tiny black hands wound around its coin-shaped eyes, keeping time.

“Don’t bite me. Once was enough.” Sovvan stared at the creature until it became blurry. She closed her eyes. Before she could freak out too much, the link to her brother yanked Sovvan off the branch and dumped her onto a carpet of red leaves below. They must have cushioned her landing because nothing hurt from the fall. What a relief. Something had finally gone her way.

Sovvan ran a hand over those red leaves, crinkling them. Each five-pointed leaf stored someone’s memories. Births, deaths, holidays, wars, all were recorded by these leaves, and one might have some information she could use. As Sovvan touched the leaves around her, a compulsive urge to absorb as much information as she could overtook her, and she grabbed handfuls of leaves. 

Fragments of conversations about historical events flashed through her mind as Sovvan reached for more leaves. One leaf had even saved an argument about the Adversary. Sovvan paid attention to that one because her ex-guardian angel had tried to hand her over to that creep. She needed to find out as much as possible about him in case he showed up here. Sovvan couldn’t rule anything out at this point. Only Malachiah knew what his spell would do when he completed it.

None of the memories that had been stored in the leaves within reach provided any answers about that spell, or the army of tiny clockwork insects marching toward her. Damn. Someone must have encountered them in the past, and their memories must be here, somewhere. Hers were too, but there were billions of leaves to search through.

Which ones held the information she needed? Not the ones she’d landed on. Damn it. Oh well, the answers only fell into the hero’s lap in stories. Sovvan put all thoughts of reclaiming her lost memories out of mind for now. The Memory-Eaters had just been doing their job when they’d taken them. She had larger problems than the holes in her recollections.

I’ve wasted enough time. Sovvan let go of the spent leaves, and they slipped, gray and lifeless, through her hands to land on their red brethren.

Sovvan blinked as those leaves blurred. She fought to keep her eyes open as two people whispered about chaos and order and agents who tried to maintain some sort of balance between the two. But there was no one else here except her and the trees and the clockwork creatures coming toward her. Numbness crept up her body. Those whispers must have come from the many memories she’d absorbed.

“That sounds like something Misriah would drone on about,” Sovvan said to the voices arguing in her head. What are the odds I’d land on the handful of memories about some old debate about those two arcane powers?

Too small for Fate not to have played a role in that. Too bad Sovvan wasn’t aware enough to pay attention to those fading voices. Hopefully, those memories would become information she could access later when she wasn’t so damned tired.

The Memory Trees shivered in the increasing wind from whatever Malachiah was doing. Was it too much to hope the God Misriah served would smite her ex-guardian angel? Probably unless Fate lent a hand.

Fate. Fay, that ex-goddess had given her something. An apple! Sovvan forced her eyes open. Of course, that crabapple was still rolling away from her. A spent leaf fell from her numb fingers as she willed her hand to reach for that beautiful apple. It might cure her of whatever the Agent of Chaos had injected into her if she could just grab that apple before it rolled out of reach.

But her arm refused to obey her. Shades, fades, and blades. Why is no one ever around when I need help? Sovvan blinked away the gray, edging her vision. So the Gray Between was coming to collect her again. Not good unless the portal to this place was still in there.

But Sovvan couldn’t remember where the only Memory-Eater who was on her side had created that portal. Everywhere in the Gray Between pretty much looked the same as everywhere else except for the forest, but Four hadn’t made the portal near there. Hopefully, that portal will be visible from a long way off on that gray plain. But it probably wouldn’t be because her luck was never that good.

Worry about that later. Right now, you need to get that apple. Sovvan tried to move her legs, but they wouldn’t obey her either. Damn, and Misriah was gone; Red, the guardian angel of this place, was still unconscious, and only God knew what had happened to Four. That memory-eating pachyderm had vanished before the fight with Malachiah.

This can’t be the end. Sovvan railed against that. But her very being was slowly unraveling into white-glowing strings. How Strange. What did that Agent of Chaos do to me? Sovvan stared at her disappearing hands. Did they want Malachiah to win?

Sovvan could still raise her head, so she checked her feet, but they were gone, taking with them the dull throbbing pain from kicking a certain ex-guardian angel, and her ankles and calves were unraveling too. As Sovvan watched her unmaking, part of her detached from her body and floated upward past the red-and-white blur crawling toward her. What on earth was that?

“Get the apple!” Fay shouted from somewhere nearby. Was that ex-Goddess back again?

I thought she couldn’t manifest without throwing things seriously out of whack. Though maybe that restriction had been lifted since things were pretty screwed up right now. Sovvan glanced around for that ex-Goddess, but everything had become blurry and indistinct.

Maybe Fay had appeared on a leaf again. But everything was fading to that hateful shade of gray as Sovvan floated up into the roiling sky above.

What’s happening to me? Since she was already dead, Sovvan couldn’t die again. But what did that leave? What happened to souls that unraveled? Was there one last reprieve? Or was the darkness sweeping her consciousness away from the last thing she would ever see?

I’m sorry, bro. I’m sorry I couldn’t save you or your son. I wish I’d met him. But now, Sovvan might never do that, not if this final darkness was it for her. She mustered all the energy she had left for one last prayer. Forgive me, O Lord. Send me back. I’ll get things right this time. I just need one more chance.

But if the God Misriah believed so heartily in heard, He gave no sign. The darkness consumed her mind, snuffing out its light for a while. Sovvan dissolved into a cloud of shimmering motes and floated out of the Grove of Memory and back to the Gray Between, the crossroads of the afterlife where all souls were sorted.

***

The shining cloud that had been Sovvan descended in a shower of sparks onto a foggy hill. Gray light filtered through a break in the thunderheads, and it shined on the metal carapaces of the clockwork beetles crawling up that hill. They each grabbed pieces of the entity that had been Sovvan and pushed them together, reassembling her.

More clockwork insects scurried about until a ghost of a girl lay on the brow of that hill. Her dark hair and white skirt blew in the wind, whipping across the plain. Job done; those insects scuttled away, and a fog bank chased them. It rolled over Sovvan, hiding her from view as she stirred.

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Sovvan wants to save her brother, but bizarre creatures keep kidnapping her. How will she escape them in time to help Sarn without magic?

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